ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Biodiversity Management Committees

Lost in Numbers

The Biological Diversity Act was passed in 2002 and the rules to implement it came out in 2004. The main focus of implementation in the past decade has been to persuade local governments to set up biodiversity management committees, which are to compile people's biodiversity registers. The success of state biodiversity boards is measured in terms of the number of committees set up. In addition, the prospect of fi nancial gains is driving the law's implementation. The need for what a genuine dialogue on what a people-centred, biodiversity-sensitive, location-specific development model would look like has been lost sight of.

In 2004, India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) officially gazetted the implementing rules for the Biological Diversity (BD) Act, 2002. It is under the BD Act that the idea of biodiversity management committees (BMCs) was introduced to the country, and the BD rules elaborated on their functions. BMCs are envisaged as the third rung of decision-making on who will access, use, and/or conserve biological diversity in the local area under their jurisdiction. The law required that every local government body in the country set up seven-member committees as BMCs. Supporters of the law saw immense potential for decentralised governance by local communities who could exercise control over biodiverse ecosystems, both cultivated and wild, and their constituent parts. Critics saw it as over-regulation, and a severe undermining of the real custodians of biodiversity at the least, and a sell out to bio-based trade at its worst (Kohli 2006; Kohli et al 2009).

Saying ‘No’ to BMCs

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