Estimating the funding required for biodiversity conservation in general, and protected area management in particular, is a formidable challenge on account of multitude of interrelated issues and the wide range of stakeholders involved. The issue of ‘scale’ has an overriding significance. It is relatively simpler to estimate funding requirements for a single protected area, and much more complicated for estimating funding requirements for the entire protected area network. The source of funding to protected areas is also varied ranging from international to federal to provincial to site and in some cases municipal. Protected area have the potential to generate ‘benefits’ in form of ecosystem services they provide, but environmental economists have not been able to provide simple but robust tools to estimate these benefits. Protected Area Management Planning is an important process through which funding requirement for protected areas can be assessed. Yet a large number of protected areas have not completed the process and/or have dealt with this issue in a superficial manner. Lack of inventory of protected area resources, coupled with lack of technical capacity, is a major constraint in the management planning process.
The solution was to develop and implement CBD PoPWA for India (2012-2020) (http://www.cbd.int/doc/world/in/in-nbsap-powpa-en.pdf). A new federal scheme for ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats (IDWH) was launched in 2009 for strengthening conservation actions in respect of 16 identified terrestrial species and six marine species in various landscapes across the country. Funding of INR 800 crores (US $160 million) was earmarked (http://wiienvis.nic.in/userlogin.aspx?Page=Integrated_development_wildli...) for a 5-year period (2007-2012). A task force on Transboundary Protected Areas (TBPAs) was set up to identify potential TBPAs in the context of seven neighboring countries (http://wiienvis.nic.in/userlogin.aspx?Page=TBPA%20write%20up%20_Final_.p...). The process of Management Effectiveness Evaluation of protected areas and Tiger Reserves in India was launched. A new protected area valuation study was initiated to assess to the range of ecosystem services being provided by 47 tiger reserves in India. A process of delineation, gazette notification and management of ‘Ecologically Sensitive Zones' (ESZs) on a country-wide basis to mainstream protected areas has been initiated (http://envfor.nic.in/legis/eco-senstive.htm). Efforts to strengthen the Marine protected area network and develop/enhance protected area management capacity has also been initiated under the Indo-German Environmental Program.
- Preparation of India’s Action Plan for Implementing CBD Program of Work on Protected Area (PoPWA): As a signatory to the PoPWA and as a first step towards solution, an implementation plan was prepared in 2012, that outlined the national vision and strategies for meeting Aichi Target 11 along with requirement of funds.
- Development of Site-specific Management Plans: Key steps for development of PA Management Plans were identified that included inventory and assessments, provision of equipment and building of capacity at a budget estimate of US $28 million and a timeline of 5 years (2012-2016) was prepared for this task.
- Securing Identified Corridors and Connectivity Areas: Although PAs are central to conservation of biological diversity, new research is indicating that for landscape-dependent species such as elephant and tiger, the conventional PA-centric approach is not adequate for species conservation. An effort to identify and mainstream corridors and connectivity areas with active participation of civil society was conceived at an estimated cost of US$13.2 million within a timeline of 8 years (2012-2020).
- Protected Area Valuation Assessment: Since benefits from PAs in form of ecosystem services have not been quantified, a pilot study was envisaged in the network of 47 tiger reserves in different biogeographical zones of the country at an estimated cost of US$1milion with a timeline of 4 years (2012-2016).
- Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of PAs: The MEE of PA network was conceived using the IUCN-WCPA framework with specifically developed 30 headline indicators. 126 PAs and 47 tiger reserves were subjected to MEE process at an estimated cost of US$5million within a timeline of 10 years (2005 to 2014) (http://wiienvis.nic.in/userlogin.aspx?Page=MEE_PAs_I.pdf and http://wiienvis.nic.in/userlogin.aspx?Page=MEE%20TR%20Report_2011.pdf).
A good action-oriented, science-based plan developed through stakeholder participation holds the key to success. India’s Action Plan for Implementation of PoWPA (http://www.cbd.int/doc/world/in/in-nbsap-powpa-en.pdf) has contributed in raising awareness about the challenges of species and ecosystem conservation on the one hand and on the other has been successful in engaging a wide range of stakeholders in the task of mainstreaming PAs in the larger landscape planning and management. The role of good conservation science has been exemplified in the process of delineation and mapping of corridors and connectivity areas for landscape dependent species and the notification of ecologically sensitive zones in the larger landscape to promote mainstreaming is underway (http://envfor.nic.in/sites/default/files/HLWG-Report-Part-1_0.pdf). In other words, the formidable challenges in reconciling conservation-development challenges in the context of PAs are now being better addressed. The MEE process has led to Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Limitations (SWOT) analyses of the PA network in India, based on which management actions and interventions are being planned and implemented (http://wiienvis.nic.in/userlogin.aspx?Page=MEE%20TR%20Report_2011.pdf&am...). The Resource Group on Wildlife Management constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India has estimated that INR 10488 crores or US$2098 million would be required during the period 2012-2017.
India’s geographic coverage under area-based conservation measures presently is around 20 percent, indicating successful meeting of 17 percent Aichi Target 11 under terrestrial areas. In respect of coastal and marine areas Aichi Target of 10 percent, India as with the rest of the world needs to take significant steps. The MEE of 126 PAs carried so far gives an average score of 61% (http://wiienvis.nic.in/userlogin.aspx?Page=MEE_PAs_I.pdf&file=pdf), which is higher than the global MEE score of 53% (Fiona Leverington, Marc Hockings and Katia Lemos Costa (2008)). Nevertheless as the country moves on the rapid trajectory of economic development reconciling conservation development challenges remains a daunting challenge. In a recent exercise carried out as a part of revision/updating of India’s National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) in 2014 (http://www.wii.gov.in/images//images/documents/NBAP_Addendum_2014.pdf and https://www.cbd.int/doc/world/in/in-nr-05-en.pdf) it has been estimated that the core and peripheral funding available for biodiversity conservation in 2013-2014 under federal and state (provincial) funding is ca INR 9300 crores or US$ 1483 million. India is also amongst the few countries in the world that has her own National Biodiversity Targets (NBT) aligning with the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (ABT) and NBT 6 aligns well with ABT 6 and which India has already achieved for the terrestrial area.