National Wildlife Action Plan 2017-31

National Wildlife Action Plan 2017-31   
-Susan Sharma 

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has been implementing the National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016), as adopted by the Indian Board for Wildlife in 2002. In order to review the implementation of the said Action Plan and to suggest a new Plan of Action for Wildlife Conservation, the Ministry has constituted a Committee under the chairmanship of Shri J C Kala, Ex-DGF and Secretary to the Government of India. The Committee have drafted the National Wildlife Action Plan (2017-2031).

The new Wildlife Action Plan emphasizes landscape approach to conservation, climate change preparedness and reduction in human-wildlife conflict.  It will impact 4.89% of country’s land area, its wildlife population and the lives of millions of people living in and around forests.

The key to this well intentioned plan is its implementation.

The NWAP is the policy framework on which management plans for the protected areas (PAs) will be developed in the coming 15 years. There are 733 protected areas in the country, constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 (WPA). This includes 103 national parks, 537 wildlife sanctuaries, 67 conservation reserves and 26 community reserves. The action plan launched recently is the third one for the country – the first was from 1983 to 2001, the second from 2002 to 2016.

 “The traditional approach of looking at conservation within the boundaries of PAs is not as relevant today, and hence we decided to look at landscapes in their entirety so that development and conservation can be prioritized simultaneously.”

J.C. Kala, a former director general of forests who chaired the committee that drafted the NWAP.

Also, there is an emphasis on vulnerability mapping for fires, epidemics, drought and other environmental stresses that come with the changing climate. The NWAP states that there is a need to strengthen research on adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

“We need to develop robust data to understand region-specific scenarios and how that can affect landscapes and trigger human-wildlife conflicts.  The document is only a guideline that provides the broad principles. The details have to be worked out by those working in each of the sectors".  

Raman Sukumar, elephant expert and professor at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, who was a member of the drafting committee. 

The Plan which is 113 pages in all, can be read/downloaded at 

Some of the notable observations are

1. Wildlife in the urban landscapes and otherhuman habitations as well as the marine and coastal biodiversity need more conservation attention.

2. Identify important wildlife habitats, corridors and sacred groves situated outside the administrative control of the SFDs in collaboration with suitable NGOs and Scientific Institutes and get them notified as Community Reserves.

3. Corridors for large mammals need to be secured. Elephant and tigercorridors across the country have been identified in several reports of the MOEFCC. On ground demarcation of those corridors, and restricted land use change need to be in place for those areas.  

Photo of Elephants crossing courtesy

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