The variety of genes, species and ecosystems which encompass populations, communities & habitats constitute biological diversity. It forms the foundation upon which human civilization depends. Biological resources are essential for maintaining the basic processes on which life depends and a key to sustainable development. Bio-resources provide food, medicine and products of commercial and non commercial use and also maintain life by providing environmental services like, air & water quality, soil fertility, pest and disease control, waste disposal etc. Increasing human population, industrialization, intensive agricultural & animal husbandry practices and over-exploitation of natural resources are, however, leading to loss of biological resources.
India is the seventh largest country in the world and Asia’s second largest nation with an area of 3.29 million sq km. With only 2.5% of land area of the world, it accounts for 7.8% of the global recorded species especially because of its varied physiography, diverse climatic conditions and a variety of habitats. It is one of the top 12 mega biodiversity countries and has 4 of 35 biodiversity hot spots areas are Western Ghats, Himalayas, Sundalands and Indo-Burma (Nicobar Island). The country is estimated to have 49,000 plant species and 81,000 animal species representing 12.5% of the world’s flora and 6.6% of its fauna.
Punjab has a very small area under forest cover (approximately 6% of the total geographical area). The major forest areas in the state are- Shivalik Forests (especially in the districts of Ropar, Gurdaspur and Hoshiapur), Bir Forests (in district Patiala) and Mand Forests (in districts Amritsar& Kapurthala).With about 84% land area under agriculture, the cropland ecosystem forms the dominant ecosystem in the state. The state was known to harbour great genetic variability; however, over the years this has reduced due to change in cropping pattern and higher dependence on certain high yielding varieties of crops. Though large scale biodiversity studies have not been carried out in the state, yet, a large number of flora & fauna has been recorded from the forest areas and wetlands.