Biodiversity Management Committees- Another Body that Failed
The Biological Diversity Act 2002 mandates all local bodies to setup Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC).
As per the guideline given on NBA;
“The BMC will be constituted by the local body with members of the Participatory forest/natural resources management committees members, including from members of horticulture/vaids/foot botanists/tribal heads., etc., based on the local conditions. The SBB should issue suggestive list of persons to be included in the BMC. The representation may be flexible to meet the local requirements.”
The BMC are constituted comprising of One Chairperson, Six Members: 1/3rd of nominated should be women, SC/ST reservation as per state demography.
The functions of the BMC are-
|Preservation of local biodiversity||Conservation and sustainable utilization of biological resources||Management and conservation of Heritage Sites||Regulation of access to the biological resources and/ or associated TraditionalKnowledge, for commercial and research purposes||Biodiversity Education and Awareness building|
|Sustainable Use and Benefit Sharing.||Protection of Traditional Knowledge recorded||Conservation of traditional varieties/breeds of economically important plants/animals||Prepare People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR)||Sharing of benefits arising out of commercial use of bio‐resources|
The BMC has failed to live up to its aspirations and even the legal status of PBR register has been questioned. The PBR Register was prescribed under the Biodiversity Act and contains “comprehensive information on availability and knowledge of local biological resources, their medicinal or any other use or any other traditional knowledge associated with them.”
The registers serve as a useful tool in providing baseline data that maybe utilised for sustainable management programs for conservation and management of biodiversity and resources accruing from its sustainable use.
In some states, Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) refused to form BMCs out of fear that constitution of BMC would lead to undermining their authority over minor forest produce. State Forest departments, Forest traders & mining lobby also don’t cooperate with BMC for the same reason.
UNDP and UNEP have on their part allotted separate funding for BMCs but the money is not being utilized thanks to India’s red tape.
The BMCs have been reduced to the status of an ornament and are function simply as data gathering agencies and what could have been a body that could galvanize sustainable movement at local grass root level in India, has become another failed experiment.