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.
Forests & Wildlife
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.
Daripalli Ramaiah, recently awarded the Padmashri, India’s third highest civilian honour, has dedicated his life to increasing the country’s green cover and in the process has been credited with planting one crore saplings. The fight of Ramaiah to plant trees was not alone, as his wife Janamma has also made significant contribution to tree planting.
G. Seetharaman reports: Activists say one of the biggest hurdles for FRA is that even states like Maharashtra, among the better performers, and Odisha are introducing policies which will help the forest department retain control of forest resources through joint forest management committees or similar bodies, which will dilute the powers of the gram sabha.
Jemima Rohekar writes: So secluded is Silent Valley that there is no written record of any human habitation in its core area. It is also the site of the first and most bitterly fought ‘environment vs development’ debate in India. Silent Valley reinforces the fact that forests and their resident biodiversity are our greatest wealth.
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.
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.
From Nature Video: It’s a simple question: how many trees are there on Earth? The answer required 421,529 measurements from fifty countries on six continents. Their findings? The earth is losing 10 billion trees every year. Now this data has been combined to produce a stunning visualisation of earth as you’ve never seen it before.
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.
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.
When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable occurrence of a “trophic cascade” – a single change in a food chain that transforms an entire ecosystem. How exactly did the wolves change the river? Author and environmentalist George Monbiot explains in this video.
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.
The Guardian reports: The number of wild animals on Earth is set to fall by two-thirds by 2020, which a new report attributes to an ongoing mass extinction. The analysis, the most comprehensive to date, indicates that animal populations plummeted by 58% between 1970 and 2012, with losses on track to reach 67% by 2020.
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.
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.
Dia Mirza writes: We cannot call this devastation of ecology and livelihoods ‘natural calamities’ anymore; it’s evident that there is a nexus of powerful people who are ignorant to the ramifications of their idea of “development” and “progress” that is gutting our forests, polluting our rivers and leading many states to a state of drought.
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.
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.
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”.
From Juggernaut publishing: There’s a hidden war going on in central India away from the headlines — and Bastar is at the centre of it. Sociologist Nandini Sundar, who has written about Bastar and its people for nearly three decades, has now authored a gripping account of the war between the Maoists and the State.