India is known for its rich biological diversity due to the presence of large numbers of plant and animal species. It is one of the top-ranking, mega-diverse countries of the world.
Our cultural diversity has played a key role in conserving floral and faunal diversity. Having said that, this diversity is now in danger.
Take for instance, trees. In spite of their valuable services to humanity, trees are being ruthlessly destroyed because of developmental projects and increased dependence.
While several species are facing threats from anthropogenic pressure, many are threatened due to invasive alien species and climate change.
It is high time that the state and the central governments come forward for recovery of the rare, endangered and threatened (RET) tree species.
Before taking scientific measures to ensure their conservation and cultivation, it is very much necessary to identify them, assess their natural distribution and study their population status.
Pristine forests have been fragmented because of intense developmental activities over the past few decades. More than 100 tree species of high economic importance have become threatened and critically endangered in the Western Ghats.
Their small population size is considered to be the major threat. It cannot sustain them due to inbreeding and loss of genetic variability. It has become urgent to carry out scientific conservation programmes for recovering these species.
Unless urgent measures are taken to restore critically endangered species, they will become extinct. Species recovery is the process through which the decline of a threatened species is arrested or reversed and threats removed so that the survival of the species in the wild can be ensured.
Many countries have initiated plans to address the resurrection of the RET species. Species recovery programmes have been carried out successfully in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia.
In the United States, there is special legislation such as the Endangered Species Act, 1973, (ESA) for carrying out species recovery programmes. The Act, that was implemented in 1973, has provisions for listing the species as ‘endangered’, developing recovery plans for each species and designating critical habitats.
So far, 47 species have been stabilised through different recovery processes and have been excluded from the recovery programmes. A gradual increase in the population size, habitat restoration and captive breeding or population stabilisation have been achieved through recovery programmes