Here is a compilation of term papers on ‘Biodiversity’ for class 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short term papers on ‘Biodiversity’ especially written for school and college students.
Term Paper on Biodiversity
Term Paper Contents:
- Term Paper on the Definition of Biodiversity
- Term Paper on the Importance of Biodiversity
- Term Paper on the Causes for the Loss of Biodiversity
- Term Paper on the Rate of Extinction
- Term Paper on the Conservation of Biodiversity
- Term Paper on the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP)
- Term Paper on the Intellectual Property Rights and Patents Vis-a-Vis Biodiversity
Term Paper # 1. Definition of Biodiversity:
The key points of the above definition are:
Biodiversity is scalable — that is it exists on many levels, e.g., the genes within populations, the populations within species, the species within ecosystems, the ecosystems within landscapes, the landscapes within bioregions, and so on.
Biodiversity is a key element of ecosystems — without the connections biodiversity creates, ecosystems fall apart.
The first challenge to protecting biodiversity is understanding what it means and then, why you should care about it.
Biodiversity is the variety of species, their genetic make-up, and the natural communities in which they occur. It includes all of the native plants and animals in Pennsylvania and the processes that sustain life on Earth. Pennsylvania is home to over 25,000 different species of organisms, and of this total, over 800 are considered to be rare, threatened, or endangered. For many groups of organisms, such as insects, fungi, and algae, very little is known about them — not even what species occur in Pennsylvania! The need to understand the state’s rich natural resources has never been more critical.
The term ecosystem is defined as a community of living organisms combined with their associated physical environment. It is our “home system” that makes life possible.
Ecosystems are the full tapestry of nature that support life and they also provide valuable services:
i. Wetland ecosystems filter out toxins, clean the water, and control floods.
ii. Estuaries act as marine-life nurseries.
iii. Forest ecosystems supply fresh water, provide oxygen, control erosion, and remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Many species, working together, are needed to provide these critical services. The loss of biodiversity reduces nature’s ability to perform these functions. As greater fluctuations occur, ecosystems as a whole become less stable. Instability causes ecosystems to be more vulnerable to extreme conditions and may also decrease productivity.
Term Paper # 2. Importance of Biodiversity:
Biodiversity is important for biosphere’s health, stability and proper functioning.
It has been part and parcel of human life since time immemorial. It is important to human race for various reasons:
(a) It serves as important natural resource. These bio- resources not only provide human beings food, medicines and clothing, but also mental and spiritual welfare. About 3000 plant species are regarded as source of food.
(b) As valuable genetic resources. Wild plants are important genetic resources and used in crop breeding programmes. Around 21,000 plants with medicinal uses are listed by WHO, out of which only 5000 species have been tested for their potential source of new drugs. Global herbal market is estimated to be around US $62 billion, and expected to reach US $3 trillion by 2050. In India, there are about 8000 species of medicinal plants. The Indian export of herbal medicine/material is around 446 crores which can go up to 3000 crores by 2005.
(c) The forests and their products serve as source of livelihood and others.
(d) It acts as an instrument of maintaining a stable and healthy ecosystems; this ensures optimum utilization of abiotic resources.
(e) It has a great economic implication. The unspoiled natures of exotic ecosystems have the real economic value, e.g., each lion in an African National Park has an annual visitor-attraction value of US $ 27000. In a real sense, value of biodiversity determines not just the sense of its worth but the way it is used or abused.
Conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is ingrained in the Indian ethos and culture. Millions of people derive their daily livelihood from forests, rivers, grasslands and seas. The practices and beliefs of forest dwelling tribes, nomadic communities, fisher’s folk and farmers remain closely interlinked with the biodiversity they possess.
Biodiversity is also important in several less obvious ways:
This is vital for fruit and vegetable production. Bees, other insects, bats, birds pollinate about 75% of world’s staple crops.
(ii) Healthy Soil Communities:
The top thin layer of earth crust – about 15 cm deep contains rich organic materials, minerals, nutrients, microbes, insects, worms etc., which increase the fertility of soil and help improve plant productivity. The health of soil thus is dependent on diversity of these organisms. These breakdown and recycle the organic matter, furnishing nutrients that help crops, pastures and forests grow.
(iii) Natural Pest Control:
Natural parasites and predators serve as free ‘pest control’.
Biodiversity renders its services through its role in photosynthesis, transpiration, nutrient cycling, climate regulation, air and water management and waste management. The economic value of 17 different ecological services biodiversity covering 16 biomes has been extrapolated to be in the range of US $16-54 trillion (1012) per year.
Today, very large areas in the world that were previously covered by forests, water bodies and the like have been taken over. Also, human activities have caused tremendous damage to biodiversity. Biodiversity built up by nature over billions of years is now under threat.
Term Paper # 3. Causes for the Loss of Biodiversity:
(1) Destruction of Natural Ecosystems:
Loss of natural habitat is the greatest threat to the survival of wild species. Habitat destruction and fragmentation are presently recognised as the most serious cause of species extinction. Habitat fragmentation increases the extinction rate by – (a) Reducing population size, (b) Enhancing stochastic processes and genetic bottlenecks, (c) Reducing or eliminating keystone predators, and (d) Favouring edge-effect.
Modernization and human activities like clearing of land for agriculture, mining and industries, highway construction, dam building etc., destroy the natural habitat of most animals and plants. These organisms are adapted to live and reproduce in a specific area/habitat and cannot survive when the same is destroyed. Wildlife habitats have suffered to a great extent by destruction of virgin forests by loggers and settlers.
Similarly, marine organisms, coral reefs have all suffered as a result of pollution and over fished. The tropical rain forests are the main stay of diverse variety of biological diversity, and they are being destroyed at a more rapid rate than any other type of wild habitat.
Wetlands are often world’s most productive systems helpful in regulating water flow and eliminating silt, sediments and pollutants from moving waters. These are now being drained and dried for agricultural purpose or human settlement. In Australia, New Zealand, California about 90% wetland systems have been lost. Mangrove and Coral Reef ecosystems are also being severely affected.
Excessive exploitation of economic and valuable species for commercial utility has led to depletion of large number of population of plants, animals and microbes. Exploitation of raw materials of medicinal importance by commercial establishments like drug companies for trading has severely affected the availability of medicinally important plants; this is quite evident in North-East India as this region is store house for medicinal plants like Coptis teeta, Aconitum, Rubia cordifolia, Rauwolfia serpentina, Oroxylum indicum, Piper mullesua, Podophyllum hexandrum, Illicium griffithii, Picrorrhiza kurroa etc. Several important plants like orchids and Rhododendrons are being heavily exploited. Faunal losses to pose a serious concern excessive harvesting of fish, molluscs, sea-cows and turtles has led to near – extinction of these species.
(3) Wildlife Trade:
This involves capture of animals for pets, zoo specimens, and research subjects for their fur, skin, tusk, meat etc. Such capturing of wild animals for commercial application has made many species endangered. For instance, many primates have become extinct due to illegal killing of mothers to capture their babies for zoos and pet dealers. Gorillas, chimpanzees and other primates are killed for their meat, which is sold in African markets.
The primary reason for hunting has been food. Commercially wild animals are hunted for their products like skin, tusk, antlers, fur, meat, perfumes, cosmetics etc. Rhino is hunted for its horns, tiger for skin and bones, elephant for ivory, musk deer for musk. Overhunting has brought numerous species on the verge of extinction, e.g., Caribbean manatee, Asiatic lion, dugong and many species of pheasants. Farmers and ranchers in North America have almost eliminated the red wolf and prairie dogs, whereas herders in Africa have reduced the population of Simian wolf.
(5) Introduction of Exotic Species and Competition among Species:
Introduction of exotic species leads to competition between them and the native species for food and space, and is a major threat to many plants and animals. On many islands, population of native birds, reptiles and mammals declined after the introduction of domestic animals. Similarly, introduction of rabbits and goats in Pacific region has caused destruction of habitats of several plants, birds and reptiles.
Increased population, shifting cultivation, permanent agriculture, mining, hydroelectric etc., cause deforestation, which is occurring at the rate of 17 million hectare per year, i.e., 1 acre per second, which is quite alarming. It is estimated that every day 47,000 hectare of forest are destroyed, over 16,000 hectare of land turned to desert, and between 100 – 300 species become extinct.
According to the report of World Wide Institute, almost half of the forest covers of about 3 billion hectare in the world were lost between 1980 and 1995. The tropical evergreen forests in the world, covering about 7% of the earth’s land surface, contain atleast 50% of the important species found on the earth.
About 48% of world’s plant species occur in forests or near it and so declining of forest cover at such an alarming rate is not a healthy indication for the environment and human kind. Temperate rain forests are also endangered ecosystems. Of the original 31 million forests nearly 18.7 million have already been cleared.
(7) Environmental Pollution:
Air pollution through Greenhouse effect, Ozone depletion layer, change in precipitation rates, acid rain is destroying vegetation and productivity. Most of rivers, fresh water reservoirs are polluted due to release of industrial wastes, sewage, agricultural run-off, and these contaminate not only water but also the soil.
(8) Natural Calamities:
Landslides, floods, droughts, earthquakes, storm and hurricanes, severely affect population of plants, animals and microbes, of both terrestrial and aquatic origin.
(9) Lack of adequate environmental education and effective legislation.
Term Paper # 4. Rate of Extinction:
According to one estimate, 2 – 8% tropical forest species will be lost in between 1990 – 2015. An estimated 23,000 plant species and sub- species and 4452 animal species are threatened globally. In India, 15 – 20% (i.e., over 2500 species) of total vascular flora are threatened. Extinction of tree species can prove disastrous as about 300 species of insects and bird’s species depend on a single tree species.
About 80% of the world’s 1,00,000 tree species are in the tropics, and 10% of all tree species are now threatened. Use of Species-area relations and Endemics- area relationship help indicate about the rate of species extinction in given habitats/patches. Red data book gives the list of threatened plants or animal of any region.
The IUCN has published two volumes of Red Data Book on biodiversity at global level, mentioning these species under different categories/state of extinction processes- vulnerable, endangered, rare, extinct and threatened.
Some endangered biodiversity across the world is given below:
i. North America’s 40% cropland has become a desert.
ii. More than 60% of the pacific North West Coastal forest cut down.
iii. Around 5335 square miles of rain forest destroyed in Brazil every year.
iv. Nearly 71% trees in Czech and Sloval Republic threatened by air pollution.
v. Indonesia’s coral reefs face threat.
vi. Philippines have lost 90% of its Coral Reefs.
vii. Australia’s 23% range and croplands have turned to desert.
viii. India and Sri Lanka have suffered large scale depletion of rain forest.
ix. Congo’s 60% rain forest is slated for clearing.
Term Paper # 5. Conservation of Biodiversity:
Conservation of biodiversity is now a priority for International efforts. The concern for its conservation is manifested in 1972 during UN conference on Human Environment at Stockholm, the UN conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Jenerio in 1992, the World conference on Conservation and Development in 1986 and other Consensus Building Exercise.
There are several steps recommended and methods devised to check the deteriorating state of biodiversity:
(1) Undisturbed sites/land should not be used for urbanization/development as such developmental activities like creating townships and recreation centres, deforestation etc., lead to loss of biodiversity.
(2) Birth rates in developing countries should be checked and sustainable, high yielding agricultural systems be developed so that sustainable utilization and preservation of biodiversity go hand in hand.
(3) Catalogues of genetic resources and natural biological inventories should be prepared so that threatened and endangered species can be protected against extinction. Multi-taxa inventory provides a complete and wider understanding of site, region or global biodiversity.
(4) Over-exploitation of natural resources, emission of harmful gases and wastes should be checked.
(5) In situ and ex situ conservation strategies:
A biotechnological approach through in vitro conservation.
(i) In Situ Conservation:
This refers to – (i) Protection of habitat and ecosystem, (ii) Conservation of plants and animals in their native habitat or even in man-made ecosystems where they naturally occur, e.g., National Parks, Sanctuaries, National Monuments, Nature Reserves, Cultural landscapes, Biosphere Reserves etc.
This approach of conservation highlights protection of ecosystems for conservation of diversity of genes, populations, species, communities and various ecological processes. Networking of protected areas for high conservation strategy is the main stay of in situ conservation.
The indigenous ethos of ‘sacred groves’ and ‘sacred lakes’ set by local inhabitants, in fact, predate the modern concept of protected areas. There are 448 wildlife sanctuaries, 85 National Parks and 10 Biosphere Reserves in India, covering about 4.2% of total geographical area.
The Biosphere Reserve gives a framework for the study and conservation of the environment and for the sustainable use of natural resources. There are 411 such sites in 94 countries. In situ conservation facilitates evolution and ecological balance having indirect benefits such as watershed maintenance, wildlife habitat protection and environmental stabilization.
A drawback associated to in situ conservation is that it is prone to natural calamities such as floods, droughts, diseases and pests. Also, it requires large land space.
(ii) Ex Situ Conservation:
This refers to conservation of samples of genetic diversity away from their field habitats, and done through botanic and zoological gardens, banks of germplasm, seed, pollen, seedlings, gene, DNA, tissue culture, and culture collections. There are 1023 gene banks across the worlds which conserve seed materials.
In India, National Gene Bank was established in 1988 consisting of – (i) Cryo bank, (ii) Seed repository bank, (iii) Tissue culture repository bank. In 1986, the Department of Biotechnology, Govt., of India helped establish National Facility for Plant Tissue Culture Repository (NFPTCR) with the aim to develop suitable in vitro conservation technologies for medium and long-term conservation of micro-propagated agri-horticultural and plantation crops. This centre also aims at cryopreservation of pollens, seeds and in vitro cultures.
This provides stable long-term storage of plant genetic resources using methods of desiccation, slow freezing and vitrification. Several NGOs, Seed Savers Exchange and industries are working in tandem to protect biodiversity. Tissue culture methods help in multiplication of threatened and endangered plant species. Further, techniques like artificial insemination and embryo transfer are being used for multiplication of endangered animal species.
Crop based research centres of Consultative Groups on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) support the ex situ conservation of crop genetic resources. In 1974, an International, research centre exclusively devoted to plant germplasm research was established and named as International Bureau of Plant Germplasm Research; later it was named as International Plant Germplasm Research Institute in 1992.
During 1950s the scientists realised the mass scale replacement of land races by improved cultivars and the need to conserve them. This led to establishment of first National Seed Storage Laboratory of USDA in 1958 at Fort Colins. Subsequently several International Agricultural Research Centres were established and each crop-based centres built germplasm storage facilities.
Ex situ conservation using tissue culture offers huge advantage for conservation of vegetative propagated plants, species with recalcitrant seeds, species with longer vegetative period prior to seed set. This is specially advantageous for species which are either asexually propagated or lack natural seed production mechanism, or cannot be propagated uniformly.
Unlike of in situ conservation, it requires little land space since a large number of cultures can be stored in a small space. For instance, according to one estimate, around 800 cultivars of grapes in six replicates that would require about 1 hectare field space can be maintained in cultures in 2 m2 of laboratory space. Tissue culture also provides a useful method of processing propagules outside the seed harvesting season.
Various tissue culture techniques employed for ex situ conservation of biodiversity include meristem culture, shoot culture, axillary buds, anther and embryo cultures, single cell suspension, protoplast cultures, callus, organ cultures, cryopreservation, synthetic seeds etc. The short – to medium – term storage aimed at delaying the period of subculture without any harmful effect to plant tissue, assist in plant conservation programmes.
(6) Biochemical Markers (Isozymes) and Molecular Markers:
RFLPs and RAPDs help in monitoring of genetic stability in the natural population of plants. Samples characterised on the basis of DNA sequence rather than on phenotype can provide better coverage of existing diversity. The molecular markers techniques assess diversity at genomic level and identify populations or individuals with desirable characters and variations between the taxa, so as to decide the high priority genotype for conservation.
(7) The information technology aimed at distance learning and electronic networking, designed and targeted at plant biodiversity conservation programmes in India will help promote the understanding of the rich germplasm and execute international conservation activities. The computer- based storage and retrieval systems of information on plant genetic resources will improve our knowledge and develop technology packages for conservation, and also ensure exchange of information including databases.
(8) Eco-Tourism/Green Tourism:
Excessive and unabated loss of natural environment has led to a growing awareness of non-consumptive value of these shrinking resources. The concept of ‘eco-tourism’ is one of the examples of current pattern away from resource exploitation for trading. Nature tourism generates huge foreign exchange in countries like Kenya, Nepal and Costa Rica, with total world-wide income in developing countries estimated at US $ 2-12 billion. In India, eco-tourism holds a strong promise and future.
(9) Environmental Education:
By creating awareness (educating) the people about the causes of environmental menace including biodiversity through outreach programmes and environmental education (EE) related events like – (i) Environmental campaigns, (ii) Holding public interactions/meetings; eco-clubs, (iii) Organizing workshops, and (iv) Involving local NGOs.
The environmental campaigns in form of interaction with people both in rural and urban areas can help establish symbiotic partnership between human beings and the environment. EE must become an integral part of all individuals so as to establish environmentally conscious societies.
There is a need of commissioning reviews from a multiplicity of stakeholders and translation of such documents into major Indian languages. Role of media and information technology (Environmental Journalism) through newspaper, Disks/CD-ROMS, electronic and sources of bio-information have a great bearing on biodiversity protection.
During environmental education, emphasis should be given on:
(i) Awareness about environmental deterioration and health risk assessment.
(ii) Increased public participation.
(iii) Village – initiated programmes.
(iv) Improved access to information.
(v) Cultural relationships with biodiversity.
(vi) Distributive justice and decentralization.
(vii) Inclusion of tribals/indigenous people during formulations of strategies.
(viii) Intellectual Property Rights and Patent vis-a-vis biodiversity.
(ix) Environmental biotechnology.
(x) Conservation strategies for sustainable biodiversity.
(xi) Importance and relevance of environmental economics.
All these will lead to better management of biodiversity. A knowledge-based society, focusing creativity and diversity, can enlarge human alternatives. Besides, the networking of science and technology institutions and enterprises of both the private and the public sectors at the national and international levels should be strengthened.
Term Paper # 6. National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP):
The Ministry of Environment and Forests in 1999 prepared a National Policy and Macro-level Action strategy on biodiversity through a consultative process. This dealt with policies, critical gaps and strategies needed for conservation and sustainable utilization of biological diversity.
Detailed action plans at sub-state, state, regional, and national levels are being prepared; this has been made possible through funding from Global Environment Facility (GEF). All these information on action plans at different levels in consolidated form brings out the national level action plan.
The NBSAP project envisages the assessment and stocktaking of biological diversity-related information at various levels. The emphasis under this programme is on gender sensitive decentralized planning. Government agencies, non-governmental groups and village communities are contributing towards conservation of biodiversity.
Term Paper # 7. Intellectual Property Rights and Patents Vis-a-Vis Biodiversity:
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) is a collective term applied to a number of different types of legal right granted by state authority. Ethically, IPR can be justified from the fact that a person has a right to profit from ideas that he or she created and developed. Tribal’s traditional methods/ practices (Indigenous knowledge, IK) play an important role in conserving the biodiversity and forest resources.
IPR facilitates technology transfer and help establish a system that promotes public disclosure of new information. It stems from certain kinds of intellectual efforts and ingenuity. It has been in focus in recent years and biotechnology is responsible for much of this trend.
It has various types:
(ii) Registered Design,
(iii) Trade Mark,
(iv) Plant variety,
(v) Copyright, and
(vi) Trade Secret.
The World Intellectual Property Organization based in Geneva administers the Paris Convention and all subsequent conventions. Following the signing of TRIPS (Trade related aspects of intellectual property rights), countries which were party to the agreement were directed to protect their plant varieties by means of patent legislation. The first major study of international patent protection for biotechnology was published in 1985 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Before a patent is granted, following specific conditions are to be satisfied – (i) The invention must be new and should have utility, (ii) It must be inventive, and (iii) It must be disclosed in a way which enables a person of normal skill to reproduce it.
Processes, products, compositions and the new uses – all can be patented in biosciences. Protected from competition, the patent allows the inventor to exploit the invention commercially. The society benefits by such exploitation through better products and after the expiry of the patent (which is normally 20 years from the date of application), the technology becomes freely available to the society.
Plant varieties are protected through Plant Breeder’s Rights (PBR) or Plant Variety Rights (PVR). Farmer’s Rights is a concept developed and adopted in FAO. Rural Advancement Fund International ‘Farmer Rights (RAFI) in 1989 suggested that a tax should be payable on commercial biological material derived from developing countries, but used in developed countries.
Patenting plays important role in biotechnological research. Biotechnology deals with living organisms and innovations are related to creation of new varieties and breeds of plants, animals or microorganisms by new methods of genetic engineering. Several milestones have been achieved till date that have brought better understanding and clarity in patenting in biotechnology, e.g., in 1977, the Budapest Convention agreed on deposition of microorganisms in lieu of their description for patenting purposes.
In 1987, the first patent for a higher category of animal was granted for the ‘oncomouse’. In order to ensure benefit to the nation in commercial utilization of biodiversity, patenting related to it by indigenous research must be encouraged. Today, the Department of Biotechnology, Govt., of India facilitates patenting of biotechnology research findings through screening the applications and also bearing their cost of patenting.