Tuesday, November 13, 2018

My City My Responsibility - Change in Biodiversity

Common Grey Hornbill
Dear All, 

In continuation with my last blog on green cover analysis of Pune city, under our Sustainably Smart Pune study we correlated the bird biodiversity data available from RANWA's website in order to check the status of biodiversity in the city. Though the data available on RANWA is dated back to 1999 it served as a good starting point for analyzing the population trend among birds in Pune. 

Firstly, biodiversity is the diversity or variety observed in flora (plant life) and fauna (animal life). Biodiversity is a vast subject, since there is vast variety in tree species, insects, birds, butterflies animals etc. Further this variety also depends on habitat, whether it is on land or underwater. For eg. Tree species found in evergreen forests, differ from the tree species found on scrub land, similarly tree species found near a river differ from tree species found near the sea. Variety in flora and fauna also changes with seasons, hence we have migratory species. In recent years diversity has been affected by urbanization. In all a good local diversity in both flora and fauna indicates a healthier planet and hence it is imperative to understand the biodiversity of any place. 

Considering the vastness of the subject, our biodiversity analysis was limited to only bird species of Pune city based on the information available on RANWA. On analyzing the data given on the website, it was found that resident bird species that were seen commonly in the city showed occasional occurrence and a declining trend in population due to loss of habitats like forests, scrubland and agriculture. These habitats were lost due to its conversion to either plantation or habitation, as we saw in the last blog, we have completely converted the original landscapes in the span of just 50 years.  

Birds like Buzzard and Crested Hawk Eagle commonly seen around the forests of Pune are nearly gone. Common Grey Hornbill, House Sparrows and House Crows seen abundantly also showed a declining trend. Whereas birds like Blackwinged Stilt that are seen near polluted water can be seen abundantly along our rivers. Jungle Mynas, Jungle Crows and Red Whiskered Bulbuls are showing an increasing trend along with the Common Pigeons that we see everywhere. 

Urbanization is one of the major reasons for these habitat conversions and plantation of non native trees on the hills of Pune is another reason for the change in the biodiversity. Native tree plantation and local restoration and conserving techniques can indeed help in enhancing the biodiversity of our city. 

Seeing the big picture, our project basically aims at defining an approach for planning a Sustainably SMART city and this sample study is a very minute part of biodiversity analysis. Hence there is a need to holistically analyse the entire biodiversity cover of the city and for that we need a systematic and updated database of the city's biodiversity that includes all the flora and fauna, which is a mammoth task. Nevertheless sources like RANWA can be updated by integrating data from other available data sources after authenticating the information through field level experts and scholars, also integrating data from PMC like that of tree census etc. All the available data can be clubbed into a single platform as an open source. Thus taking the first step to understand the biodiversity cover of the city and then charting an action plan based on the biodiversity status towards a Sustainable city that cares for its biodiversity, has to be the way forward.  

Pournima Agarkar. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This is very good information! Their susceptibility to even minor changes in the landscape makes Biodiversity a strong indicator of the condition of natural environment.