Protect the little helpers
Mains Paper 3: Environment
Prelims level: Insects
Mains level: Environmental impact assessment
- In 2015, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) found that pollinators lead to
huge agricultural economic gains.
- The report estimated pollinator contribution in India to be
$0.831-1.5 billion annually for just six vegetable crops.
- This is an underestimation considering that nearly 70% of tropical
crop species are dependent on pollinators for optimal yields.
Threat to pollinators
- The decline of moths, bees, butterflies, hoverflies and other
pollinators is undeniably linked to human activity.
- Large tracts of natural habitats have been cleared for monoculture
cultivation, while the use of pesticides and fertilisers is pushing out
nature’s little helpers.
- The University of Calcutta, researchers have showed that native
Indian bees, when exposed to multiple pesticides, suffer from memory and
olfactory impairment, lower response rates, and oxidative stress which
- Parthiba Basu and his team estimated that between 1964 and 2008,
there was a 40-60% growth in relative yields of pollinator-dependent crops,
while pollinator-independent crops such as cereals and potatoes saw a
corresponding 140% rise in yields.
- In Kashmir, researchers have pinned lowering yields of apple trees
on the declining frequency of bee visits.
- In north India, lowering yields of mustard cultivation may be
caused by disappearing pollinators.
A threat for other countries too
- Many countries, particularly the U.S., observed with some anxiety
the phenomenon of bees deserting their hives.
- The U.S. had established a Pollinator Health Task Force and a
national strategy that focussed on increasing the monarch butterfly
population and planting native species and flowers in more than 28,000 sq km
to attract pollinators.
- Around the same time, the U.K. developed 23 key policy actions
under its National Pollinator Strategy.
- After the IPBES report, almost 20 countries have joined the
Coalition of the Willing on Pollinators.
- The promoting organic farming and lowering pesticide usage,
landscape management is key.
- The EU Pollinators’ Initiative adopted in June can provide
pointers to India, particularly a policy of direct payment support to
farmers to provide buffer strips for pollinators for nectar- and pollen-rich
- India has millions of hectares of reserve forests, some of which
have been converted to pulpwood plantations.
- The same can be done in gram panchayat levels. Fallow areas and
government land can be used to plant flowering species for pollinators.
Q.1) Which of the following are Keystone Species?
1. Sea otters
2. Red Mangroves
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
(a) 1, 2 and 4 only
(b) 2, 3 and 4 only
(c) 1, 3, 4 and 5 only
(d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
Q.1) How India can save hundreds of species of pollinators those are may be in