Matters concerned with Environment

Thursday, December 9, 2010

IUCN assessing status of freshwater biodiversity

IUCN in the process of assessing freshwater biodiversity of India - The Hindu | India Water Portal

The freshwater biodiversity of the
country is being assessed by the International Union for Conservation of
Nature (IUCN). It is after a gap of 13 years that the freshwater
biodiversity of the country, including fish, molluscs, insects and
plants, is being assessed using the IUCN Red List Categories and
Criteria. The last such assessment was held in 1997.


Nemachelus botia, a loach fish species, endemic to Western Ghats


The assessment of the biodiversity of
freshwater bodies in north India has been completed and the results
updated in the Red List of the agency.

The list is considered a comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species.

It
has nine classifications namely extinct, extinct in the wild,
critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, near threatened, least
concern, data deficient and not evaluated. The classification of species
threatened with extinction—vulnerable, endangered and critically
endangered - is carried out after assessing the biological factors
related to extinction risk like the rate of decline of the population,
population size, the area of geographic distribution, degree of
population and distribution fragmentation.

It is estimated that
only 13 of the 807 species of freshwater fish found in India have been
assessed using the Red list criteria. Regarding the other species, only
four insects, two species freshwater molluscs and one species of
freshwater plant have so far been assessed.

The preliminary
assessment of the freshwater biodiversity of the Western Ghats has been
completed and the list is being peer-reviewed by international experts,
said Sanjay Molur, executive director, Zoo Outreach Organisation,
Coimbatore, which partnered with the IUCN for the assessment.

The list will be released at a function in Thiruvananthapuram later this month, he said.

During
the evaluation held in Coimbatore recently, the status of around 250
fish were assessed. Around 100 other species were left out as they were
also found in the waterbodies in north India, said a fisheries expert
who took part in the process.

According to initial reports,
around 30 fish species have been included in the endangered and 15 in
critically endangered lists from the region. It was also reported that
there was no reports on one fish species from the Tamil Nadu region of
the Ghats for the last 20 years.

The Ghats region is facing
increased threats due to economic development in the form of
deforestation, construction of dams, sand mining, pollution and
over-harvesting.

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