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Biodiversity Act is comprised of rules and systems to protect diverse biodiversity of India. Continue reading to find out more about Biodiversity act.

Biodiversity Act comprises systems that govern access and benefit-sharing through the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), the Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC), and State Biodiversity Boards (SSB) at various levels like panchayats, municipalities, and corporations.

What is Biodiversity?

Various living organisms on the Earth including marine, terrestrial and aquatic, together form biodiversity. A wide range of animals, microorganisms, and plants are a part of it. Biodiversity forms several ecosystems that are crucial to humans and the environment.

Interference of humans in the natural habitats of various living beings is causing a threat to biodiversity.

What is Biodiversity?

Importance of Biodiversity

Several ecosystems and organisms depend on each other for food, oxygen, and habitat. Biodiversity takes care of the environment in several ways like:

  • Formation of soil.
  • Protection of soil. For example, earthworms provide drainage and average to the soil.
  • Maintaining the river ecosystem and the protection of water resources.
  • Recycling and maintaining nutrient storage.
  • Helping on climate stability.
  • Maintaining several ecosystems.
  • Crop byproducts not only provide food to cattle but also nourish the soil after decomposing.
  • Rich biodiversity includes plants of medicinal and ornamental. Trees are also a good source of wood and food.
  • Biodiversity also provides some social benefits like recreation and tourism.

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Biological Diversity ACT 2002

This Biodiversity act was provided for the conservation of biological diversity in India. The sustainable use of components with fair and equitable sharing of the benefits gained through biological resources can save the rich biodiversity to a greater extent.

Regulation of access to biological diversity states that without the approval of the National Biodiversity Authority, no person can undertake Biodiversity related activities. Before obtaining any biological resource occurring in India or using the information for research or any commercial utilization require approval from the National Biodiversity Authority in advance.

A person seeking approval from the National Biodiversity Authority must fulfill certain conditions. If the person is not a citizen of India or is a non-resident (clause (30) of section 2 of the Income-tax Act,1961) or a body corporate is required to take the approval of the National Biodiversity Authority.

If any research is being conducted, the results cannot be transferred (to people mentioned above) without the approval of the National Biodiversity Authority. However, for collaborative projects, there are different provisions.

Any collaborative research project involving biodiversity knowledge shall conform to the policy guidelines issued by the Central Government in this regard. The project shall be approved by the Central Government too.

Intellectual Property Rights in Biodiversity Act

Application for intellectual property rights shall not be made without the approval of the National Biodiversity Authority i.e. any person applying for any intellectual property right, in or outside India for any invention based on information on a biological resource of India requires a previous approval.

The National Biodiversity Authority may impose benefit sharing fees or royalty or both in some cases while approving for intellectual property rights. It can also impose conditions like the sharing of financial benefits obtained from the commercial utilization of such rights.

Such provisions do not apply to applications for rights under any law related to the protection of plant varieties enacted by the Parliament. For such rights, a copy of the related documents shall be endorsed to the National Biodiversity Authority.

The next provision states that any citizen of India including a body corporate, association, or organization registered in India shall not obtain any biological resource for commercial utilization including bio-survey and bio-utilization for commercial utilization. However, they can give prior intimation to the State Biodiversity Board for approval.

Such provisions do not apply to local people and communities. Also, the hakims or vaids, who have been practicing indigenous are free of such provisions.

National Biodiversity Authority

The National Biodiversity Authority having head office at Chennai consists of a chairperson, ex officio members,  and non-official members.

To accomplish the objectives of the Biodiversity Act, the chairperson shall have adequate knowledge and experience of conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. A chairperson appointed by the Central Government must understand the matters relating to the equitable sharing of benefits.

One out of the three ex officio members appointed by the Central Government represents the Ministry that deals with Tribal Affairs. Another two members represent the Ministry to deal with Environment and Forests. There will be an Additional Director General of Forests for them.

Another seven ex officio are also appointed by the Central Government. They represent ministries dealing with Agricultural research and education, Biotechnology, Ocean development, Agriculture and Corporation, Indian Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy, Science and Technology, Scientific and Industrial Research.

Five non-official members chosen from the specialists and scientists shall have expertise in the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of biological resources. They must be aware of the equitable sharing of benefits gained from biological resources, conservers, creators, representatives of the industry, and knowledge holders of biological resources.

What are the functions and power of the National Biodiversity Authority

According to the Biodiversity Act, 2002, the National Biodiversity Authority should regulate activities referred to in various sections of the Act. Guidelines can be issued for access to biological resources with fair and equitable benefit sharing.

The National Biodiversity Authority may also advise the Central Government on issues related to the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of its components.

It can perform functions necessary to carry out the provisions of the  Biodiversity Act. The Authority can take measures to oppose the grant of intellectual property rights in another country on a biological resource obtained from India.

For the settlement of any dispute between the National Biodiversity Authority and State Biodiversity Board, there is a procedure. The board or authority may prefer an appeal to the Central Government.

The Biodiversity Act has to be in effect in addition to other Acts. Moreover, the Central Government may give directions to the State Government and the State Government can also make rules to fulfill the purposes of the Biodiversity Act.

India has rich and diversified biological resources. It is important to take care of these resources for a healthy environment. Strict implementation of Biodiversity Act can minimize the exploitation of biological resources and ensure sustainable development.