The Protected Area coverage in the country has increased from 4.90 per cent in 2014 to 5.03 per cent in 2021, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change said on Wednesday.
"The increased Protected Areas (PAs) coverage includes an increase in Protected Areas in the country from 740 PAs with area of 1,61,081.62 sq kms in 2014 to present 981 PAs with an area of 1,71,921 sq kms," a Ministry release said.
Also, after several years of focus on tigers, the Ministry turned its attention to dolphins, elephants, and lions this year. "The project dolphin and the project lion have been initiated and the associated environmental impact of this is also strengthened at the major sanctuary and forest areas for cleaner environmental protection of endangered species," the release said.
The population of several species such as tiger, Asiatic lion, greater one-horned rhinoceros, Asian elephants, etc. have increased with wildlife health being addressed to aggressively monitor zoonotic diseases, it claimed.
India has taken a leadership role in conservation of migratory birds along the Central Asian Flyway and had organised a two-day workshop in October 2021 with Central Asian Flyway (CAF) Range countries regarding the same.
Another positive listed by the Ministry was that the number of Ramsar sites (Wetlands of International Importance) in India have increased to 47, covering an area of 10,90,230 hectares, which also include 21 new sites designated during 2019-2021.
"India has the largest number of Ramsar sites in South Asia. A dedicated web portal for wetlands has been developed and was launched on October 2, 2021. The portal indianwetlands.in is a publicly available information and knowledge platform to facilitate knowledge sharing, information dissemination, host capacity building material, and provide a single-point access data repository," the release said.
As many as 10 beaches in seven states and one Union Territory have been developed on par with international standards and has been conferred with the prestigious Blue Flag certification for its environmentally sound management and ecological sustainable infrastructures with adequate safety measures.
"This has resulted in better waste management, maintaining bathing water quality, self-sustaining solar energy-based infrastructure, containing marine littering, enhancing local level livelihood options and increased tourist-based economy," it added.