Current Affairs for OAS Prelims 2018: Environment & Ecology- August 2018

Khangchenzonga Biosphere Reserve

1. Khangchenzonga Biosphere Reserve enters UNESCO List: The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve (KBR) of Sikkim, the highest biosphere reserve in the country that includes the third highest mountain peak in the world, Kanchenjunga (8,586 m), has been included in the UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserve (WHBR). The decision was taken at the International Coordinating Council of Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme, UNESCO, in its 30th Session held at Palembang, Indonesia.

With the inclusion of the KBR, one of the highest ecosystems in the world, reaching elevations of 1,220 m to 8,586 m above sea level, the number of biosphere reserves from the country included in World Network of Biosphere Reserves has increased to 11. The last biosphere reserve to be included was the Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve in Kerala in 2016. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve was the first reserve from the country to be included in the WNBR. India has 18 biospheres reserves, of which 11 have been included in the WNBR.

The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve is one of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots that has good species diversity with high levels of endemism, with many mountains, peaks, lakes, caves, rocks, stupas (shrines) and hot springs. According to the Sikkim Forest Department, there are 4,500 species of flowering plants in the KBR, including 424 medicinal plants and 36 rhododendrons, 60 species of primulas and 11 varieties of oaks .The biosphere reserve has also listed 362 species of ferns.Over 118 species of the large number of medicinal plants are found in Dzongu Valley in north Sikkim. Source: The Hindu

2. IMD to set up cyclone warning centre in Thiruvananthapuram: With several incidents of tropical cyclones and severe weather events striking over Kerala and Karnataka coasts in the recent times, the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences is proposing to set up a Cyclone Warning Centre in Thiruvananthapuram. The Ministry is planning to set up the Centre in another one month. At present, IMD has cyclone warning centres only at Chennai, Vishakhapatnam, Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Mumbai. The Centre will cater to the needs of Kerala and Karnataka states and will be equipped with all state of the art infrastructure including forecasting tools to issue weather warnings and coastal bulletins (for fishermen,etc.).It will further strengthen the present forecasting activity in India Meteorological Department’s existing office in Kerala.

The Ministry is also planning to set up another C-Band Doppler Weather Radar at Mangalore by end of 2019, which will cover the northern parts of Kerala. At present, there are two Doppler Weather Radars in the state, at Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. With these 3 radars, the entire state will be covered for monitoring of rainfall and severe weather events, and adequately warn the people well in advance. IMD has developed many new models and tools right from nowcasts (2-3 hours) to extended range forecasts (15-20 days’ lead time). The Department is also planning to organize an awareness and training workshop for the state disaster management authorities of all states and other stakeholders by next month, to brief and train them on the new tools and how to make use of them for effective decision making. source: PIB

3. India’s first flight powered by Biofuel lands at IGI airport: The country’s first ever biojet-fuel run flight landed in Delhi. An official statement said the flight was operated by SpiceJet from Dehradun to Delhi with Bombardier Q400 plane. Officials from regulatory agencies, including the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), were on board this flight.A SpiceJet statement said the company intends to undertake operations using a blend of 75 per cent aviation turbine fuel and 25 per cent of biojet fuel. The biojet fuel was made of jatropha crop and developed by the CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum. This has the potential to reduce carbon footprint by 15 per cent, the statement added. source: The Hindu Bussinessline

4. NGT forms committee on natural conservation zones: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has constituted a committee to ascertain whether sub-regional plans for protection of Natural Conservation Zones (NCZs) are in consonance with the regional plans prepared by the National Capital Planning Board. The committee will comprise officials from the Environment Ministry, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Central Pollution Control Board, National Remote Sensing Centre, Indian Space Research Organisation and officials from the State governments of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi. Source: The Hindu

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