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Biodiversity of Karnataka

The state of Karnataka is a part of the highly biodiversity rich regions of India. The state is endowed with great diversity of climate, topography and soils. It spans the seacoast with rich aquatic biodiversity and mangrove swamps at the mouths of estuaries. It harbours verdant tropical evergreen forests, paddy fields, coconut and arecanut orchards on the narrow coast flanked by the hills of Western Ghats. It bears deciduous woods, scrub jungles, fields of sugarcane, cotton, groundnut, ragi and jowar in the Deccan plateau. The different environmental regimes support their own characteristic set of vegetation and animals. Karnataka supports 10% of total tiger population and 25% of elephant population of the country.

The state has around 4500 species of flowering plants, 600 species of birds, 160 species of mammals, 160 species of reptiles (turtles, snakes, lizards and crocodiles), 70 species of frogs, and 800 species of fish. These figures give a good account of the floral and faunal diversity of the state.

The wealth of diversity of domesticated plants and animals in farms also holds much promise. The hill chain of Western Ghats is known to have greater diversity of wild relatives of cultivated plants than any other region of comparable size in the world. The aquatic biodiversity in Karnataka is very rich and harbors many endemic species.

Biological Diversity Act, 2002

The Biological Diversity Act, which came into force in February 2003, aims to promote conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of benefits of India’s biodiversity resources. It provides for establishment of a National Biodiversity Authority at national level, State Biodiversity Boards at state level and Biodiversity Management Committees at the level of Panchayats and Municipalities.

The National Biodiversity Authority shall play a regulatory role with regard to access to biological resources by foreign citizens and grant of intellectual property rights. It shall play an advisory role in matters relating to the conservation, sustainable use and equitable distribution of biological resources.

As per the provisions of the Act, the state has set up the State Biodiversity Board, with the Hon’ble Minister for Forest, Ecology & Environment as chairperson, five ex-officio members and five non-official members.

The State Biodiversity Board is supposed to advice the state government on matters relating to conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of its components etc. It shall also regulate access of biological resources by Indian citizens.

The Act provides for constitution of Biodiversity Management Committees that are to be constituted in each local body for the purpose of promoting conservation, sustainable use and documentation of biological diversity and chronicling of knowledge relating to biological diversity. The Act also envisages setting up of a local biodiversity fund, at every area notified by State Government, where any institution of self-government is functioning. This fund will include any grants and loans made by the National Biodiversity Authority, grants or loans made by State Biodiversity Boards, all sums received by the local committee from other sources etc.