An environment minister’s call for a change in the colonial outlook: “Forests, tribal forest dwellers and life forms living in forests complement one another and are not rivals”

Forests, tribals and wildlife are not rivals, says [former] environment minister

Anil Madhav Dave addressing senior-level forest officers at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in Dehradun

The meeting of state forest secretaries to develop mitigation measures for faster green clearances for projects in wildlife habitats, which began today, saw the environment minister Anil Madhav Dave affirm, “Jungle is a living entity and it also communicates, provided we have the ability to listen to it.”

While addressing the forest officials at the two-day conference, he called for a change in the colonial outlook that has existed from the pre-Independence period towards forests, tribal forest dwellers and life forms living in forests.

“The three essential components – forests, tribal forest dwellers and life forms living in forests – complement one another and are not rivals,” he said, adding, “Large-scale felling of trees in forests is not being done by tribal forest dwellers.” […]

The official note said that the “central theme of the conference is development without destruction, peoples’ participation, building skills and capacities of the workforce, as well as people dependent on forests and illegal trade in wildlife and timber.” […]

The minister released a book titled ‘Golden Leaves – Celebrating 50 years of Indian Forest Service’ on the occasion.
Related [Down to Earth]

Source: “Forests, tribals and wildlife are not rivals” by Rajeshwari Ganesan, Down To Earth, 21 October 2016
Date Visited: 27 March 2024

Foundation stone of world’s first Natural World Heritage Centre laid at WII
Kavita Upadhyay, The Hindu, Dehradun August 30, 2014
In an unprecedented step towards conservation of natural heritage sites in Asia and the Pacific region, the foundation stone of the world’s first Natural World Heritage Centre was laid at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), in Dehradun on Saturday. […]
“This is UNESCO’s first centre in the world for the conservation of Natural World Heritage,” Dr Mathur said.
Dr Mathur said that the centre would work towards protection and conservation of around 67 Natural World Heritage sites across the 50 countries in Asia and the Pacific region.
Capacity building courses, research for Natural World Heritage protection, and tasks ensuring community participation towards conservation of the natural heritage would be undertaken at the WII centre, Dr Mathur said.
The centre at WII was the result of the Central government’s ‘Request for Action’ submitted to UNESCO in the year 2012 for the establishment of a Centre of Excellence on Natural World Heritage for Asia and the Pacific region at WII. The proposal was approved by UNESCO in November, 2013.

Source: Foundation stone of world’s first Natural World Heritage Centre laid at WII – The Hindu
Date Visited: Sun Dec 25 2016 12:28:43 GMT+0100 (CET)

About Wildlife Institute of India

Established in 1982, Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is an internationally acclaimed Institution, which offers training program, academic courses and advisory in wildlife research and management. The Institute is actively engaged in research across the breadth of the country on biodiversity related issues.
The Institute’s idyllic campus that has been carefully developed to create state of the art infrastructure encourages scholarly work. […]

Post Box #18, Chandrabani
Dehradun – 248001
E-mail: [email protected]
Telephone: +91 135 2640114 – 15, 2646100

Source: Wildlife Institute of India, an Autonomous Institute of MoEF, Govt. of India
Date Visited: Sun Dec 25 2016 12:18:47 GMT+0100 (CET)

Villagers show some of the forest produce and the indigenous crops they harvest through shifting cultivation.
Images: Chitrangada Choudhury | >>

How a typical “compensatory afforestation project” has worked out in practice

An Indian government afforestation programme is brazenly usurping Adivasi land

A new law allows trees felled because of industrial projects to be replanted on land occupied by indigenous communities without their consent.
Chitrangada Choudhury, (27 June 2019) | Read the full article here >>

[…] In India, projects that necessitate the use of forest areas for non-forest purposes, such as mining and infrastructure projects, are required by law to undertake compensatory afforestation on an equivalent piece of non-forest land or double the expanse of degraded forest land. In the past, forest departments have largely created monoculture plantations of non-indigenous, commercial species such as eucalyptus, acacia and teak under compensatory afforestation projects. The government counts such plantations as forests. The plantation scheme is a component by which the government maintains that it is increasing forests, thus fulfilling a key commitment under the 2015 Paris Climate agreement to counter climate change by creating carbon sinks.

The compensatory afforestation project pitched in Thaggaon, Chhote Salhi and as many as 14 other villages in the area is related to the recent forest clearance permission awarded by the environment ministry this February to the Parsa coal block in the adjoining Sarguja district’s dense Hasdeo Arand forests, one of India’s finest. 

In all, the project is to sweep across more than 4,000 acres, an area larger than 3,000 football fields, in the 16 villages, impacting hundreds of residents – predominantly Adivasis, or indigenous communities, also called scheduled tribes.

Forest and revenue officials have crafted this project despite the fact that most of the lands in question are being used by the village communities for farming, common property usage such as for grazing livestock, gathering mahua, tendu, chaar or chironji and other lucrative forest produce. The land also includes parcels that are rocky called chattan-waali zameen, where, villagers pointed out, saplings would not survive. […]  

“Land banks are serving to invisible-ise Adivasi communities,” Gladson Dungdung, an Adivasi author who has written extensively on land banks and forest rights, told IndiaSpend. “In Jharkhand, over 20 lakh acres have been listed in land banks, including common lands, sacred groves and forest lands. People have no clue, and they suddenly find their land and forests being fenced away, cutting off life-giving access for them and their livestock.”  

The result is a double displacement, said Sarin – first for forest clearance and then for compensatory afforestation. […]  

IndiaSpend travelled to eight out of the 16 villages, and heard a common narrative: villagers said that officials had neither formally informed nor consulted them about the afforestation project. And that they were opposed to such a project, since the lands marked for plantations were privately held or common property land, largely their means of survival and food security.  […]  

“Forest officials drive up in their jeeps, walk around with their compasses, put these boards in English, and drive away,” said Tulai Danaika, showing us a compensatory afforestation board erected in an undulating forested patch. “They never tell us anything, or ask us what we think. This has happened thrice now.”  […]  

Hali Dehury, a woman resident, said, “We are mountain people. These are our desi crops grown through podu. These are our forests. These are the resources we live on. If they take it for plantations, we will face hunger.” Over a half-an-hour walk, a group of women from the village pointed out multiple medicinal plants on the land and listed the range of crops the village grows through the year.  […]  

“The demand for and clashes over the land will only get more acute, to the detriment of tribals,” Dungdung forecasted.
Ramesh Sharma, national coordinator with the land rights group Ekta Parishad, seconded him. “The two laws are genetically different,” said Sharma. “The Compensatory Afforestation Fund [Act] is bureaucracy-centric and the Forest Rights Act is people-centric. It is a recipe for conflict.”

Chitrangada Choudhury is an independent journalist and researcher, working on issues of indigenous and rural communities, forests and the environment.

This article first appeared on IndiaSpend, a data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit. It was produced with support from the Pulitzer Centre and also appears here

Source: An Indian government afforestation programme is brazenly usurping Adivasi land
Date visited: 27 June 2019

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How much does biodiversity matter to climate change? The ecosystems of the land and ocean absorb around half our our planet warming emissions. But these are being destroyed by human activity. At the same time, climate change is a primary driver of the destruction of these habitats and biodiversity loss. If biodiversity is our strongest natural defence against climate change (as it’s been described), what’s stopping us from doing more to protect it? | For up-to-date reports listen to The Climate Question (BBC) | United Nations on climate change >>

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