Pune, Feb 2015 : “To think is good but to act is better” is practiced and tacitly preached by TERRE Policy Centre. We are inspired and encouraged further by all those who practise this practice. To disseminate this inspiration further, we organize a monthly event called “Rendezvous” with people working for environment. The second session was organized with the savior of biodiversity Northwestern Sahyadri Ghats, Dr. Archana Godbole on 13th of February 2015. The zealous and passionate Dr. Godbole delivered a lecture on work of her team in the Konkan area in the state of Maharashtra.
Biodiversity of a region characterizes the power of nature sustain life of diverse forms. Most of these diverse species have symbiotic association with each other to support individual livelihood. Thus sustenance of each species is equally important. And our formidable Sahyadri supports around 6208 species within Konkan area. Out of these, 2048 are endemic ones. With massive magnitude of deforestation, many of these are critically endangered. To protect such biological hot-spots, work is to be done not only to enhance biodiversity but also to maintain living standards of people who depend on these forests. Most of the people living in close vicinity of these hot-spots of Konkan are poor and dependent on the primary occupations like farming, fishery, livestock husbandry etc. To tell these people that forest conservation or biodiversity conservation as a whole, is essential and therefore, cutting down of forest should be stopped, is impractical! As Dr. Godbole puts it, “…you have to be a part of the place where they live, spend time and understand their true problems”. No wonder 20 years spent by Dr. Godbole and her team in the Konkan has earned them credibility in the eyes of the Konkani peasants. Now, they do support the work of AERF (Dr. Godbole’s NGO) and contribute a major share of the success of the coupled efforts.
The AERF team began with working for smaller sectors, called “Devrai”. These are the areas of land traditionally maintained by the villagers as sacred places. Dr. Godbole’s team promoted such protections. When they succeeded with such small plots (of a few hectors), they extended their work to cover larger plots and hence impact the conservation better. The farmers sign a 5-10 years agreement to conduct no deforestation activity on their respective land. These people are generally the poor farmers of the village. To satisfy their need of money, they are paid a little over the amount they would have otherwise received for cutting down of the forest from the contractors. Now with expansion of scope and widespread of the work, many corporates and individuals contribute to AERF for protection of green cover and maintenance of biodiversity here.
With appeal to join hands with this noble cause of environment conservation initiated by the adept and arduous Dr. Godbole, we conclude this session of Rendezvous and welcome you for the next session in the month of March with another environmentalist.