New Delhi: There’s still little data on the north-east’s flora and fauna. The Union environment ministry now intends to plug that gap, and has proposed detailed surveys of the region over the next few months.

“Our country has a rich biodiversity but in some regions we don’t have proper details of our unique flora and fauna. There are many species which are yet to be discovered or recorded. The north-east is one such area which is very rich in biodiversity and that is why we are focusing on mapping biodiversity of the area," said a senior environment ministry official, who did not wish to be named.

The ministry has asked the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) to carry out the surveys over the next few months.

ZSI is India’s nodal body to carry out surveys for the study of fauna, systematic zoology, animal ecology, wildlife and zoogeography, animal behaviour, animal population and also marine fauna. BSI is the authority for undertaking intensive floristic surveys and collecting detailed information on the occurrence, distribution, ecology and economic utility of plants in the country.

In terms of biodiversity, India is a mega diverse country as with just 2.4% of the world’s land area, it harbours 7-8% of all recorded species, and four out of 34 global biodiversity hot spots. Of the four in India, one such hot spot is Indo-Burma, which includes the entire north-eastern region, except Assam.

“North-east India is remote and distant with a highly difficult terrain. But recording the species is the first step towards conservation. Once we have better details of our bio treasure in that area, we will be able to take more informed conservation steps," the environment ministry official added.

Besides, in order to protect biodiversity from changing climate, the ministry has been mapping biodiversity-rich areas of India and has, in the process, created at least 732 protected areas, which constitute about 4.89% of India’s total geographical area.

The National Democratic Alliance government has put a huge thrust on the development of the north-eastern region which will certainly trigger huge developmental projects.

“So in order to save species and promote development without destroying environment, we should have a proper record of our unique flora and fauna," the official said.

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