- In the intro briefly describe what you understand by the mountain ecosystem and how India is endowed with it across the country from the Himalayas to the Western Ghats in the south.
- In the body, suggest various measures to restore and safeguard this fragile ecosystem. The various suggestions could include- declaring the region ecologically sensitive thereby protecting further damage, adopting ecotourism model in which pressure on the natural resources would be the least, restricting the number of tourists visiting the area, and awareness campaign.
- Conclude by stressing the need for restoration and preservation by pointing to the fact that damage to the mountain ecosystem could entail a heavy cost in the form of a disaster like the one experienced in Kerala.
The mountains are one of the most sensitive as well as an important part of our environmental ecosystems. The mountains, due to its source to rivers can impact people even living far from it. In recent years due to rapid development, the ecosystem is undergoing existential threats.
Being ecologically fragile, the region calls for special kinds of safeguards in order to preserve their sensitive character at a time of want of rapid development, and the need to face threats of climate change and imminent environmental damage.
Major Threats to Mountainous ecosystems
- Climate Change: It is a well-accepted fact that climate change is the main factor contributing to the accelerated glacier retreat observed in the mountainous regions.
- Encroachment: The increasing population pressure and intensified greed of human beings push them to usurp the forests, mountain regions, and even ecological sensitive areas.
- Infrastructure Development: The competition to develop the economy, increasing urbanization, attaining energy security, connecting remote areas intrudes massively in the natural ecosystem of the Himalayan region.
- Waste Disposal: Human populations, their habitat, discharge from the industries in mountainous regions give rise to unimaginable non-biodegradable wastes and toxins.
Measures to restore mountain ecosystem from the negative impact of development and tourism
- Declaring Ecologically Sensitive regions: Kasturirangan report has suggested that the majority of the Western Ghats region be declared as an ecologically sensitive region so as to save it from the damage of developmental activities.
- Ecotourism: Making tourism sustainable by adopting an ecotourism model where pressure on natural resources would be the least. Promoting local stays instead of constructing resorts and hotels in sensitive regions. Eg. Odisha’s Mangalajodi model.
- Citizen participation: In order to make a rapid reversal of exploitation of the ecosystem, there is a need for the citizens to come together. Citizens can ensure that ample care is taken to implement government decisions on protecting the ecosystem. Ex: Social groups taking out marches to create awareness about the waste disposal system.
- Suitable industries: Industries that cause the least damage to the natural environment can be promoted here. For example, the service sector instead of the manufacturing sector. The Northeast BPO promotion scheme seeks to achieve the said objective.
- Sustainable development: The major solution to the problem of negative impact is through sustainable development. The infrastructure, as well as tourism, needs an approach in which the activities do not result in exploitation. Ex: Reduce the use of items such as plastics and petroleum fuels. This can reduce pollution up to a certain extent.
- Awareness campaigns: By educating the locals about the impact of damage caused by activities such as rampant tourism, irresponsible constructions, and pollution, locals can be actively involved in conservation activities.
The unprecedented floods of Kerala bear testimony to the consequences one suffers if fragile ecosystems such as mountains are not conserved. Thus the above steps must be taken to protect them from damages of development and tourism.