Biodiversity is the term given to the variety and variability among living organisms from all sources, and the ecological systems of which they are a part. This diversity, more than often refers only to the wide variety of plants, animals and microorganisms, but actually includes, also the genetic differences within each species and also ecosystem diversity. Biodiversity is our wealth, and a vital means of sustenance, therefore, it is absolutely imperative to understand that this diversity must be conserved as a critically important attribute of nature.
The concept arose at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, where world leaders agreed on a comprehensive strategy for "sustainable development". One of the key agreements was the Convention on Biological Diversity which was signed by vast majority of the world's governments who swore commitments for maintaining the world's ecological foundations as the business of economic development proceeds. The Convention establishes three main goals: (i) the conservation of biological diversity, (ii) the sustainable use of its components and (iii) the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources.
India - A signatory to the Treaty since February 1994, is one of the first few countries to have enacted an appropriate comprehensive legislation to achieve the objectives of the convention. Amongst the signatory nations, India has some unique qualities. It has been globally ranked as one of the megadiversity countries and two of its biogeographic provinces, Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas are globally recognisedashot spots.
The Biological Diversity Act, 2002, provides necessary statutory and administrative mechanism at the national level to realise the objectives of the CBD. The Act is aimed to protect and regulate access to plant and animal genetic resources and traditional knowledge. A three-tiered system of regulation is envisaged under the Act, which consists of the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) at the head, followed by State Biodiversity Boards (SBB) and local level Biodiversity Management Committees. The main functions of the SBBs are to regulate requests for utilization of biological resources by Indian nationals, to assist the State Government in notification of areas of biodiversity importance as biodiversity heritage sites and in framing of rules for their management and conservations.
The West Bengal Biodiversity Board was formed w.e.f. September 16, 2004 in compliance with the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, as a statutory body under the Department. of Environment, Govt. of West Bengal. The WBBB functions towards ensuring proper implementation of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
The West Bengal Biological Diversity Rules, 2005 were formed w.e.f. 27th January, 2006 in exercise of the power conferred by section 63 of Biological Diversity Act, 2002. It confers legal purview to restrictions on usage of biological resources of the State by the Indian citizens. As such, an application for Access in the prescribed Form to the West Bengal Biodiversity Board has been made mandatory for Indian citizens seeking to obtain biological resources occurring in the State or knowledge associated thereto, for purposes of commercial utilization or bio-survey and bio-utilization.