Itanagar: Climate change is one of the greatest threats to earth ecosystems and global security. It knows no borders and it presents an existential challenge to us all, Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein said here on Thursday.
“We need some kind of urgency in mitigating the climate change impacts on our ecosystems and food security,” Mein said in his address at a seminar, attended by environmental & climate change experts, legislators, government officers and students.
The seminar themed ‘Climate Change & Sustainable Future – The Arunachal Perspective’ was organized at Dorjee Khandu Auditorium, State Legislative Assembly here as part of the ongoing Golden Jubilee celebration of naming of Arunachal Pradesh.
He said that Arunachal Pradesh with its mountainous terrain, dense jungles and huge rivers is one of 12 biodiversity hot spots and perhaps richest in India with more than 5,000 species of flowering plants, over 500 varieties of orchids, 500-plus species of fauna, about 85 terrestrial mammals and more than 650 bird species.
Besides, it shelters four major cats – tiger, leopard, clouded leopard and snow leopard. He added slight variation in the climatic condition coupled with extreme weather due to climate change might impose challenge to the state’s rich biological as well as cultural diversity, sustainability of social and economic development and the livelihood environment in the state.
Quoting the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021, he informed that Arunachal Pradesh has witnessed a loss of 257 sq km of forest cover compared to the 2019 assessment with the total forest coverage of 66,430.67 sq km (79.33% of the total geographical area). He cited the main reasons for the negative change in forest cover as diversion of forest land for developmental purposes and also natural impact like landslide, flood, etc.
He also said that the impact of climate change is already visible in Arunachal Pradesh, the five rivers of Arunachal Pradesh, i.e., Siang, Lohit, Tirap, Subansiri and Kameng losses its original green emerald colours and has now diminished due to increase in turbidity. He was worried about the steady drying up of streams and diminishing fresh water fish due to rampant ‘illegal’ fishing by means of electric shock using generator, blasting, etc and called for “complete” ban of the practice across the State.
The Deputy Chief Minister also called for a blanket ban on hunting of wild animals and plucking of edible plants and forest vegetation for commercial purposes. On the other hand, he called upon the experts and the think-tank to come up with the proposal of alternate source of livelihood for those living in the vicinity of the wildlife areas and the animal corridors, citing that they depend on the forest vegetation for their livelihood.
“They need to be given alternate source of livelihood so that the natural habitations of the wildlife are not disturbed”, he said.
Mein made a clarion call to the people of the state by saying, “We, being tribals, living with nature is part of culture and traditions. For centuries tribals and nature are living and nurturing each other. If we study our folklores and folksongs, we can find how our ancestors preserved and nurtured the Mother Nature. Now, time has come, we must adopt our own traditions for co-existing with the nature so that our future generations also get the same enrichment which our ancestors left for us.”
On the day, the Dy CM also inaugurated a Photo Exhibition titled ‘Revisiting our roots through the lens of Verrier Elwin’ along with Speaker Pasang Dorjee Sona at the State Assembly premises which will continue till February 19.