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Current Affairs

Land use policies and climate change affects endemic species of Eastern Ghats

Date: 20 January 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

According to a new study, intensifying agricultural practices, urbanisation and pressures from mining and deforestation, the precious habitat of endemic and rare, endangered and threatened (RET) species could be reduced, even leading to species loss.

 

Background

The broken hill-ranges of the Eastern Ghats, spread across Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, are home to unique ecosystems. Though it has over 450 endemic plant species, the region remains one of the most exploited and degraded ecosystems of India.

 

Details

  • The study team looked at available plant species data and identified 22 endemic species recorded from over 250 locations and 28 RET species recorded from nearly 800 locations in the Eastern Ghats.

  • They then studied the soil, land use, anthropogenic activities and climate changes in these areas. They used simulations to predict how the area will change by 2050 and 2070.

  • The total human population in the Eastern Ghats region is expected to reach 2.6 million by 2050, raising pressure from anthropogenic activities. There will be a demand for land for food, road and other activities leading to encroachments and threat to the habitats of endemic and RET species.

  • The highly threatening human activities in the Eastern Ghats area are mining, urbanisation/settlements, dam construction, firewood collection and agricultural expansion.

  • The endemic species were found to be distributed in the core areas of the forests - Kalahandi, Mahendragiri, Nallamalai-Seshachalam, Kolli and Kalrayan hill forests.

  • On the other hand, the rare, endangered and threatened species were distributed not only in the core areas but also in the periphery of the forests, thus taking a greater hit from anthropogenic disturbances.

  • The mean temperature and rainfall were all crucial for the plant species and simulations showed that the temperature is likely to increase by 1.8 degree Celsius by 2050 to 1.98 degree Celsius by 2070. The rainfall is also projected to increase by 113 mm by 2050 and 160 mm by 2070.

  • The regional or local climate change (warming) has led to frequent prolonged non-rainy days, increased number of days with maximum and minimum temperatures resulting in loss of soil moisture and soil degradation.

  • These factors have also contributed to the occurrence of frequent forest fires, eliminating regeneration of the less-frequent endemic species in the forest.

  • Studies from across the globe have shown that the tropics are losing more plant biodiversity than other regions, stressing the need for urgent conservation strategies.

  • The researchers demand that the boundaries of national parks and sanctuaries should be redefined based on the richness of endemic and RET species.