India

India

©  Shannon Wild Case Study by: Lee Brann Ratings: 2-5% Protected; High Biodiversity; High Opportunity   OVERVIEW India is home to 1.3 billion people and 8% of the world’s biodiversity, placing it among the most mega-populated and megadiverse countries. For these reasons alone, advancing protection for nature in India is as necessary as it is challenging. India’s human population is dependent upon this region’s rich biological diversity, and both the human and natural environment will accrue substantial benefits from the expansion of interconnected protected areas. A record of remarkable conservation achievements, impressive institutional frameworks, and strong cultural appreciation for nature are compelling reasons to invest in this region, promising that with time and effort ambitious conservation objectives are achievable.   HISTORY India possesses a commendable environmental problem-solving legacy, solutions that were only possible because of India’s monumental conservation laws, statutes, policies, and institutions. India’s Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, recognized as one of the most powerful conservation statutes in the world, created a pathway for a world-class system of protected areas and reserves. The Forest Act of 1980 played a significant role in curbing the deforestation that had been steadily rising as forests were, in preceding years, released by states for agriculture and other development. India’s Environmental Protection Act of 1986 has installed vital controls on environmental pollutants and laid the groundwork for protecting Eco-Sensitive Zones. These achievements are even more impressive in the light of the outsized challenges India confronts, including crushing poverty, underdevelopment, and the world’s second largest population. Collectively, these and other measures have produced some remarkable conservation achievements. India now has a network of 764 protected...
Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Case Study by: Austin Perez When most people think of Hong Kong, they likely often picture an image of a gorgeous skyline and the busy streets of a thriving metropolis. With a population of over 7 million people in an area of only about 1,000 km2, Hong Kong is certainly a bustling modern city with a dense population, a flourishing economy, and some of the world’s most impressive infrastructure. However, despite its dense population and pressure to develop its available lands for continued economic growth, Hong Kong has made a tremendous commitment to preserve wild nature in the region and thereby establish one of the most expansive urban wildlife conservation policies in the world. Hong Kong Cityscape at night Beyond the skyscrapers of the city center, Hong Kong has a vibrant and beautiful natural environment that is home to a rich diversity of wildlife, and its government has placed a major emphasis on ensuring the preservation of Hong Kong’s “urban wilderness.”  In total, Hong Kong has designated about 41% of its land area and about 1.5% of its marine environment as protected areas, which makes Hong Kong an excellent example of how the vision of Nature Needs Half can be applied in the urban environment of a large modern city. Following the wartime period in the 1940’s, Hong Kong’s environment was largely decimated and the region was almost completely deforested due to a demand for timber during the war. In addition, the rapid population growth, urban encroachment, and unplanned recreation use in the region in the middle of the 20th century further deteriorated Hong Kong’s natural environment. However, the...
Bhutan

Bhutan

Gross National Happiness includes protected areas. Bhutan has taken a highly proactive approach to maintaining the integrity of its ecosystems and biodiversity by developing a large protected areas system interconnected via biological corridors. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Nature Conservation Division reports that in 2009 Bhutan had 10 protected areas totaling 16,396.43 km2 representing 42.71% of the country’s surface area, combined with 3,307.14 km2 in biological corridors linking the protected areas and representing 8.61% of the country’s surface area. Thus, Bhutan currently has 51.32% of its area under protection, as announced by the Director of the Department of Forest in November 2009. The protected areas and corridors are managed via a landscape conservation strategy called the Bhutan Biological Conservation Complex or “B2C2”. In the forward of the strategy, Secretary Sangay thinly states: “Key characteristics of the programme include: focus on biodiversity conservation in protected areas; biological corridors and conservation areas; commitment to positive human-nature interactions; promotion of public environmental education; encourage partnerships in conservation programmes to address a wider range of issues; and optimizing the use of limited resources.” (download the full strategy, 2.5MB) In addition Bhutan has a number of small Conservation Areas (some of which are privately managed) totaling less than 1% of its surface area. These are not officially part of Bhutan’s protected areas network, but nonetheless play an important role in species and biodiversity conservation efforts in the country. Finally, Bhutan has also committed to maintaining 60% of its forest cover at all times and has engaged in extensive reforestation projects. Bhutan’s Biodiversity Action Plan states that Bhutan considers conservation to be one of...