Day 72 – Q 3.What are the existing threats to the mountain ecosystem in India? Discuss. Suggest a sustainable strategy to maintain the ecological integrity of mountains.
3. What are the existing threats to the mountain ecosystem in India? Discuss. Suggest a sustainable strategy to maintain the ecological integrity of mountains.
भारत में पर्वतीय पारिस्थितिकी तंत्र के लिए मौजूदा खतरे क्या हैं? चर्चा करें। पहाड़ों की पारिस्थितिक अखंडता को बनाए रखने के लिए एक स्थायी रणनीति का सुझाव दें।
Mountain ecosystems are an important source of biological diversity, along with water and mineral resources where mountains are ecosystems with a distinct identity just like the flood plains, deltas, mangroves, wetlands, and deserts. Mountain ecosystems are particularly fragile, subject to both natural and anthropogenic drivers of change. Therefore, their effective management is not only important for mountain communities, but also for a sizeable proportion of the global population.
- Ecosystems are of fundamental importance to environmental functioning and sustainability, and they provide many goods and services critical to individuals and societies. Beyond their common characteristics of high relative relief and steep slopes, mountains are remarkably diverse and globally important as centres of biological diversity.
- Recent scientific opinion led by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is that global climate change is happening and will present practical challenges to local ecosystems. The analysis and predictions showing an increase in the magnitude of climate change with altitude (in terms of both temperature and variation in precipitation).
- Ecosystems in the mountains are being impaired and destroyed by a wide variety of human activities. The survival of the ecosystems and wildlife in the mountains is being threatened by human activities like timber harvesting, intensive grazing by livestock, and agricultural expansion into forestland.
- Rapid and unsustainable economic and population growth in the mountainous regions is imposing increasing stress on the natural environment. As a result, environmental deterioration in mountains is driven by numerous factors, including deforestation, overgrazing by livestock, and the cultivation of marginal soils leading to soil erosion, landslides, and the rapid loss of habitat and genetic diversity.
- Forest ecosystems are stressed by habitat change and fragmentation, which occurs as humans subdivide forest plots into ever smaller and more isolated sections.
- Pollution can also stress forest trees, especially in urban, industrial, and heavily populated areas. Non-native fungal diseases and insect pests can severely stress forests and cause the effective extinction of previously dominant trees and threaten others.
- Species in high altitude areas – especially in the transition zone between subalpine and alpine – are more vulnerable to climate change. In addition, the region’s wetlands are being affected by the erratic weather observed in many parts of the region.
- Invasive species that outcompete native species and synergistically interact with climate change to threaten native organisms. Further, synergistic action between commercial harvesting and climate change will have detrimental impacts on subtropical and temperate timber forests.
- Environmental contamination- Nutrient enrichment from agricultural runoff could act synergistically with various factors due to increasing changes in biodiversity to enhance eutrophication in freshwater systems.
Proper management of mountain resources and the socio-economic development of people need immediate action. There is need to develop land use planning and management for mountain fed watersheds. Further, the government should give opportunities and following can be adopted to maintain the ecological integrity of mountains:
- Promote erosion control measures that are low in cost, simple and can be easily used; Enhance forest management policy for the protection of natural forests (control and stop deforestation and ecological damage), prevent desertification processes, and mixed-use strategies.
- Offer people incentives to conserve resources and use environmentally friendly technologies in mountainous ecosystems, help them to understand what is sustainable development in mountains and involve them in resource management;
- Provide information on alternative livelihoods involving, for example, crops, livestock, poultry, beekeeping, fisheries, village industries, markets and transport;
- Create protected areas to save Biodiversity (wild genetic resources); Adopt integrated ecosystem planning, monitoring, and management of vulnerable ecosystems.
- Identify hazardous areas that are most vulnerable to erosion, floods, landslides, earthquakes, snow avalanches and other natural hazards and develop early warning systems and disaster response teams;
- Identify mountain areas threatened by air pollution from neighboring industrial and urban areas;
- Create centers of information on mountain ecosystems, including expertise on sustainable agriculture and conservation practices where people can turn for help in learning about sustainable mountain development.
Maintaining resilience in mountain ecosystems is the primary objective of adaptation strategies for protecting wildlife and habitats. Activities that conserve biological diversity, reduce fragmentation and degradation of habitat, and increase functional connectivity among habitat fragments will increase the ability of mountain ecosystems to resist anthropogenic environmental stresses, including climate change.