What is the news ?

  • Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Minister recently released Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of 146 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the country.
  • It was also announced that from the year 2021 onwards, 10 best national parks, five coastal and marine parks and top five zoos in the country will be ranked and awarded every year.
  • Moreover according to the survey, Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuary and Great Himalayan National Park in Himachal Pradesh have performed the best among the surveyed protected areas.
  • The Turtle Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh was the worst performer in the survey.

Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of Protected Area:

  • MEE of Protected Areas has emerged as a key tool that is increasingly being used by governments and international bodies to understand strengths and weaknesses of the protected area management systems.
    • The assessment process of India’s National Park and Wildlife Sanctuaries adopted from IUCN WCPA (World Commission on Protected Areas) framework of MEE.
  • MEE is defined as the assessment of how well NP&WLS are being managed—primarily, whether they are protecting their values and achieving the goals and objectives agreed upon.
    • The ratings are assigned in four categories, as Poor – upto 40%; Fair - 41 to 59%; Good - 60 to 74%; Very Good – 75% and above.
  • A new framework for MEE of Marine Protected Areas has also been jointly prepared by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and MoEF&CC.
  • The MoEF&CC has also launched the Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Indian Zoos (MEE-ZOO) framework which proposes guidelines, criteria and indicators for evaluation of zoos of the country in a manner which is discrete, holistic and independent.

Protected Areas:

  • India has a network of 903 Protected Areas covering about 5% of its total geographic area.
  • India has systematically designated its Protected Areas in four legal categories — National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Key Findings:

  • Overall Performance: The results of the present assessment are encouraging with an overall mean MEE score of 62.01% which is higher than the global mean of 56%.
  • Regional Performance: The eastern region of India presents the highest overall mean MEE Score of 66.12% and the Northern region represents the lowest mean MEE Score of 56%.
  • Best NP&WLS: Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuary and Great Himalayan National Park (GNHP) in Himachal Pradesh have performed the best among the surveyed protected areas (Total -146).
  • Worst NP&WLS: The Turtle Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh was the worst performer in the survey.

Categories of Protected Areas in India :

  • Sanctuary: It is an area which is of adequate ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological, natural or zoological significance. The Sanctuary is declared for the purpose of protecting, propagating or developing wildlife or its environment. Certain rights of people living inside the Sanctuary could be permitted.
  • National Park: It is declared for the purpose of protecting, propagating or developing wildlife or its environment, like that of a Sanctuary. The difference between a Sanctuary and a National Park mainly lies in the vesting of rights of people living inside.
    • Unlike a Sanctuary, where certain rights can be allowed, in a National Park, no rights are allowed.
    • No grazing of any livestock shall also be permitted inside a National Park while in a Sanctuary, the Chief Wildlife Warden may regulate, control or prohibit it.
  • Conservation Reserves: These can be declared by the State Governments in any area owned by the Government, particularly the areas adjacent to National Parks and Sanctuaries and those areas which link one Protected Area with another. Such declarations should be made after having consultations with the local communities.
    • These are declared for the purpose of protecting landscapes, seascapes, flora and fauna and their habitat. The rights of people living inside a Conservation Reserve are not affected.
  • Community Reserves: These can be declared by the State Government in any private or community land, not comprised within a National Park, Sanctuary or a Conservation Reserve, where an individual or a community has volunteered to conserve wildlife and its habitat. As in the case of a Conservation Reserve, the rights of people living inside a Community Reserve are not affected.