The prime initiative aiming to fulfill the objectives of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 is to document the available biological resources. Such an onerous plan of action can achieve success only with the active participation of the concerned citizenry. Thus an approach was urgently needed to identify communicating biodiversity messages in a way which would engage people?s hearts and minds, and encourage them to be positively involved. Creating People?s Biodiversity Register (PBR) ? the Register of the people, by the people and for the people has been identified as the approach needed. The task is nothing less than inspiring individual and social involvement to preserve the diversity of life and has become a mandatory function of BMC as per the Act.
A fact, which for obvious reasons is not deniable, is that people possess immense knowledge regarding local biodiversity resources, their status, dynamics and also techniques of use. This knowledge can be considered in two contexts ?
(i) knowledge of uses of bio-resources that might find commercial application, thus needing protection in the light of Intellectual Property Rights regime and (ii) knowledge significant for discreet management of natural resources, worthy of being widely shared to benefit all concerned. This knowledge needs to be tapped and documented.
Thus, the WBBB while preparing PBRs has kept in mind that the information contained is not only confined to a list of species available in an area but a comprehensive report on the species, their habitats, biological produce, their associated market price, harvesting and transport of the produce, regulations applied to harvesting, technologies pertaining to processing of the produce, people?s way of using their resources, local level management and use of resources, landscape related data, information on changes that the people perceive over a time span, water resources, conservation efforts on the people and their perception regarding the same along with information on the people- the main stakeholders in this exercise. These information are being documented under different chapters, viz., Lifescape, Landscape, Peoplescape and Timescape. Based on these documented information the concerned BMCs are expected to conduct activities in the context of management of local biodiversity resources by promoting conservation measures, organizing sustainable harvests, fixing collection charges for bio-resources, organizing value addition activities, promoting small scale entrepreneurships and designing effective marketing strategies.
The WBBB has initiated PBR activities in all the twenty districts of West Bengal covering eighty G.P.s. The constituted BMCs in each of the P.S./ Municipality are entrusted with carrying out the PBR exercise with guidance and technical support from the WBBB.Considering the amount of variety and variability in life forms, ecosystems, local socio-economic conditions and other factors governing the people and their economy in the state, the WBBB has decided that PBR exercises need to be fine-tuned to local conditions and as such, PBR exercises cannot be a format filling exercise with all details specified, but must allow sufficient freedom to take on board local concerns and priorities. The major ways of collecting data for the PBR as being followed by the WBBB includes (a) interviews of knowledgeable individuals/ veterans; (b) group interviews; (c) field observations by volunteers and technical support groups and (d) existing official documents.