Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Adapting National Parks and Wetlands: Will laws do?

News of floods and news worthy weather events have been abound this summer, from Washington D.C. area to Russia. In Assam, India, floods have reportedly killed around 12 people and displaced over 2 million people. Amidst this tragic devastation, are also reports of floods and animal deaths in Kaziranga National Park. The national park is a UNESCO world heritage site and home to an endangered species, the one-horned rhino. Over 500 animals and about a dozen rhinos have reportedly died in the floods. Since this is not the first incident, albiet it is reportedly the worst since 1998, the government had sufficient time to come up with a plan to manage such floods. Yet, dismal performance by the authorities has led to mismanagement, despite availability of funds. So much so that an inquiry panel has reportedly been established to inquire into the matter.

The devastation in Assam raises another general concern. While the floods have not been attributed to climate change, floods and other catastrophes are predicted to increase with climate change. The best option at this point is to pursue adapation policy and the process has started internationally. But, what Assam's experience shows is that not only people, but a lot of animals and other species will be affected. Even if we take an anthropocentric view, it means that ecosystem imbalances will be created. So, in addition to creating management plans to redress loss to human life and property, a mechanism needs to be established to help animals and species adapt to catastrophic event. The question, of course, is how...




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