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ICPEP-1 (1996)

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ICPEP-2 (2002)

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ICPEP-3 (2005)

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ICPEP-4 (2011)

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ICPEP-5 (2015)

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Fifth International Conference on Plants and Environmental Pollution (ICPEP-5)

A Report

*Nandita Singh

Over the years, environmental pollution has become a major problem for a number of reasons. The growth of human population and industrialization has led to resource competition among humans over land use change, deforestation or over harvesting, expansion of urbanization, which causes a negative impact on biodiversity of different habitats, forest cover, forest growth and ecosystem services. Additionally, the continuous rise in temperature, a sharp increase jn harmful gases, sea level rise, stress of nutrient and water availability may increase the negative impacts on different processes in earth and human systems. To discuss these and many other environmental issues at an international forum necessitated for organization of Fifth International Conference on Plants and Environmental Pollution (ICPEP-5) during 24th to 27th February 2015. The conference was jointly organized by International Society of Botanists (ISEB) and CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, India.

The conference was formally inaugurated on 24th February, 2015 by the Chief Guest, Prof. Y.S. Rajan, Honorary Distinguished Professor, Indian Space Research Organization, Bengaluru, India in the presence of over 500 delegates from India, USA, Poland, Sweden Czech Republic, Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh & U.A.E. Prof. Rajan in his inaugural address, shared with the audience, latest information on various fields of science like space-based earth observations, natural and herbal products, soil biology, invasion biology, biodiversity, farming and deforestation etc. and discussed the need for collaborative approach and intensifying the research in various areas. Dr. C. S. Nautiyal, Director CSIR-NBRI & CSIR-IITR and President ISEB, presided over the function and welcomed the guests and delegates. On this occasion, Prof. V. S. Ramamurthy, former secretary DST, the Guest of Honour, in his brief address conveyed his blessings to ISEB and ICPEP-5. He emphasized the need to extend scientific information to common people for the development of the country. Dr. K. J. Ahmad, Secretary ISEB and organizing Secretary ICPEP-5 explained the genesis of ISEB and the purpose of holding ICPEP-5.

Before the formal deliberations, the delegates observed two minutes’ silence to pay homage to two distinguished officials of ISEB/ICPEP namely, Dr Prakash Chandra (India) and Prof. Sagar Kurpa (U.S.A), who passed away after the last conference.

Scientific sessions followed the inaugural function. The conference program addressed the pressing problems of environmental stresses and the role of plants in combating them. The other important environmental issues deliberated upon included global climate change, freshwater problem, dwindling forests, biodiversity losses, emergent ecological disturbances on plants, environmental issues and other factors in environmental plant relation.

The deliberations during the conference revolved around the ten themes:

1. Climate Change

2. Environmental Biotechnology

3. Plant Microbe Interaction

4. Contemporary Environmental Issues

5. Plant Response to Environmental stress

6. BIoindication and Bioremediation

7. Environment and Biodiversity

8. Energy Biofuel

9. Environmental Impact Assessment

10. Eco-education

One special session devoted to Prof. H. S. Srivastava Foundation for Science and Society was also organized and Prof. Hendrik Kupper, Biology Center of the Czeck Academy of Sciences, delivered the Prof. H. S. Srivastava Memorial lecture. A special talk was delivered by Prof. Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, President and Coordinator, City Montessori School, Lucknow, India was delivered on “Illustration from a School Environment Project” highlighting the School Environment project and discussed how scientists can help in environmental awareness and technological changes.

The keynote lectures were given by leading researcher in relevant fields. In Climate Change session, Prof. V.R. Reddy, USDA-Agriculture Research Service, USA, deliberated on “Climate Change and Global Food Security: Challenges and Opportunities”. The presentation outlined some examples of the development and use of the crop productivity and to mitigate the harmful effects of adverse environmental variables on natural resources, both in the current and in the future changing environmental ecenario. In another keynote presentation Prof. Om Prakash Dhankher, Department of Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences, University of Massachusetts, USA discussed how engineered plants can be used for detoxification and phytoremediation of arsenic and production of Biofuels and Bioproducts on contaminated sites. Dr. Dipanker Chakraborti, Director (Research) School of Environmental Studies – Jadavpur University, India, through his keynote talk highlighted the widespread risk of arsenic and fluoride on health, socio-economic implications and mitigation strategies for safe water availability. Prof C.R. Bhatia former Secretary, Department of biotechnology spoke about the sustainable crop production with increasing population and diminishing natural resources. He emphasized on sustainable agriculture. In his keynote talk Prof. C.K. Varshney, School of Environmental Sciences, JNU and Distinguished Adjunct Professor, Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, focused on food security to feed 9.5 billion humans in 2050, which included declining land availability, soil erosion, CO2 emission, climate change etc. He also focused on topospheric ozone and its impact on plants. Mr, Mahendra Modi, ADG, SIT U.P., Lucknow, India deliberated on the innovative methods for Rain Water Harvesting and models for water conservation, recharging and development.

The session on Climate Change” dealt with the impact of climate change on biodiversity shift and extinction. The focus was on raising CO2 concentration and its impact on growth and yield of crops and forests and the assessment through geospatial modeling.

The lectures in the session “Environmental Biotechnology” dealt with the biotechnological approaches to combat environmental stresses which included heavy metal, salt, biotic biopolymer, etc.

The third session was “Plant Microbe Interaction” emphasizing the role of microbes in reducing stress (both biotic and abiotic) induced in crops. Researchers was also discussed on the microbial contribution to carbon sequestration.

The fourth session was devoted to the “Contemporary Environmental Issues” where matters related to development of eco-friendly technologies, sustainable agriculture, biopesticides, ecosystem services etc. were discussed.

The session of “Plant Response to Environmental Stress” focused on the interaction of different pollutants with the plant system.

The session of “Bioindication and Bioremediation” dealt with the importance of Bioremediation and role of different plants in reducing the contamination from water and soil. The importance of the biomonitoring of pollutants by plants like algae, lichen, mosses, microflora, ferns, water plants etc was also emphasized by several speaks .

In the seventh session, the lectures were focused on “Environment and Biodiversity”. There was mention on biodiversity scenario, conservation management and Environmental sustainability. Emphasis was also on role of ecosystems in protecting environment.

A session was also devoted to “Energy Biofuel” being an important talk of the day. Discussion was on the biofuels – impact on ecosystem services, biodiversity and human well-being.

The ninth session dealt with the assessment of environmental impact on natural resources. Various models were presented which can be used for predicting and mitigating pollutants.

The talks on “Eco-education session took the audience to the new dimension in environmental sciences like Green Computing, Microbial Forensics, Environmental Information system, etc.

There was an enthusiastic participation of delegates in presenting their research findings through the posters. The posters were evaluated and twelve posters were awarded prizes for new concept and good presentation.

The Valedictory Session was organized after the Scientific Sessions on the afternoon of 27th February, 2015 which was chaired by Dr. P.V. Sane, former Director of CSIR-NBRI and founder president of ISEB, Wherein, some distinguished delegates from different countries expressed their views about the outcome of the Conference. In the end Conference recommendations were presented and inputs were taken from the delegates.

 

ICPEP-5 RECOMMENDATIONS:

  1. There is a need to focus our attention to geopolitical issues of the environmental concern especially Climate Change and Water Management

  2. Develop and evaluate the comparative success of various cost-effective pollution mitigation strategies suited to and accepted by local community.

  3. Initiate studies on ecosystem services, apparent today and in future and assess their broad tangible and intangible benefits so that the people and concerned authorities may become better convinced to conserve ecosystems.

  4. Initiate ways to develop Global networking and linkages among botanical researchers in different countries to address common environmental issues.

  5. Systematic studies need to be initiated on Plant Biodiversity as bulwark against environmental pollution and climate change.

  6. Monitoring the spread of invasive alien plants and analysis of their impact on local biodiversity and ecosystem process.

  7. To develop a strong mechanism to promote environmental education and awareness among young people and environmental literacy among the public through outreach.

  8. Identification of suitable microbes and crop varieties for abiotic (including climate change) and biotic threat for enhanced productivity.

  9. Strategic use of plant species for pollution abatement and for biofuel production.

  10. There is a need to capture the benefits of “traditional knowledge” in plant research applying scientifically sound methodologies.

  11. Organize “Sixth International Conference on Plant and Environmental Pollution ICPEP-6” during next 4-5 years to exchange information on the progress of work, based on the aforementioned recommendations.

*CSIR- National Botanical Research institute. E-mail: nanditaicpep5@gmail.com


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