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Forests & Wildlife

Kaziranga: The park that shoots people to protect rhinos

In Kaziranga national park, rangers shoot people to protect rhinos. The park features in a new BBC investigation, which highlights some of the conflicts that characterise contemporary conservation, as the need to protect endangered species comes into contact with the lives and rights of people who live in and around the increasingly threatened national parks.

Ritwick Dutta: ‘We need to have a selfish interest in environment’

Ritwick Dutta, noted environment lawyer and founder of the highly accomplished Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE), received the Bhagirath Prayas Samman, an award that recognises efforts towards protection and conservation of rivers. Manu Moudgil caught up with him on his journey so far and how we can further expand the constituency of environment.

The best way to protect the world’s forests? Keep people in them

Gabriel Popkin reports: To preserve a natural landscape, kick people out. This “guns and fences” paradigm of conservation relies on drastically restricting local people’s activities—or even displacing them altogether. Today, it has spread around the world, with disastrous consequences for communities. But in many cases, it may be misguided, argue a growing chorus of experts.

Special: Ten years of the Forest Rights Act

The Forest Rights Act of 2006 was widely hailed as a landmark legislation, one that sought to empower some of India’s most disenfranchised communities– the Adivasis. Ten years later, only 3 percent of forest dwellers have their rights recognised, and the Act itself is increasingly being undermined by the present government. Here’s a closer look.

The hipster hunger for superfoods is starving India’s adivasis

Purabi Bose writes: The downside of turning quinoa, acai berries of Amazon forests, or even moringa (drumstick) into new superfoods is that urban consumers compete with indigenous peoples for food resources. Through our demand for superfoods, we push indigenous populations to eat cheaper, less nutritious, less flavourful, imported staple diets like maize, rice and wheat.

Paul Ehrlich: Radical overhaul needed to halt earth’s sixth great extinction

Growing numbers of scientists have asserted that our planet might soon see a sixth massive extinction— driven by the escalating impacts of humanity. Others, such as the Swedish economist Bjørn Lomborg, have characterised such claims as ill-informed. We argue that the jury is in and the debate is over: Earth’s sixth great extinction has arrived.

Connecting the dots between the environment, conservation and adivasi politics

Shashank Kela, author of an acclaimed study of adivasi history and politics, writes: This essay aims to make connections between things that are usually studied separately– environmental history, political economy, conservation practice and adivasi politics. The belief that this potential convergence could do with wider discussion is my sole justification for putting it up here.

Rajni Bakshi: Degrowth – a “bomb-word” comes of age

Rajni Bakshi writes: Votaries of degrowth are the first to acknowledge that they are deploying a ‘bomb-word’. Yet it highlights an inconvenient truth–that infinite economic growth is not possible on a finite planet. Even ‘green’ growth, supported by technological wizardry cannot, by itself, address the deepening global crisis of under-employment, social dislocation, and environmental degradation.

Ecologists are fiddling while our natural heritage burns, says Harvard scientist

Aaron M. Ellison writes in Nature: Better data will not save elephants, rhinos or any other species. Countless individuals, institutions, governments, and multinational and non-governmental organizations have been collecting, assimilating and organizing such data for decades, essentially fiddling while our biological heritage burns… I suggest three crucial actions that scientists can take, beginning right now.

Spotlight: Who is running our pollution control boards?

Ritwick Dutta writes: The National Green Tribunal recently passed a landmark judgment ruling that only those persons who have ‘special knowledge’ and ‘practical experience’ in ‘matters relating to environmental protection’ are eligible for appointment to pollution control boards. Unfortunately, across various states, persons who do not fulfill the criterion have been appointed in these posts.

Video & Review: The Hidden Life of Trees

Trees operate on very different time-scales from the ones we are used to, both in terms of life-spans and in terms of how long it takes them to process information and translate it into action. Is this the main reason why we find it so difficult to recognise them as truly sentient beings, Wohlleben wonders.

Botswana prez is ‘Racist of the Year’; Indian godman among nominees

Survival International has given its “Racist of the Year” award for 2016 to President Ian Khama of Botswana. The award is given annually to the person displaying the greatest prejudice against tribal peoples. Nominees in 2016 included Australian cartoonist Bill Leak and Indian godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, whose film MSG-2 depicts tribal people as “evil”.

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