The Work of Joint Conservation Initiative for Environmental Protection

Both South Asia and Southeast Asia regions are rich in having unique habitats, numerous forests majestic wildlife and rich biodiversity. The rich belts of tropical and subtropical forests, deciduous forest forests, evergreen forests, mountain cloud forests, Himalayan bamboo forests to vast stretches of massive valleys, numerous freshwater, brackish water and marine habitats as well as abundant rainfall have made this region home for diverse species of flora and fauna; many of which are endemic meaning that they are not found anywhere else in the world. Hence, there is no doubt that this one of the most spectacular biodiverse region of the world and home to numerous vertebrates (fishes, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals) and invertebrates (porifera, ctenophora, coelenterates, platyhelminths, nemathalminths, annelids, arthropods, molluscs and echinoderms); both terrestrial and aquatic in their habit. This region also represents wide diversity of different algae and sea weeds, fungi, myxomycetes, lichens, bryophytes (such as hepatics, horneophytes and mosses), pteridophytes (lycopodium, selaginella, psilotum, horsetails, eusporangiate and leptosporangiate ferns), gymnosperms (open seeded flowering plants) and angiosperms (close seeded flowering plants).

It is important to mention this is the home for a large number well known global wildlife such as Asiatic lions, one horned Indian rhinoceros, stripped hyenas, wild dogs, wild ass; as well different species and sub species of Asiatic elephants, pangolins, rodents and ant eaters, deer and antelopes, wild sheep and wild goats, apes (gibbons), monkeys, wolves, foxes, jackals, civets, bearcats, leopard cats, fishing cats, jungle cats, tigers, leopards, snow leopards, clouded leopards, bears, bats, fishes, insects, crocodiles, snakes, tortoise, geckos, monitor lizards, skinks, toads and frogs, salamanders and newts, spectacular coral reefs and associated marine species, freshwater and marine dolphins and turtles, wide diversity of resistant and migrant birds to mention only a handful. The entire region is booming with spectacular biodiversity. 

However, the region is also densely populated and there are numerous associated challenges on the regional forests, wildlife and biodiversity such as habitat encroachment, illegal settlements in restricted forest belts, habitat destruction and habitat fragmentation, illegal grazing, uncontrolled forest fires, natural disasters (cyclone, earthquake, floods and draughts), unplanned infrastructural developments, expansion of industrial belts and agricultural plots close to forests, poaching, hunting, illegal wildlife trafficking, high demand for bush meat as well as transmission of diseases to wildlife from domestic animals, cattle’s and livestock. The economically backboard population living in around the spectacular Forest Avenue south and southeast Asia are often severely dependent on the local forest resources for their daily assistance such as food, fodder, fuel and fertilizer. As a consequence heavy anthropogenic pressures on the local forests are putting local wildlife and biodiversity at stake!

All the countries included in this organization, namely India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka are all suffering from different forms of degradation and destruction of the local forests, coastal and marine ecosystems, local wildlife and biodiversity. The entire region is impacted by high rates of poaching and hunting (for bush meat and fishes); and safely wildlife trafficking for animal organs (gall bladder, brain, eyes, embryos, heart, liver, kidneys, body fat, reproductive organs) and body parts (skulls, skeletons, teeth, bones, skins, furs, pelts, hairs, horns, antlers) even urine and farces for illegal wildlife markets operating in southern China, Hong Kong and certain pockets of South East Asia such as Cambodia, Viet Nam, Laos, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. Hence, it is absolutely important that BIMSTEC nations join hand for the purpose of conservation of their precious natural resources in the form of freshwater, brackish water and marine ecosystems, local forests and wildlife and regional biodiversity from this relentless plunders by both internal and external, natural and anthropogenic factors through a Joint Conservation Initiative (JCI) through collaboration, cooperation, coordination, and communication (4Cs) among themselves.

To summarize, a Joint Conservation Initiative (JCI) between the BIMSTEC member nations can not only contribute towards the conservation of natural resources; but will help building trust and economic prosperity on either side of the international boundaries eloping in building local economies, conserve transboundary forests stretching between two adjacent countries, protect transboundary migratory wildlife and animal migration corridors and enhance security by preventing smuggling, poaching, drug, wildlife and human trafficking along sensitive border areas with dense forest and difficult physiographic terrains. Increased surveillance and joint monitoring can help reduce the level of criminal and insurgent activities along international borders; and bring peace, prosperity and tranquility between two countries while helping in long term conservation of local and regional ecosystems, forests, wildlife and biodiversity.

07 July 2022
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