Another year comes to an end in the shadow of Covid fear, but there has been a difference. While 2019 (when the virus was first detected) and 2020 (when corona virus and its variants brought the world to a wailing halt) saw a silver lining in the form of reviving biodiversity and recovering environment, 2021 was all about man's bid to bounce back economically. Not to mention, the cost was the just improving biosphere! From big time poaching to increased deforestation, pandemic aftereffects hit nature hard. At a time when "nature is healing” became a popular belief, a surge in environmentally hazardous and degrading development projects, mainly by developing countries like India, set the advantages at a backfoot. Never previously has such an ignorant and apathetical approach been applied to nature and its conservation. Environmentalists’ outcries mainly fell on deaf ears and even the apex court backed some of such projects like Char Dham on national security grounds. However, whether actually their need is so desperate is a matter of scientific debate. But the pace of damage has been set, and no eloquent speeches at international climate summits can mask the fact. It is shocking how the Centre and state governments keep talking about nature and environment preservation, but going out of the way to damage both. Do they think if lies are spoken oft enough, they may be taken for truths? Not everyone is that gullible, Sir!
Here a matter of deep concern is how easily every project is being passed under greenfield technology. Now understand how that makes it a nature killer. A greenfield project is one which is not constrained by prior work. It is constructing on unused land where there is no need to remodel or demolish an existing structure. Greenfield sites include greenbelt land, a buffer between towns or town and countryside, which is a concern to environmentalists. . This type of land is appealing to property developers as it is fresh and undeveloped, providing planning permission can be granted to change the current usage. Developing previously untouched countryside results in 'urban sprawl' which encourages commuting and traffic congestion as people travel in for work and leisure. Brownfield sites are usually located in urban areas and have been previously used for industrial or commercial purposes. Redeveloping a Brownfield site not only boosts the economy by creating jobs and lifting property prices, but it improves the environment and creates a safer, healthier space. Bringing a Brownfield site back into use prevents ‘urban sprawl’ thereby reducing traffic.
Satellite imagery has also revealed a surge in deforestation. In October, the World Bank estimated that the global recession caused by the pandemic may cause up to 150 million more persons – almost 2 per cent of the world’s population – to fall into extreme poverty. Historically, prolonged poverty shock has been linked to increases in deforestation and biodiversity loss as products such as fodder, fuel, timber and bushmeat become more necessary both for subsistence and for a source of income. At the same time, rising urban unemployment is causing many people in lower-income countries to return to their rural roots, swelling populations in sensitive areas. A review published in August 2020 found that, in countries such as South Africa and India, rhinoceros and elephant poaching syndicates have expanded operations into areas where there are normally too many wildlife-viewing tourists for them to operate undetected. The study’s authors noted that the sudden absence of tourists effectively widens the territory and stock of animals available to poachers. So, now you know how things have been so far. Can we expect any improvement in the year to come?