Tip | “Forests Alive”: Educational and other books combining scientific knowledge and hereditary practices of the Soliga and other tribal communities worldwide

Photo @ Davidson Sargunam
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ATREE at Biligiri Rangaswamy Wildlife Sanctuary

The process, while documenting and archiving a vast resource of places and stories, also provided a critical understanding of the ways Soligas interacted with the landscape. ATREE used formal cartographic instruments such as GIS-enabled devices, to locate places and names that Soligas identified with in mainstream maps. ATREE has developed maps – Kannada, English – presenting the Soliga narrative in consultation with Soligas. These are available as posters for wider dissemination. This is the first effort by Soligas to re-engage with the landscape after their displacement and curtailment of rights since the establishment of the protected area. […]

Mapping sacred natural sites (SNS) in BRT

ATREE mapped sacred natural sites in BRT wildlife sanctuary to understand the historical and cultural ecologies of the Soligas who have inhabited the landscape for centuries. The process, while documenting and archiving a vast resource of places and stories, also provided a critical understanding of the ways Soligas interacted with the landscape.

Recognition of Forest Rights Act (RFRA)

The Conservation and Livelihoods programme’s focus on co-management finds resonance in the recently enacted RFRA 2006, offering policy space to strengthen community initiatives in governance, while also providing for secure tenure for tribals and traditional forest dwellers to stake claims over land they have cultivated since centuries.

After the enactment of the RFRA in December 2006, several workshops and meetings were organized in BR Hills to disseminate information on the Act among community leaders and members. Among the significant initial workshops include a workshop organized in collaboration with Soliga Abhivruddhi Sangha (SAS), Vivekananda Girijan Kalyan Kendra (VGKK) and Kalpavriksh towards disseminating the key features of the Act among members of the Soliga community. Subsequently ATREE, in collaboration with SAS, organized several workshops to develop capacities of Soligas towards claiming rights under the Act. […]

As part of evidence and rights to access places of cultural importance, the mapping of sacred sites, initiated with ATREE, was also seen as an important activity that would provide evidence about Soliga presence in the landscape, their access to, and protection of sites of cultural importance. […]

Networks with other organisations have been a strong point of the BRT conservation education effort. Kalpavriksh, in collaboration with ATREE and VGKK, prepared a teacher resource handbook and CD on conservation education, called ‘Forests Alive’. The handbook represents participatory experiments and exercises carried out in BRT with the Soliga community. It can be easily adapted to different contexts too. […]

Source: “ATREE at Biligiri Rangaswamy Wildlife Sanctuary”, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE)
URL: http://atree.org/ccc_brt
Date visited: 25 December 2020

Sacred Natural Sites are the world’s oldest protected places. This book focuses on a wide spread of both iconic and lesser known examples such as sacred groves of the Western Ghats (India), Sagarmatha /Chomolongma (Mt Everest, Nepal, Tibet – and China), the Golden Mountains of Altai (Russia), Holy Island of Lindisfarne (UK) and the sacred lakes of the Niger Delta (Nigeria). The book illustrates that sacred natural sites, although often under threat, exist within and outside formally recognised protected areas, heritage sites. Sacred natural sites may well be some of the last strongholds for building resilient networks of connected landscapes. They also form important nodes for maintaining a dynamic socio-cultural fabric in the face of global change. The diverse authors bridge the gap between approaches to the conservation of cultural and biological diversity by taking into account cultural and spiritual values together with the socio-economic interests of the custodian communities and other relevant stakeholders. […]

Is scientific knowledge in conflict with religious sentiment? This book answers the question through the various case studies cited from Africa, the Indian subcontinent, South America, Russia, China and the United Kingdom, [and] shows that knowledge enhances understanding, and deepens sentiment regarding nature.” – Manjusha Misra, School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal, International Journal of Environmental Studies.

Source: Sacred Natural Sites: Conserving Nature and Culture (Routledge, 2010)
URL: https://www.routledge.com/Sacred-Natural-Sites-Conserving-Nature-and-Culture/Verschuuren-Wild-Mcneely-Oviedo/p/book/9781849711678
Date visited: 25 December 2020

Publications on the above issues may be found here (title descriptions and libraries):


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Secrets of the Jungle
An activity book about the Central Indian forests, its wildlife and its people
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