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Impact of Climate Change on endemic Flora and Fauna – Environment & Ecology

Impact of Climate Change on endemic Flora and Fauna – Environment & Ecology

Relevance:

  • GS 3|| Environment || Climate Change || India & Climate Change

Why in the news?

Climate change and its repercussions are a looming challenge the world is facing today

Present context:

  • Flora and Fauna is an important part of our ecosystem in an environment without which environmental imbalance led to the disturbance in the life cycle of the organic and inorganic material.
  • Though, starting with the Earth Summit of 1992, continued every year in the name of Conference of Parties, the issue of climate change is given much attention nationally and internationally, there is a long way to go before the threat of climate change can be contained in letter and spirit.

Burning problem climate change:

  • The temperature of the earth is constantly increasing due to climate change
  • Disparities are shown in the growth and flowering habits of plants
  • Many species of fish which are earlier found in lower altitudes are now drifting towards higher altitudes e.g. Fishes species of Malabar Coast can be found near Gujarat coast
  • The water cycle is also affected by this climate change due to which we are facing issues like erratic rainfall, droughts, floods etc.
    Due to this increase in climate many migratory birds decreasing their migration places like Amur falcons
  • Due to this climate change many other problems like, low crop harvest and emergence of new diseases.

Various indicator of climate change has been observed in India:

  • Northwards/Pole-wards Movement of Species: Many species of flora and fauna has been observed to be moving towards Poles/North/Higher altitude to reach a suitable climate. This can be called an adaptation measure.
    • For example, Himachali Apples do not grow anymore in the lower Kullu Valley but in the higher reaches. Similarly, fish species like mackerel and oil sardines are moving from Malabar Upwelling zone off Kerala Coast due to a rise in temperature of sea waters (0.6 degrees) towards North near Gujarat coast.
    • On the East Coast too, the movement is perceived from Andhara towards West Bengal. Many other faunal species including amphibians, insects, birds etc have been observed to be shifting.
  • Extinction: But there are also limits to movement due to geographical and physiological factors. In such a case, the danger of species becoming extinct can not be ruled out. Many species of frogs have become extinct. Species like Nilgiri tahr are facing the danger of extinction.
  • Adaptation: Many species may even fail to adapt to the changing temperature which are highly sensitive to it. Coral reefs are getting damaged due to the sea surface temperature. Early budburst is happening in mangoes in Karnataka, coffee in Kerala, chironji in Orissa and figs in Sikkim.

Devastating and irreversible effect to the flora and fauna:

  • Western Ghats: The Nilgiri Thar has shown a rapid decrease in its population due to habitat loss as its primary reason and this can have direct relations with climate change
  • Marine ecosystem: Fish species a such as mackerel are moving further northward which was earlier exclusively found at the Malabar coasts has found their shelter at Gujarat and Maharashtra coasts for their survival which is an example of marine habitat loss
  • Disappearing coral reefs: The dying of coral is a great threat to all island nations in the world in India there are evidences of loss of coral reefs from Kavarati Lakshadweep islands. This due to the expulsion of phytoplankton from the reefs. temperature difference is a primary reason for this
  • Shifting of Range: Due to increased temperature there is shifting of range for some fish species like Mackerel and oil sardine to North in Gujarat.
    • Indian Himalayas has warmed by 1.5 degree Celsius causing Himalayan apples to no longer thrive at lower altitudes.
    • The treeline in Uttarakhand has moved higher by over a thousand feet since the 1970s.
    • In the eastern Himalayas, innumerable species — of reptiles, butterflies, birds, deer, bees have shifted higher.
  • Changing Lifecycle events:
    • Rhododendrons are now flowering earlier by over forty days.
    • Changed timings of flowering happened with mangoes in coastal Karnataka, figs in Manipal, chironji (Buchanania lanzan) in Orissa, coffee in Kerala.
  • Extinction of Species: There are concerns about extinction of endemic species and alpine plants at the top of mountain ecosystems, forest species of pine and Sal in central India, the Nilgiri tahr in the montane forests among others.
  • Due to global warming temperature on India’s west coast rose by 0.6 degree Celsius this lead to certain fish species migrating towards North. Mackeral range of fish has shifted from Andhra cost to west Bengal. Even in river Ganga warm water fish can be found near Haridwar.

Steps taken by government:

  • To avoid overexploitation, it is essential to promote the sustainable use of forest resources.
  • To address the effects of shifting agriculture, the government should incentivize settled agriculture. Shifting agriculture is a direct contributor to deforestation.
    • Improving tree cover across the country has a number of advantages, including monsoon control, better air quality, and more room for flora and fauna to thrive.
  • The government can use the available International Climate Fund to fund the use of indigenous plants and trees for restoring and improving the forest’s periphery.
  • Endemic species lay very important role in maintaining ecosystem, government has taken few steps in maintaining its balance but yet many species there are in IUCN red list

Conclusion:

According to many surveys and with personal observation one can see the changes in flower blooming, breeding periods among different species more frequent pest attacks, stunted and unhealthy growth in plants can be easily seen in our garden or nearby areas. The plants and animals are also get affected by heat stress, drought and floods. Nature life is being sacrificed for human beings good. Smart initiatives should be taken to strike a balance between nature and human life. Awareness, education and greener perspective is the need of the hour.

Mains oriented question:

Discuss how climate change has impacted significant flora and fauna in India using appropriate examples. (250 words)