::Draft National Wildlife action plan 2017-31::
Protected Areas (PAs) are clearly defined geographical spaces, recognized,
dedicated and managed through legal and other effective means to achieve the
long term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural
values. The PAs provide a wide range of social, environmental and economic
benefits to the people worldwide. In a rapidly changing world where natural
ecosystems are under severe pressure, the PAs, when governed and managed
effectively, can provide nature based solutions to environmental problems and
serve as integral component of sustainable development. Section 3.3 of the
National Forest Policy,1988 states ,"For the conservation of total biological
diversity, the network of national parks, sanctuaries, biosphere reserves and
other protected areas should be strengthened and extended adequately".
At the beginning of the second National Wildlife Action Plan (NWAP)
(2002-2016), there were only about 400 PAs covering an area around 1.56 lakh sq.
km. in the country. Presently, there are a total of 726 PAs in the country
covering 1.60 lakh sq. km. i.e., 4.88% of the geographical area. The following
table gives the break-up of various categories of PAs in the country:
Current status of the PA Network in India as on November 2015
|Total Area (sq.km) %
|Total Protected Areas
In addition to the PA network mentioned above, the managed forests under the
State Forest Departments (SFDs) are also contributing towards wildlife
conservation. Thus, India has over 20% of the total geographical area under
effective wildlife conservation, thereby exceeding the target of 17% envisaged
in the Aichi Target 11. However, wildlife in the urban landscapes and other
human habitations as well as the marine and coastal biodiversity need more
The previous NWAP recommended a number of measures to strengthen the PA
network and enhance their management effectiveness. These included: five-yearly
review of the existing PA network in the country; establishment of new PAs;
development of guidelines and identification of sites for setting up
Conservation Reserve and Community Reserves; implementation of the
recommendations given in the Wildlife Institute of India's (WII) PA network
report; completion of legal procedures for final notification of existing and
new PAs; readjustments of boundaries of PAs, where required, in accordance with
ecological and natural features; and preparation of scientific and ecologically
sound management plans for all PAs. There has been varying success in achieving
Several Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves have been notified,
albeit their area is still very small. Several Wildlife Sanctuaries (WLS) have
since been upgraded to National Parks (NPs). Similarly, a number of PAs have
been enlisted as Natural World Heritage Sites (NWHS) where globally significant
species or ecosystems are being protected. Further, in compliance with India's
commitment to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in respect of PAs,
the Government of India hasformulated 10 National Biodiversity Targets (NBT) in
2014, of which, Target 6 aligns with the Aichi Target 11 that deals with
strengthening the PA network in the country [Ref. National Biodiversity Action
Plan (NBAP). The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has been
fulfilling its mandate within the ambit of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
(WPA-1972) for strengthening tiger conservation in the country by retaining an
oversight through advisories/normative guidelines based on appraisal of
population status of tiger, ongoing conservation initiatives and recommendations
of specially constituted Committees. Several PAs have been notified as Tiger
Reserves (TRs) since the initiation of the second NWAP. Beginning with 9 TRs in
1973, the number of TRs has gone up to 48 (Rajaji NP in Uttarakhand being the
latest), encompassing about 2.12% of total geographical area of the country.
'Project Tiger' is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) of the MoEFCC providing
funding support to the tiger range States for in-situ conservation of tigers in
designated TRs, and has put the endangered tiger on an assured path of recovery
by saving it from extinction, as revealed by the recent findings of the All
India tiger estimation of 2226 (1945-2491) tigers with 1540 (1686) individual
photographs of adults using the refined methodology.
However there were certain inadequacies in the previous NWAP. Considering the
inadequacy of the PA network in certain biogeographic zones; challenges of
meeting the biomass needs of poor people; and need for much more effective and
interactive monitoring of the PA network, the following actions and projects are
recommended for the next NWAP (2017-2031):
1. Undertake periodic review of the status of Protected Areas in India.
2. Expedite the process of settlement of rights in the existing or proposed
3. Enhance the PA network by including terrestrial, inland water and
coastal/marine areas of high conservation values and by integrating PAs into
wider landscapes and seascapes as per the Target 11 of the NBAP.
4. Complete the process of rationalisation and demarcation of boundaries and
zonation for effective management of PAs.
5. Prepare Integrated and Adaptive Management Plans for all the PAs.
6. Promote use of modern tools for monitoring and surveillance of highly
7. Assess, monitor and manage the alien invasive species inside PAs and TRs
8. Secure wildlife corridors and also draw appropriate plans for their
9. Improve the capacity of frontline staff for better monitoring and
management of PAs.
10. Involve local communities in protection and management of PAs.
The Plan is based on the premise that essential ecological processes that are
governed, supported or strongly moderated by ecosystems, are essential for food
production, health and other aspects of human survival and sustainable
development. And maintenance of these ecosystems which can be termed as 'Life
Support Systems' is vital for all societies regardless of their stage of
development. It also emphasizes on other two aspects of living resource
conservation viz. preservation of genetic diversity and sustainable utilization
of species and ecosystems which has direct bearing on our scientific
advancements and support to millions of rural communities.
The Plan adopts landscape approach in conservation of all uncultivated flora
and undomesticated fauna that has ecological value to mankind irrespective of
where they occur. It accords special emphasis to rehabilitation of threatened
species of wildlife while conserving their habitats which include inland
aquatic, coastal and marine eco-systems. It also takes note of concerns relating
to climate change on wildlife by integrating it in to wildlife management
It underlines the fact that despite being one of 12 mega biodiversity
countries of the world, national planning has not taken serious note of adverse
ecological consequences of reduction and degradation of wilderness areas from
the pressures of population, commercialization and development projects.
Accordingly, the plan has brought to focus the alarming erosion of our natural
heritage comprising of rivers, forests, grasslands, mountains, wetlands, coastal
and marine habitats arid lands and deserts.
The plan underscores the increasing need for people's support for
conservation of wildlife and to this effect recommends strengthening the 'core
buffer multiple use surround' structure with higher inputs for eco-development,
education, innovation, training, extension, conservation awareness and outreach
programs. Wildlife health is yet another area which receives attention in this
Plan. Management of tourism in wildlife areas with related plough back
mechanism, development of Human resource and Staff welfare has undergone
reorientation in the Plan.
The plan is alive to communities, inhabiting forest lands and other
wilderness areas, to be treated appropriately in the light of Forest Rights Act
and their inadequacy of resources and strong dependence on natural biomass
resource. The plan takes note of and addresses rising human animal conflict
owing to shrinkage , fragmentation and deterioration of habitats generating
animosity against wild animals and protected areas.