Serious Threats to Biodiversity


1.Habitat loss

2.Habitat  de fragmentation

3. Habitat encroachments

4.Climate Changes

5. Poaching

6. Illegal Poaching

7. Lack of Documentation

8. Use of obsolete Technologies in Biodiversity management

Urgent need of attention by United Nations to protect critically endangered species facing threats of survival in Wars.

(An attempt to find solution to end up wars)

Professor Krishan Kumar Sharma, Former Vice Chancellor MDS University Ajmer ( Rajasthan) India

For over six decades, armed conflicts have occurred in more than two-thirds of the world’s biodiversity hotspots thus posing critical threats to conservation efforts. In 2001, cognizant of the fact that environment has often remained the unpublicized victim of war, the UN General Assembly declared 6 November the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. On 27 May 2016, the United Nations Environment Assembly adopted a resolution which recognized the role of healthy ecosystems and sustainably managed resources in reducing the risk of armed conflict, and reaffirmed its strong commitment to the full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. In spite of all such resolutions and efforts made on paper, ground reports are reflecting serious threats to biodiversity in wars particularly the critically endangered many plants and animal species.

Every day, we hear war news includes attack of missiles taking lot of lives, development of weapons to the end limit of nuclear weapons etc. Lot of post war assessments and losses are done at the end of war. Assessment of damages caused by the war weapons on buildings, bridges, aero planes, helicopters, ships etc. but unfortunately, no assessment of loss to biodiversity, particularly the critically endangered species on earth. Buildings may be rebuilt, aero planes and ships may be manufactured  again but would it be possible to regain those species at the critical status of IUCN. It took millions years for the earth to come in the present form supporting all living beings including humans with its assets. On the darker side of the scene, it takes seconds to destroy million years of evolutionary efforts of nature  with high profile war weapons such as super sonic missiles, nuclear bombs,  and other military weapons. A lot analysis and discussions on media about sufferers of wars such as death of people damage to buildings, Roads, bridges, aero planes, helicopters  oil fields  migration of people, refugees , sufferance etc. but no body in the world has ever raised issue on how much damage has been caused to the biodiversity in the wars in past few decades . I am going to share my views on this pertinent subject of great concern.

Theory of organic evolution suggest formation of various plants, animals and other microorganisms on earth through various mechanisms of evolution in millions of years. The diversity of the living world is staggering. More than 2 million existing species of organisms have been named and described; many more remain to be discovered from 10 million to 30 million, according to some estimates. What is impressive is not just the numbers but also the incredible heterogeneity in size, shape, and way of life.  From  microscopic bacteria living in hot springs at temperatures near the boiling point of water to fungi and algae thriving on the ice masses of Antarctica and in saline pools at −23 °C (−9 °F).  Living at the bed of oceans, mountains, desert  and  on the  slopes of Mount Everest more than 6,000 metres (19,700 feet) above sea level. The virtually infinite variations on life are the fruit of the evolutionary process. All living creatures are related by descent from common ancestors. Humans and other mammals descend from shrew like creatures that lived more than 150 million years ago; mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fishes share as ancestors aquatic worms that lived 600 million years ago; and all plants and animals derive from bacteria-like microorganisms that originated more than 3 billion years ago. Biological evolution is a process of descent with modification. The beauty of environment is not concrete jungle but its Biodiversity. Biodiversity not only provide us food, medicine oxygen but a system in which we are connected with each other in some or different ways.

Biodiversity has been facing varieties of threats for its existence such as  habitat loss, over exploitation, pollution, climate change and global warming, so many anthropogenic stresses. A lot has been written, discussed and published on these threats on biodiversity. But very little is known about habitat loss, species loss, genomic loss caused by the War weapons. How much damages during the war between different countries  with high profile weapons like Missiles, Rockets, Bombs, Atom Bombs has damaged biodiversity has not become serious concern of Big powers and peace keeping organizations such as United Nations etc. Armed conflicts in war areas caused severe deforestation, soil erosion, and threats to wildlife. .Development and testing of high powered weapons including nuclear missiles, Chemical and Biological weapons on land ocean and air cause sever damage to the biodiversity, but no country pays attention on this serious issue .Rockets and missiles and bomb blast in a forest causing fire takes life of millions of organisms. Same thing happen when weapons in air leads to millions of avifauna in the affected area. A missile falling in an ocean in the fossil fuel area or war ship cause problem of oil spills and millions of marine organisms suffer of death and injuries. Loss of Herpetofauna in Russia-Ukraine war shall be discussed in detail.

When we have not yet completed documentation of more than 90 percent biodiversity, would it be wise to destroy them before that. In my opinion it would be impossible to regain genomic diversities of species resulting from million years of evolutionary processes and damaged in wars by any mean. When seminars and conferences would discuss, raise voice and send recommendations, a little hope to end up wars may come true.

Recommendation:  (i) International Court of Justice, one of the  six principal organs of the United Nations, that gives advisory opinions on International legal issues, be given more powers to handle international conflicts in between countries particularly on issues related to damages caused  by war  to the biodiversity in general and critically endangered species in particular. Serious penalties be imposed on alleged nations after assessing damage to the biodiversity, considering it as a global property.

(ii) Reduction in the development and testing of war weapons on the Biodiversity rich areas. Total ban on mega diversity areas.

(iii) Vigorous awareness programmes be conducted as Conferences, seminars, workshops on the theme such as Impact of War on Biodiversity/damage to biodiversity in war.

(iv) Media plays important role in bringing issues before the people. Print and visual media should also look into damage caused by war weapons on biodiversity while covering ground reports of war. Social media should also report war victims of Biodiversity in their communications and viral messages.

(v)  In the curriculum and curriculum frame work students be sensitize by introducing subject such as Impact of War on Biodiversity.