WWF-India urges tourists traveling to the Himalayas to go green!

WWF- India’s Green Hiker campaign launched

New Delhi: In its efforts to encourage responsible tourism in the Himalayas, the World Wide Fund for Nature- India launched its Green Hiker Campaign today in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. The campaign aims at raising awareness about the vulnerability of the Himalayan ecosystem, by encouraging tourists and tour operators to adopt responsible practices towards reducing the impact of tourism on this fragile ecosystem. The campaign stands on the positive, direct message of Nature leaves a mark on you, don’t leave one behind. The campaign corresponds with the tourist season in the Himalayas and links with the Incredible India initiative of the Ministry of Tourism.

WWF's Green Hiker Campaign launched in Delhi by Mr. Sujit Banerjee, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism (3rd from left) - © Anil Cherukupalli/WWF-India

The launch saw the participation of various officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India in addition to many other organizations and individuals. Arjun Vajpai, the youngest Indian to conquer Mount Everest at the age of 16 was also present to lend his support for this campaign. He also shared the overwhelming experience of his recent expedition and the importance of being a responsible hiker.

Mr. Maninder Singh Kohli, veteran Himalayan hiker, presented a short account of his experiences in the Himalayas, the problems and possible solutions. A Green Hiker Animation Film targeting the tourists and service providers in the industry and encouraging them to watch their footprint was released and screened at the launch.

Mr. Sujit Banerjee, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, while launching the campaign said, “…The Himalayas are the pride of our nation. The Ministry of Tourism is glad to support this campaign, since the conservation of the majestic Himalayan ecosystem is a common goal which we have to achieve together. It is important that we start now ….”

On the occasion, Mr. Ravi Singh, Secretary General & CEO, WWF-India said, “Irresponsible tourism is increasingly rendering the high altitude regions and its fragile wetlands vulnerable. Appropriate mechanisms need to be put in place so that tourism can carry on without negative consequences on this ecosystem. The impact of travel in the Himalayan region needs to be dealt with by the travelers themselves. They should be both responsible practitioners and delivery mechanisms of the conservation message. The Himalayas need our care and protection.”


Plan to link Dudhwa Reserve with other forest areas

For the conservation of tigers, the state Forest department and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-India) plan to connect the forest area of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve with the adjoining forest areas. At present, a survey is being conducted to assess the possibility of a corridor linking Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, Kishanpur Sanctuary and Katerniaghat Wildlife Reserve.

The step is being taken to facilitate easy movement of the big cat from one forest area to another in order to avoid problems of inbreeding among the tiger population. “Though no such case has been reported yet, but we are conducting the survey as our long term goal is to prevent any such problems in the future,” said Harish Guleria, Landscape Coordinator of Terai Arc Landscape (WWF-India).

“We are assessing the feasibility of the creation of the corridors between Dudhwa and its adjoining forest areas. However, the survey work is yet to be completed,” said B K Patnaik, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest of Uttar Pradesh. The corridor area being assessed is the 11-km stretch from Sathiana to Palia range connecting Dudhwa Tiger Reserve to Kishanpur Sanctuary. Similarly, around 14 km of land area along Kaudiyala river in Mohana range — connecting Dudhwa and Katerniaghat Sanctuary — is also being surveyed.

“The Dudhwa Tiger Reserve is not linked with nearby forest areas and this restricts the movement of animals. The survey, which will be completed in the next five months, will show whether the corridor will be feasible for the movement of the animals,” said Guleria.

Details like the present and earlier status of the area, nature of adjoining areas, land use pattern and animals movement between the areas will be taken into account.

From Indian Express

Campaign launched for responsible tourism in Himalayas

Seeking to encourage tour operators and tourists to adopt better practices for disposal of waste in the Himalayas and protect the fragile ecosystem, the World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India) Friday launched the Green Hiker campaign here.

‘Irresponsible tourism is increasingly rendering the high altitude regions and the fragile wetlands of the Himalayas vulnerable. The impact of travel in the Himalayan region needs to be dealt with by the travellers themselves,’ said Ravi Singh, secretary general and chief executive officer, WWF-India.

The campaign, which will cover the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh, aims to reach out to tour operators and tourists and encourage them to adopt responsible practices towards reducing the impact of tourism on the fragile ecosystem of the Himalayas.

Thus, it has been timed with the peak tourist season in the Himalayas.

Maninder Singh Kohli, a veteran hiker, said: ‘In my last five years of trekking I have seen the situation in the Himalayas degrading constantly. Although tourists litter the place, the worst offenders are the pilgrims who just don’t care at all.’

Arjun Vajpai, 16, the youngest Indian to conquer Mount Everest, has also been roped in for the campaign. He said: ‘Climbers should be properly trained in waste disposal by the government. More importantly, the number of people climbing the peak should be curtailed.’

As part of the campaign, an animation film on responsible tourism will be screened in airports, hotels, coffee houses, book shops and restaurants. Posters, bookmarks and post cards will also be distributed.

Workshops will also be conducted for tour operators, Contact WWF-India.

From Sify

WWF-India meet in Kerala on responsible wood trade and forest certification

WWF- India in association with the Malabar Chamber of Commerce hosted the global multi stakeholder meet on responsible wood trade and forest certification here on Thursday.

The conference is aimed at understanding the various approaches for responsible wood trade.

The conference saw the participation of SME’s across India, international experts on wood trade and certification, wood processors, forest and plantation managers, farm forestry/agro forestry growers, timber traders, paper and pulp companies, retailers dealing with wood and non-wood forest products, NGOs, certification bodies, financial institutions, builders, architects and relevant government agencies.

Business to business meetings were also conducted amongst the companies committed to promote responsible wood trade and credible forest certification.

WWF-India is a partner in implementing the project “Sustainable and Responsible Trade Promoted to Wood Processing SMEs through Forest and Trade Networks in China, India and Vietnam” with the support of the European Commission.

A major objective of this project in India is to build capacity among SMEs in wood processing sectors of Kerala, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh towards providing certified sustainable forest products to national and international markets. By Juhan Samuel (ANI)

From Sify

WWF welcomes landmark Norway, Indonesia agreement on deforestation

Oslo, Norway – WWF welcomed Wednesday’s announcement that Norway will provide USD 1 billion to support Indonesia’s efforts to reduce emissions caused by deforestation in that country.

Loggers clearing a swamp forest for a palm oil plantation. Central Kalimantan (Borneo), Indonesia. Norway will provide USD 1 billion to support Indonesia’s efforts to reduce emissions caused by deforestation in that country. © WWF-Canon / Alain COMPOST

The two governments agreed Wednesday to enter into a partnership to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) in Indonesia’s forests and peat lands.

The announcement came as more than 30 governments today meet to discuss a first-time partnership at the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference to advance REDD+ activities this year.

“This partnership is a key step in developing a workable framework for reducing emissions from deforestation in Indonesia,” said Fitrian Ardiansyah, Climate and Energy Program Director of WWF-Indonesia, “The Indonesian President’s announcement to put a break in releasing new permits to convert peat land also provides new opportunities for further reduction of emissions and this will move the partnership of the two countries closer to achieving the goal.”

“Indonesia’s agreement with Norway to big reductions in deforestation is a groundbreaking achievement in the work to combat climate change,”said Rasmus Hansson, CEO of WWF-Norway,“This commitment to halting destructive forest and land use by one of the world’s key forest countries promises to directly limit global CO2 emissions.”

For real climate benefits to be realized, this agreement needs to be followed up by implementing specific work plans in developing countries, including in Indonesia, that formalize REDD+ implementation and ensure that these activities contain the proper governance for REDD+ and safeguards for indigenous peoples and biodiversity, according to WWF.

“This agreement sets an inspiring example of responsible climate cooperation between developing and industrialised nations,” said Hansson, “To WWF, it is of particular importance that the partners recognise that forest conservation is about much more than CO2 emissions. Safeguarding ecosystems, biodiversity and indigenous peoples’ livelihoods is an absolute prerequisite for making this work – and obviously a crucial benefit in itself.”

According to the Norwegian government, as part of the partnership funds will initially be devoted to finalizing Indonesia’s climate and forest strategy, building and institutionalizing capacity to monitor, report and verify reduced emissions, and putting in place enabling policies and institutional reforms, according to the Norwegian government. A two-year suspension on new concessions on conversion of natural forests and peat lands into plantations also will be implemented as part of the agreement.

By 2014, the plan is to move to an Indonesian-wide instrument of funding contributions in return for verified emission reductions, the government said in a press release. Funds will be managed by an internationally reputable financial institution according to international fiduciary, governance, environmental and social standards.

From WWF

Sighting beautiful Asiatic ibex

Ibex crossing the nullah - © Aishwaraya Maheshwari/WWF-India


WWF-India: Change through education

The ongoing journey of Pardi children joining mainstream society

Pardis are a nomadic tribe of Central India who are traditional hunters and make a living by killing wild animals. They are thought to be behind many poaching incidents in and around Madhya Pradesh’s Panna Tiger Reserve (TR) in the recent past. WWF-India has supported Panna since 2003 when winter jackets were distributed among the staff. This has continued in the form of small support like wireless handsets, solar panels, remote surveillance systems as well as large support in the from of a tractor, truck and recently, vehicles. Along with this support, rehabilitation of Pardis into mainstream society is critical for the survival of wildlife not only in Madhya Pradesh but also in many other parks across the nation. WWF-India has been closely working with Government agencies to provide education to children of Pardis.

WWF-India is engaging communities around tiger reserves in Central India, through education.© Ameen Ahmed/WWF-India

Engaging Pardhi children:
Two batches of ‘Residential Bridge Courses’ (RBC) are being currently conducted in association with the State Forest Department under the Government supported ‘Sarva Shiksha Abyiyaan’ (‘Education for all’ scheme). By completing a 9-month bridge course, the kids are enrolled into formal education. For example, after completion of the first RBC started in November 2007 by the Forest Department, sixty four boys and forty four girls were admitted to Grade 1, 2 and 3 classes in the tribal schools at Dhangad and Indrapuri colony respectively, in Panna District. This was done on the basis of individual assessment of these students.

Inderbhan Singh Bundela has been working with WWF-India for these kids around Panna TR since August 2008. According to him, “Three batches have been enrolled at the Pardhi School in three years. There are about thirteen girls and fifteen boys in the second course which is currently running. While the first two batches were mainly from Panna District, the third one is from Katni. The children’s age is between eight to fourteen years and in some cases there are even six-year olds”. He says, he is very attached to these kids and their innocence makes one ask if these people really poach wildlife. He further adds “It’s a question of motivation and once they are guided in the right direction, they should be as good a people as any other in the society.”

Concerted efforts are being made to build capacity as well as sensitise the teachers and care takers at the schools for Pardi kids. The knowledge these kids have on their natural surroundings is also being recognized and acknowledged through workshops in Panna TR.

Eyewitness accounts:
Here are stories of two Pardhi children whose lives have changed due to the above interventions.

Bamina: “I like it here in the school’’© Diwakar Sharma/WWF-India

Bamina, Nine years
(She is from the 1st Batch of RBC)
“My name is Bamina. My father’s name is Daryami. I’ve done the nine-month Residential Bridge Course (RBC). I’ve been studying in the school in Kunjwan for the past 2 years. Before I started schooling I used to stay at home though I never liked that. My father and mother used to roam around a lot to provide us food. Even then, we had to go hungry many a time. Sometimes, we even had to stay back in jungles. But that has changed now. I like it here in school. We play a lot of games and also study. I’m learning many new things. My three brothers study at Dhanghad. I’ve three elder sisters who are not in school.”

“I now ask my parents not to hunt. They used to hunt wildlife like tigers, birds and wild boars. Now, my friends and I are educating them about the importance of not hunting wild animals. They now sell Kesar.”

Chiranga, Eleven years, 3rd Batch of RBC
“My name is Chiranga. My father’s name is Parwat Singh. Before I started going to the government school I lived with my family and helped my mother in cooking. I’ve three sisters and three brothers. When I was brought to school for the first time, unlike the other children I never cried. I lived in the school for two months.”

“My father used to shoot wild boar earlier. Members of my family used to hunt tigers and partridges. But now they no longer hunt. My mother now sells ‘manihari’ (traditional cosmetics) like bindis, kumkum and traditional medicines, while my father sells ‘rudraksha’ beads (talismans).”

A story of change for good
According to Dr. Diwakar Sharma, Associate Director of WWF-India’s Species Programme, it took 2 years of continuous encouragement to get Chiranga into school. He says “After her, many more children came forward and joined the school. Once they join the school they do not want to return to their old lifestyle that was filled with hardship and poverty. They are now filled with a desire to learn, succeed and get out of the vicious cycle of poverty that has crippled the lives of their parents. The children joining schools has also led to many of their parents giving up hunting of wild animals thereby aiding wildlife conservation. Success stories like those of Bamina and Chiranga are being used to inspire more Pardi children and families to give education a chance.”

Says, Mita Goswami, Director, Environment Education, WWF-India, “These children are bright and energetic. I am amazed at their aptitude to learn. They are a treasure trove of information on our wildlife. During the nature walk we had with them, we were pleasantly taken aback by the wealth of knowledge they had on nature; from insects to trees and birds to mammals.”

Sangita Saxena, State Director, WWF-India, M.P. & Chhattisgarh State, informs that the project is aimed at developing Pardhi children educationally, socially, culturally and economically, in order to make them forgo their traditional livelihood. She says, “They have an inborn quality to learn fast apart from hunting skills. When they grow up their in-depth knowledge about wild flora and fauna can develop them into excellent nature guides, nature interpreters or researchers. Their skills can also be utilised in law & order services, sports and in the entertainment world as they are also good at dance, folk singing and artisanship. These legally sustainable vocations will convince their parents to lead a settled life.” She adds, “WWF-India is planning to support similar initiatives in Katni, Itarsi and Seoni districts of Madhya Pradesh. A reformed life for children of hunter communities is our Motto.”

Children like these need a chance to change their lives for the better. And WWF-India along with the Madhya Pradesh Government agencies like Forest Department is helping them do it through creative engagement and formal education. By turning the children of Pardis away from hunting, we are giving our nation’s wildlife a good chance to flourish.