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Bookshelf: Indica—A Deep Natural History Of The Indian Subcontinent

Amita Baviskar writes: Pranay Lal’s Indica, describes the first 4,600 million years of the subcontinent, comprising a cast of fascinating characters in a drama that begins with the Big Bang and closes with the arrival of Homo sapiens, present-day humans, in India some 70,000 years ago. But along with sparking appreciation, it also raises apprehensions.

How a holy hill got its groves back

From The Hindu: An afforestation initiative led by naturalists and locals, with support from forest and revenue department officials, has resulted in the Arunachala hill in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, shedding its barren, brown visage. Lalitha Sridhar reports on the decade-plus-long turnaround of a damaged fragile, semi-arid ecosystem by successfully harnessing scientific expertise and local knowledge.

Layla and the owl’s eyes: Ecopsychology and being human

Will Falk writes: Just like an owl on a chain is no longer an owl, and an elephant in a zoo is no longer an elephant, humans cut off from the nature are no longer human. We are animals and animals are an ongoing process of relationships. When those relationships become impossible, we lose ourselves.

Tribute: A mountain and a movement: the Save Western Ghats March

From The Hindu:  Straddling six states, the 1600-odd kilometre-long Western Ghats is home to an astonishing diversity of life and supports innumerable communities and cultures. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the remarkable 100-day ‘Save Western Ghats March’, a landmark event in Indian environmental activism, which became the model for numerous campaigns to follow.

India’s top predator may just be the dog. And we’re to blame

From Hindustan Times: Man’s best friend has become a growing threat to India’s wildlife. As canine numbers rise in cities, towns and villages, entire ecosystems are being affected.They’ve attacked endangered stags in Kashmir and preyed on livestock in the Himalayas. Wild ass, gazelle, nilgai, blackbuck and deer have died of dog attacks in our sanctuaries.

Fight back: An ecopsychological understanding of depression

Will Falk writes: I’m an environmental activist. I have depression. To be an activist with depression places me squarely in an irreconcilable dilemma: The destruction of the natural world creates stress which exacerbates depression. However, acting to stop the destruction of the natural world exposes me to a lot of stress which, again, exacerbates depression.

Conservation betrayals in Central India

Heera Bai reports: Across the Tribal Belt of Central India, indigenous communities are constantly being evicted from ancestral lands to make way for development projects, industry, tourism and government-sanctioned conservation initiatives. In the states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the Baiga community have faced a legacy of evictions that dates back more than 30 years.

Environmentalism used to be about defending the wild – not any more

From The Guardian: According to Paul Kingsnorth, environmentalism’s increasingly urban mindset means that instead of defending wild places we now spend our time arguing how to best domesticate these wild places –deserts, oceans, mountains– to generate the “green” energy needed to fuel things that, until recently, we couldn’t even imagine, let alone claim to need.

Paul Kingsnorth: The Axis and the Sycamore

The Axial Age, which refers to the historical period between the eighth and third centuries BC, was a period of profound transformations, which created “the foundations upon which humanity still subsists today,” a period of collapse from which emerged new ways of seeing and being… We may be living through a second Axial Age now…

In memory of Prashanth Ettaboina: A passionate life cut short

Anuja Mital writes: A year ago, on this day, a young 23-year-old wildlife researcher and my classmate, Prashanth Ettaboina, passed away. Ever the optimist, and crazy about tigers like no one else, the news of his suicide shocked us all –although till date there has been no satisfying inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his death.

Winners of the Whitley Awards for nature conservation 2017

From The Guardian: Indian winners of this year’s prestigious ‘green Oscars’ are Purnima Barman, who has been inspiring women to protect Assam’s greater adjutant stork and its habitat, and Sanjay Gubbi, who has been working on reducing deforestation in Karnataka’s tiger corridors. Whitley Awards are donated by the Shears Foundation in memory of Trevor Shears.

A season of regret for an aging tribal expert

From The New York Times: At 82, the anthropologist T. N. Pandit passes his days in the gentle occupations of old age: poetry, a Buddhist study circle, a daily walk in the park. It is rare for anyone to ask him about the years he spent with the hunter gatherer tribes of the Andaman Islands.

The illegal and ignominious world of wildlife trafficking

A recent raid at the Meerut house of a retired Colonel and his national-level shooter son unearthed a shockingly large cache of animal skins, parts and meat, apart from over 100 illegally imported firearms. This feature by Down to Earth analyses the magnitude and international nature of the flourishing illegal trade of Indian wildlife species.

Spotlight: The invisible conservation workers

From The Wire: Compared to farm, fishery and factory work, Himalayan porterage is rarely the subject of labour scholarship. For that matter, the forest protection and conservation labour of Adivasis and Dalits too rarely occupies the labour scholar’s interest… The biologically and culturally diverse eastern Himalayas are an apt geography to locate this labour-conservation conundrum.

How a statist vision of development has brought Andaman’s tribals close to extinction

Excerpt from Islands in Flux, by Pankaj Sekhsaria: These communities of thousands of individuals with a living lineage going back thousands of years have been brought to this sorry state in a mere 150 years. It began with the British and their policies, which have been kept up with clinical efficiency by modern, independent India.

Suzanne Simard on the networked beauty of forests

From Yale Environment 360: Ecologist Suzanne Simard, now at the University of British Columbia, has pioneered research into how trees communicate. She has shown how trees use a network of soil fungi to convey their needs and aid neighboring plants. Now she’s warning that threats like clear-cutting and climate change could disrupt these critical networks.

When money does grow on trees

The services provided by Nature mostly bypasses markets, escapes pricing and defies valuation. Consider this. A 50-year-old tree provides services like oxygen, water recycling, soil conservation and pollution control worth Rs 23 lakh. Cutting and selling it fetches only Rs 50,000. Yet due to ignorance olf its ecological services, felling a tree seems more profitable.

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