Friday, November 21, 2014

Relocating Species Found in Development Sites

The most distinguished event to take place on the planet Earth was the origin of life and its evolution into all forms of living beings that existed in the past and those which survived to the present.

Even by the most wild of human imagination life on the Earth could not have been what we see it, and take it for granted.

Imagine a situation, that you may believe, life could not have existed under a particularly harsh environment. To your surprise, on an investigation, it will reveal you that life does exist under that environment, and is thriving!

The plasticity of living beings to adapt and evolve over time in any niche is truly amazing and speaks of the inherent capacities that the living organisms have.

Sadly, thousands of species of organisms have been made extinct by natural events, and continue to be wiped out from the planet due to human interference with the natural environment and its unique ecosystems.

Our entire existence on this planet is dependent upon the biodiversity resources. While material resources are of economic importance for development related activities, these no substitute to the services provided by biological resources.

Biological resources provide ecological, environmental, dietary and energy needs which can’t be replaced by any other natural or man made resource. Plants fix the energy derived from the Sun in the form of food. In our food chain all energy derived ultimately comes from the energy fixed by plants.

During any development activity, while large trees and water bodies may be seen as those directly affected, there are on the ground, or under the soil, a plethora of organisms which are uprooted and destroyed.Landscape planning and development needs to consider biodiversity protection.

In the soil inhabit large number of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi, known and unknown, and small arthropods (insects, spiders, centipedes, scorpions) that may be destroyed in the land under development.

How careful are development or other agencies when the farms are converted into residential colonies to  investigate beforehand the biodiversity of the area, no matter how big or small is the project. This micro-planning is almost absent everywhere?

During the development of a site, agencies occasionally come across a wide variety of worms wriggling out from within the ground. Most often, there are no means to report, catalogue, identify and preserve those organisms found during development.

Molecular Biology versus Systematics and Classification:

We hear of human research endeavors to the far off virgin lands and discovery of new species but we ignore the unreported species right under our feet.

I had found a small frog of the size of a housefly which I was unable to identify. Initially, when I first sighted it, I was not able to identify it because it was tiny, climbing over the tiles of my bathroom.

I could realize it was a frog only when I put on my glasses. A yellow-colored frog of a very small size. It had a yellow pattern on its skin. There could be more wonders in our places. What about facilities to readily identify such new discoveries.

The current studies in biology are dominated by a greater focus on molecular and genetic approaches. We notice that there is ignorance of what genetics ultimately manifests and empowers: a full blown and thriving organism.

While it is important to know the underlying molecular functions of a living being, it is equally important to search, identify, classify and protect species which are under stress and have the least chances to survive.

During a development activity, therefore, it is important to keep a vigil by those interested in biodiversity preservation and protection, about the discovery of a significant population of a species in the area under development.

All such displaced organisms must be identified and relocated in the same area or a similar ecosystem. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

All that Grows In Wild Is Beautiful

Invariably advocacy programs for conservation of biodiversity focus on conservation of animals which have some sort of a celebrity status like tiger, crocodile and turtles. Some themes like ‘marine biodiversity’ are also used to impress upon the value of biodiversity.  

To me this is underplaying the importance of the very broad meaning and importance of the term biodiversity in a holistic context.

To me we should talk aggressively about the importance of every creature on the earth, be it a pest or parasite, economically important or not, small or big, bat or bed bug, bird or bee, crow or owl, bamboo or rose, snake or frog, elephant or mouse.

A wild grass in full bloom

The term biodiversity is more suited to the setting of  a wild environment: all that exists in a wild setting  with no or the least human invasion.  Everything there grows  naturally, sustains in a competitive natural environment and evolves. 

The term biodiversity must give us the feel of the real extent of diversity existing in the nature, the purpose, its scale or grandness, the value, ecological, environmental and biological and  our responsibility to stop the damage to it.

The other day I saw a variety of grass in full bloom growing in the vacant plot of a residential area. This area was until few years back a field with all its variety of flora and fauna.

Now the original flora of this area in under an assault. Very soon, when the house come up on this plot, and other plots, in the vicinity this flora typical to the place will vanish and we will have beautiful houses replacing those wild plants!

And powerful masters will be sitting in their lawns flaunting some prized species of ornamental plants.

This world is some how turning into a world of celebrities, celebrity men and animals as if there is no importance, place or role for others.

In fact, what grows in the natural world is far more superior biologically than those of ornamental value.

What grows in the wild is hardy, it has power to survive in the adverse climates, and thrive like this wild grass in full bloom. Their natural strength is manifested in their beauty and power to survive!