Expansion of the protected area network
maintaining viable populations of species, whether plant or animal, is a crucial factor in biodiversity conservation and this requires the appropriate conservation of important ecosystems and habitats. Currently, the country has 88 national parks, and 490 sanctuaries. In 1988, Rodgers and Panwar conducted a comprehensive study in which they drew up plans for a protected area network to cover the range of biological diversity in the country. They suggested that the percentage of the country's area under the protected area network, which was then only 3.3%, be enhanced to 4.6%. The recent update of the Rodgers and Panwar report suggests that the area under parks and sanctuaries be increased to 160 National Parks and 698 sanctuaries accounting for 5.69 % of the country's geographical total. This coverage will provide a 'better distribution of protected areas with less gaps in the protection of biogeographic zones, biomes and species and fewer spatial or geographic gaps in the pattern of PA coverage' . Currently, the protected area network does not adequately cover some important biomes and mammal species of conservation significance.
Conservation strategies are urgently needed for the protection of species and ecosystems, involving a mix of in situ and ex situ strategies. Some of the steps in such a policy include the following.
Population surveys and assessments and database creation
Adequate data on species diversity, populations, location and extent of habitat, major threats to different species, etc. , and changes in these aspects over time are not available to design a proper strategy for conservation. Given our extensive diversity, ecological surveys and taxonomic investigations need to be intensified, particularly for plants and insects. For conducting ecological studies, species for such studies can be prioritized including keystone species, large mammals, migratory species, etc. The...