Biological Diversity Act, 2002

8th September 2018 By Sarla Publications


Himachal Pradesh State Biodiversity Board has been constituted by the Govt. of Himachal Pradesh vide notification no. STE-A(3)-1/2004 dated 14-2-2005 in the State Council for Science Technology and Environment under section 22 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 for conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of biological resources, knowledge and for matters connected herewith and incidental thereto in the state.


1. Advise the State Govt. subject to any guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, GOI, New Delhi on matters relating to the conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of its components and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of utilization of biological resources.
2. Regulate, by granting of approvals or otherwise, requests for commercial utilization of bio survey and bio-utilization of any biological resources by Indians.
3. Perform such other functions as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 or as may be prescribed by the State Govt.


Ministry of Environment and Forest, Govt. of India, New Delhi has enacted the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and Biological Diversity Rules, 2004 for the conservation and sustainable use of the biological resource on equity basis and regulation and management of biodiversity in the Country. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 envisages the formulation of various bodies for the regulation and management of biodiversity at three levels as follows:
i) National Biodiversity Authority at National Level.
ii) State Biodiversity Board at the State Level.
ii) Biodiversity Management Committees at every (local body) Panchayat level in the State.
Salient Features of Biological Diversity Act, 2002
-- To regulate access to biological resources of the country with the purpose of securing equitable share in benefits arising out of the use of biological resources and associated knowledge relating to biological resources.
-- To conserve and sustainably use biological diversity.
-- To respect and protect knowledge of local communities related to biodiversity.
-- To secure sharing of benefits with local people as conservers to biological resources and holders of knowledge and information relating to the use of biological resources.
-- To conserve and develop areas of importance from the standpoint of biological diversity by declaring them as biological diversity heritage sites.
-- To protect and rehabilitate threatened species.
-- Involvement of institutions of the State Government in the broad scheme of the implementation of the Biological Diversity Act through a constitution of committees.

The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 lay provisions for penalties along with imprisonment for any cognizable offence committed under the Act, as follows:
-- Whoever contravenes or attempts to contravene or abets the contravention of the provisions of section 3 or section 4 or section 6 shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years, or with a fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees. And where the damage caused exceeds ten lakh rupees, such a fine may commensurate with the damage caused or with both.
-- Whoever contravenes or attempts or abets the contravention of the provisions of section 7 or any order made under sub-section (2) of section 24 shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which extend to three years, or with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees, or with both.
-- If any person contravenes any direction given or order made by the Central Government, the State Government, the National Biodiversity Authority or the State Biodiversity Board— for which no punishment has been separately provided under this Act—he shall be punished with a fine which may extend to one lakh rupees and in case of a second or subsequent offence, with a fine which may extend to two lakh rupees and in the case of continuous contravention with additional fine, which may extend to two lakh rupees everyday during which the default continues.


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Himachal Pradesh is a hilly state and harbours one of the richest diversity of mountain landscapes with altitudes ranging from 350 MSL at boundary along the Punjab plains to 6816 MSL at Reo-Purgial in the Zanskar range in Kinnaur.

Important mountain ranges in the State include the Shivaliks, Dhauladhar, Pirpanjal, Great Himalaya and the Zanskar. Separated by valleys, glens and hills, there are distinct physiographic zones which run almost parallel throughout the length of the State from west to east. The state can be divided into three main topographic regions, that is, (i) the Shiwaliks, (ii) the Lesser Himalayas and (iii) the Great Himalayas.

The climate of Himachal Pradesh varies from semi-tropical to semi-arctic, from place to place, depending upon the altitude of the region. Varied physiographic and climatic factors have given rise to diverse natural ecosystem, namely, forests, grasslands and pastures, rivers, lakes and wetlands, glaciers, and so on, which are the storehouses of rich biodiversity.


Biodiversity or biological diversity is the variability within and between all micro-organisms, plants and animals— both wild and domesticated— and the ecological systems in which they co-exist. It is a great wealth of the planet. It starts with genes and manifests itself as organisms, species, populations and communities, which lead to the formation of ecosystems, landscape and ultimately the biosphere. Biodiversity manifests at three levels:

-- Species diversity, that is, diversity among species in an ecosystem.

-- Genetic diversity, that is, diversity of genes within a species. There is genetic variability among the populations and the individuals of the same species.

-- Ecosystem diversity, that is, diversity at higher level of organisation, the ecosystem.


Biodiversity has direct consumptive value in food, agriculture, medicine and industry. Approximately 80,000 plants have been used at one time or the other in human history. Of this, only 150 have been cultivated on a large scale. Today, 10 to 20 species provide 80–90 per cent of food requirements of the world. At one time, nearly all medicines were derived from the biological resources. Even today, 67–70 per cent of modern medicines are derived from natural products. In addition to food and medicines, medicinal plants fall under the category of endangered species presently, as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) criteria in the state.


Biodiversity has contributed in many ways to the development of human culture, and, in turn, human communities have played a major role in shaping the diversity of nature at various levels—genetic, species and ecological. Man's relation with biodiversity is as old as the evolution of man itself. He has been dependent upon the biodiversity for fulfilment of the needs of his entire livelihood. The people of Himachal Pradesh, a predominantly rural and agrarian State, have very strong linkages with biodiversity. The cereals, millets, pulses, vegetables and fruits are all plant based. The natural forests in the area provide wood for building of houses, furniture, bridges, agricultural implements, stakes for agricultural crops, in addition to providing much-needed fuel wood. Fibre is also extracted from many plants. The State is home to many wild relatives of domesticated plants, and this wild biodiversity provides us with many other products without which life would be difficult. Wood, fuel, fodder, clothing and shelter, material for industries are some of the examples.

Biodiversity also has aesthetic and recreational values. It maintains ecological balance and continues the evolutionary process. The indirect ecosystem services provided through biodiversity are photosynthesis, pollination, transpiration, chemical cycling, nutrient cycling, soil maintenance, climate regulation, air, water system management, waste treatment and pest control. Conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity are therefore, fundamental to ecological sustainable development. In fact, mankind’s survival depends on biological diversity, that is, plants, animals and microbes.


The mountainous state of Himachal Pradesh is bestowed with distinctive floral and faunal biodiversity having aesthetic, cultural, commercial and genetic value. Its repository of flora and fauna has an extraordinarily wide variety at the intra and inter-species levels. These variable treasures of biological resources result from its varied topography, geological formations, altitudinal ranges and climatic conditions. The range of biodiversity elements represented in the state varies from the subtropical regions to the temperate, dry temperate and alpine regions. 95 per cent of the floral and faunal species available in the state are endemic, and five per cent of the other existing species are of exotic nature.


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The state boasts of immense faunal diversity, which is unique to the region. Out of 89,451 species of animals in India, 5,721 species are housed here. This is a big number, considering the small geographical area of Himachal Pradesh, which is only 1.7 per cent of the country. Its diverse fauna includes 649 chordates (77 mammals, 447 birds, 44 amphibians and 83 fishes), 4,543 arthropods (2 bryozoa, 4362 insects, 195 arachnids, 73 myriopods and 73 crustaceans) and 412 others (60 annelids, 73 molluscs, 2 acanthocephala, 132 nematodes, 16 rotifers, 90 platyhelminthes, 2 cnidaria, 3 porifera and 34 protozoans). FLORAL DIVERSITY

Among the pheasants, there are Kalij in the foothills, Koklas and Monal in the temperate and mid-level forests, and the snow cock in the alpine areas. The Western Tragopan, a rare and endangered species, is confined only to the Western Himalayas, Himachal Pradesh also has probably the largest population of Chir pheasants in the world.

Mammals include the Himalayan and long-tailed marmots, Himalayan squirrels and voles. Among herbivores are the ibex, serow, blue sheep, tahr, musk deer, ghoral and the barking deer. A large variety of rare carnivores, including the black bear, Himalayan weasel, yellow-throated martin, stone martin and wolf are also found here. The common leopard and snow leopard are representatives of the larger cats.


Floral biodiversity in the state is described under forest vegetation, medicinal and aromatic plants, diversity in agricultural crops including unexploited and lesser-known cereal crops, wild fruit and wild ornamental plants. Out of the total of 47,000 plant species found in the country, as many as 3,295 species are reported from Himachal Pradesh. The floral wealth of the State consists of higher plants, ferns, mosses, fungi and lichens. There are 3120 species of angiosperms, 13 species of gymnosperms and 124 pteridophytes and 38 species of orchids.

The vegetation is a blend of ban oak forests, moist temperate deciduous forests, Himalayan alpine forests, pastures and rhododendron scrub forests. Blue pines grow on the lower ranges, while the higher altitudes have firs and spruce. Coniferous forests dominate the mid and high hills with oaks in the depressions. In the foothills, the forests are dry deciduous with sal as the predominant species. In dry localities, Chir pines occur as the dominant species.

The State is rich in medicinal herbs and people in the villages in some pockets are dependent on these medicinal herbs for their livelihood. They regularly cultivate and extract plants of medicinal and aromatic utility from the forest and alpine pastures. Nearly 60 species of highly sought after germplasm from this region are used for the development of high-yielding and disease-resistant domesticated crops. People also raise livestock for agricultural purposes and to fulfil their daily needs of milk, meat, wool and hide. A large proportion of this livestock feeds on the grasses and leaves of trees obtained from both the wild and domesticated habitats. The leaf litter collected from the forests is used as bedding for the cattle and then applied to the agricultural fields as manure.

Many people of the state draw raw material from wild plant resources to make baskets, ropes, mats, leaf plates, artefacts, and so on, to generate income. Collection and sale of medicinal plants from the wild is another source of income for the rural people. Wild mushrooms and guchhi (Morchella sps) are the sources of alternate income for the rural people, which are collected from the local forests during the fruiting season.

No religious ceremony in the State is complete without the use of plants. Many plants including dhoop and juniper are used as incense in religious ceremonies and many others, such as bael (wood apple) and tulsi (basil) are used as offerings for the deities. Whereas bargad (banyan) forms the tree of choice in religious groves in the lower belts, it is the deodar that forms the main species in sacred groves in the higher hills. Gates bedecked with fresh leaves of local keystone species are put up to welcome guests. Such is the relevance of biodiversity to the people of the State that the deodar has been adopted as the state tree, while the rhododendron is the state flower, and the snow leopard is the state animal.


The biodiversity of Himachal Pradesh is threatened by biotic factors in the absence of strategic action plans for conservation of biological resources. Many species have critically low population, which is further affected by catastrophes or overexploitation leading to the elimination of various species. Due to development activities, many species of flora and fauna are under serious threat. The percentage of threatened species in the fragile mountainous region has been observed to be comparatively much higher in the state because of the dependence of the local people on biological resources for livelihood in the state. Survival of many valuable species of animals and birds, medicinal herbs, aquatic and domesticated floral and faunal species is threatened because of the continuous and unscientific extraction of plants, and also because of poaching. The situation is fast deteriorating due to indiscriminate use of chemicals as fertilisers and spraying of of highly toxic insecticides/ fungicides/pesticides/weedicides in agriculture and horticulture fields, which is spoiling the soil strata as well as microbial biodiversity of the soil in the state. Introduction of exotic species is posing a threat to the survival of the local species in the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems of the state. Incidences of forest fires are causing irreparable loss to biodiversity. Some of the floral and faunal species that are ffast becoming endangered are as follows:


Butterflies: Freak, scarce siren, golden emperor, broad-banded sailor, banded apollo, Ladakh banded apollo, pale jezebel

Reptiles: Common Indian monitor, yellow monitor, Indian rock python

Birds: Chir pheasant, monal pheasants, mountain quail, snow cock, tragopan, Himalayan bearded vulture,

Himalayan golden eagle, lagger falcon

Animals: Himalayan brown bear, snow leopard, Himalayan lynx, Kashmir stag, Himalayan ibex, Himalayan

tahr, and so on.


Atis, chora, singli-mingli, somlata, kaur, karu, banhaldi, patrala, dhoop, bankakri, chukhri, kuth, talispatra, mushakbala, pushkarmool, ratanjot, salampanja, jeevak, rishbhak, mahameda, ravandchini, chiraita, rasna, rakha.


-- There is lack of information and awareness among the stakeholders about the importance of biodiversity, both wild and domesticated (existing vegetation and cultivated crops including pseudo-cereals) medicinal/aromatic herbs/plants and traditional knowledge of plant uses.

-- Unscientific methods are used to harvest medicinal and aromatic plants and there is poor control on contractors for collection of medicinal herbs

-- Lack of knowledge about the importance of sustainable minor forest produce, non-timber forest products (NTFP) development and related research.

-- Lack of adequate funds, facilities, trained manpower, long-term research plans and appropriate extension facilities

-- Poor coordination amongst development-plan execution bodies, local communities, and research and academic institutions, is adversely affecting biodiversity conservation initiatives.

-- Transformation from the joint family system to the nuclear family system leads to erosion of traditional knowledge base.

-- Human–wildlife conflicts

-- Use of subsidised chemicals in the form of fertilisers, pesticides, fungicides, insecticides , and so on, in agricultural landscapes is causing harm to soil strata and posing a threat to micro-diversity.

-- Inadequate efforts to biodiversity enterprise-based enhancement for improvement of quality of life of local communities.

-- Due to extreme and prolonged winter, heavy demand for fuel wood takes a toll on existing vegetation, shrubs and perennial species along with their roots.

-- High rate of solid erosion due to wind and water in cold deserts, flash floods in rivers in Kinnaur and Lahaul lead to biodiversity loss in the area.

-- Transformation from diversified animal-crop system to a system of non-culture of apple/pea/potatoes and keeping just Jersey cows as compared to a variety of traditional livestock assemblage leads to unrecoverable erosion of local genetic breeds and cultural diversity.

-- Excessive grazing by domesticated and migratory animals during spring and summer also causes a great loss to biodiversity in the area.

-- Hunting is still prevalent in the state in spite of the ban imposed by the Govt.

-- Traditional animal husbandry and traditional crops cultivation is decreasing in the area.

-- Destruction of habitat due to the construction of large hydroelectric dams, roads, buildings, and industries is leading to excessive landslides causing a great threat to biodiversity.

-- Lack of understanding of traditional farming practices leads to erosion of agro-biodiversity in all agro-climatic zones.

-- Lack of policies for compensation for loss of agro-diversity due to development activities viz. roads, dams, industries, and so on.

-- Exotic weeds, namely Lantana camera, Ageratum, Eupatorium and Parthenium are spreading rapidly in both agriculture and Govt. lands.

-- Danger to aquatic biodiversity is posed due to developmental activities, introduction of numerous exotic fishing practices and use of chemicals.

-- Inadequate documentation of indigenous knowledge and local traditions related to conservation of biodiversity.

-- Inadequate information on microbial diversity and limited knowledge of beneficial microbes.

-- Loss of local animal genetic resources due to low productivity of the local breeds, leads to replacement of local strains.

-- Inadequate information, co-ordination and adoption of appropriate technologies for propagation and conservation of health-related bioresources


-- Biodiversity strategy and action plan have been formulated for conservation of biodiversity of the State and Sub-State Site (Lahaul, Spiti and Kinnaur districts).

-- Himachal Pradesh State Biodiversity Board has been constituted for conservation and regulation of biological resources in the State.

-- Draft rules have been framed for the State Biodiversity Board.

-- Bibliography of Biodiversity of North-Western Himalayas with focus on Himachal Pradesh has been prepared.

-- Literature has been prepared to spread awareness on biodiversity for the stakeholders.

-- Draft of policy guidelines for conservation of biodiversity in the State has been prepared.

-- Steps have been taken to prepare People Biodiversity Registers in five Panchayats on a pilot basis in the State.

-- Information on various facets of biodiversity is being collected and collated for formulation of a database of biodiversity.

-- Conversation of pine needles biomass into briquettes and its use as fuel in the rural areas is being promoted.

-- Income generation in the State is being encouraged through organisation of awareness-cum-demonstration trainings to the farmers/farmwomen, NGOs, panchayati raj institutions (PRIs), self-help groups, Mahila Mandals and families under the integrated rural development programmes (IRDP).

-- Awareness regarding the implementation of Biological Diversity Act, 2002 amongst the stakeholders of biodiversity is being carried out.

-- Environment-friendly farm practices are being popularised through demonstration trainings in the State.

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