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3Indian natural world heritage sites face threat from harmful activity: WWF
May 16, 2016

According to a latest survey by World Wildlife Fund (WWF),India's three major natural World Heritage Sites  are facing threats from harmful industrial activities like mining. These sites are:

  • the Western Ghats

  • Sundarbans National Park and

  • Manas Wildlife Sanctuary

What are the Threat to these sites:

  • Activities such as mining

  • Illegal logging

  • Oil and gas exploration threaten these

  • Climate change.

  • Ecology of Western Ghats which cover six states - Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala - is threatened by mining and oil and gas exploration

  • Manas Wild Life Sanctuary faces threat from dams and unsustainable water use

  • Sundarbans in West Bengal and neighbouring Bangladesh have been hit by various activities including unsustainable water use, dams, wood harvesting, over-fishing and shipping lanes

What is world wildlife fund:

WWF is one of the world's largest conservation organizations which was conceived on the 29th April 1961. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by:

  • conserving the world’s biological diversity

  • ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable

  • promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

World Heritage: Natural

These sites are places of importance of cultural or natural heritage as described in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, established in 1972. The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage is an international agreement that was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972.

Definition of Natural heritage :

For the purposes of the World Heritage Convention, the following are considered as "natural heritage":

  • Natural features consisting of physical and biological formations or groups of such formations, which are of outstanding universal value from the aesthetic or scientific point of view;

  • Geological and physiographical formations and precisely delineated areas which constitute the habitat of threatened species of animals and plants of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation;

  • Natural sites or precisely delineated natural areas of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science, conservation or natural beauty.

NATURAL SITES :

1. Kaziranga National Park:

  • Located in North Eastern state of Assam in the floodplains of mighty Brahmputra river.

  • It is inhabited by the world's largest population of one-horned rhinoceroses, as well as many mammals, including tigers, elephants, panthers and bears, and thousands of birds.

  • The riverine habitat consists primarily of tall, dense grasslands interspersed with open forests, interconnecting streams and numerous small lakes locally called as bheels.

  • There are three main types of vegetation: alluvial inundated grasslands, tropical wet evergreen forests and tropical semi-evergreen forests.

  • The park contains about 15 species of India's threatened mammals. It harbours the world's largest population of Indian rhinoceros and Indian elephant.

  • Kaziranga is also recognized as an important Bird Area by Birdlife International for conservation of avifaunal species.

2. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary:

  • Sanctuary is home to a great variety of wildlife, including many endangered species, such as the tiger, pygmy hog, Indian rhinoceros and Indian elephant.

  • A Biodiversity hotspot, covering an area of around 39000 hectares.

  • Sanctuary is part of the core zone of the 283,700 hectares Manas Tiger Reserve, and lies alongside the shifting river channels of the Manas River.

  • Site is also  National Park,  a Project Tiger Reserve, an Elephant Reserve and a Biosphere Reserve.

3. Keoladeo National Park :

  • Located in Bharatpur district of Rajasthan state.

  • It is famous avifauna sanctuary that plays host to thousands of birds especially during the summer season and large numbers of aquatic birds from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, China and Siberia migrate here during Northern winter.

  • Some 375 bird species and a diverse array of other life forms have been recorded in this mosaic of grasslands, woodlands, woodland swamps and wetlands of just 2,873 ha.

  • It was a duck-hunting reserve of the Maharajas of Bharatpur, then became a bird sanctuary in 1956, with the Maharajas exercising shooting rights till 1972, and was recorded as a Ramsar Wetland site, in 1981.

4. Sunderbans National park:

  • The largest estuarine mangrove forest in the world, Located on Ganga delta and spread between India and Bangladesh.

  • A number of rare or endangered species live in the park, including tigers, aquatic mammals, birds and reptiles.

  • Mangrove habitat supports the single largest population of tigers in the world which have adapted to an almost amphibious life, being capable of swimming for long distances and feeding on fish, crab and water monitor lizards.

  • Islands here,  are also of great economic importance as a storm barrier, shore stabiliser, nutrient and sediment trap, a source of timber and natural resources, and support a wide variety of aquatic, benthic and terrestrial organisms.

  • Whole Sundarbans area is intersected by an intricate network of interconnecting waterways, of which the larger channels are often a kilometre or two in width and run in a north-south direction.

5. Nanda Devi & Valley of Flowers:

  • It is renowned for its meadows of endemic alpine flowers and outstanding natural beauty.

  • Area is also home to rare and endangered animals, including the Asiatic black bear, snow leopard, brown bear and blue sheep.

  • Nanda Devi National Park is dominated by the 7,817 m peak of Nanda Devi, India’s second highest mountain.

  • The park lies in Chamoli district, within the Garhwal Himalaya in the state of Uttarakhand.

  • These are  dominated by fir, rhododendron and birch up to about 3,350 m. Forming a broad belt between these and the alpine meadows is birch forest, with an under storey of rhododendron.

  • Woody vegetation extends along the sides of the main glaciers before changing gradually to squat alpines and lichens.

6. Western Ghat:

  • A chain of mountains running parallel to India’s western coast, approximately 30-50 km inland, the Ghats traverse the States of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

  • Ghat runs north to south along the western edge of the Deccan Plateau, and separates the plateau from a narrow coastal plain, called Konkan, along the Arabian Sea.

  • It is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.

  • The mountains of the Western Ghats and their characteristic montane forest ecosystems influence the Indian monsoon weather patterns that mediate the warm tropical climate of the region

  • A significant characteristic of the Western Ghats is the exceptionally high level of biological diversity and endemism.

  • The globally threatened flora and fauna in the Western Ghats are represented by 229 plant species, 31 mammal species, 15 bird species, 43 amphibian species, 5 reptile species and 1 fish species.


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