Sanctuaries for rhododendrons and orchids have been established in Sikkim. The Ministry of Environment and Forests constituted National Afforestation and Eco- development Board (NAEB). NAEB has evolved schemes for promoting afforestation. Twelve biodiversity rich areas are designated as Biosphere Reserves (BR). Nilgiri BR has been recently added to International Network of Biosphere Reserves.
Kaziranga NP, Keoladeo Ghana NP, Manas WLS, Nanda Devi NP and Sunderbans NP are World Heritage Sites. Project Tiger, initiated in 1973 presently cover 27 tiger reserves in 14 states with a total area of 37 761 km2. Project Elephant was formally launched in 1992 to ensure long-term survival of elephant population in their natural habitats. Project aims at ecological restoration of existing natural habitats and migratory routes of elephants, development of scientific and planned management for conservation of elephant habitats.
This also aims at mitigating human-elephant conflicts, implementing anti-poaching measures as well as conducting research and training. Programmes for in situ conservation of mammals include Indian rhino, lion, and certain primates (such as the Indo-US Primate Project in Northeast India) and aquatic mammals including river dolphins. Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) have identified 309 forest preservation plots of representative forest types for conservation of viable and representative areas of biodiversity. Of these, 187 plots are in natural forests and 112 in plantations, covering a total area of 8500 hectares. Eco-development programmes for in situ biodiversity conservation involving local communities are continuing. Wetland conservation has been a priority for the government since late 1980s.
In 1986/87, the Indian government initiated programme on conservation and management of mangroves and coral reefs. Fifteen mangroves and 4 coral reefs were identified for conservation and management. Another 15 mangrove areas have been added to the list are found in Gulf of Mannar, Palk Bay, Gulf of Kutch, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Lakshadweep islands. Prii ,ary fragile coral reefs that are a conservation priority are found in Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Gulf of Mannar and Gulf of Kutch. Indian Coral Reef Monitoring Network was formed for activities relating to coral reefs including research and monitoring, training and capacity-building, and establishment of a database. With collaboration of State Forest Departments of Kerala, Karnatakaand Tamil Nadu, Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions has established 30 Medicinal Plant Conservation Areas and 15 parks to store germplasm of threatened, rare and endemic, medicinal plants. In situ conservation of agro-biodiversity has been strengthened through steps taken by the government and NGOs to protect the conservation traditions of farming communities.
Ex-situ Conservation in India:
Ex-situ conservation has been institutionalized by setting up botanic and zoological gardens and gene banks including National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) and National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (NBFGR).
Indian National Gene Bank houses collections of indigenous germplasm, seeds, propagules, and carries out distribution and exchange of material. Central Zoo Authority oversees functioning of zoos, carries out breeding programmes and provides guidelines to zoos to monitor their activities. Total number of zoos, animal parks and aquaria is about 300, while there are 34 botanic gardens including National Botanical Garden in Noida, Uttar Pradesh (MoEF, 1998). A scheme ‘Assistance to Botanic Gardens’ provides one-time assistance to botanic gardens to strengthen and institute measures for conservation of threatened and endangered species. Conservation of selected species includes captive breeding programmes. Crocodile breeding and management project was launched in 1976 to save fresh water crocodile, salt water crocodile and gharial.
Crocodiles of these species are reared at 16 centres and sometimes released into wild. Eleven sanctuaries established specially for crocodile protection including National Chambal Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.