Friday, November 25, 2016

Forest-Community Interface – A new lecture series under Sanskriti Anveshak

VKIC has started a new lecture series on ‘Forest-Community Interface’ considering its relevance to North East India. Sanskriti Anveshak is a platform of VKIC that provides scope for intellectual discussion and research focussing primarily on traditional culture of indigenous communities of this region. The first lecture was on November 25, 2016, on “Climate Change: Forests and Forest Communities” and for this curtain raising lecture VKIC invited Dr. Alka Bharagva IFS, Additional Chief Conservator of Forests, Govt of Assam. Dr. Pradip Sharma, Associate Professor, Dept. of Geography, Cotton College moderated the session.

According to the speaker both rainfall and temperature across Assam are likely to be affected by Climate Change, which will impact the dependent Forest Communities in particular. The mean temperature may see a rise of around 2 degree Celsius based on present day computer projections. 

Pointing to the emerging concerns in the largely agrarian economy of North East India, she pointed out that increasing area under moderately dense forests and open forests especially in the hilly areas adjoining Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Meghalaya will contribute to loss in biodiversity. Dependence on fuelwood, mining, logging, and urbanization, encroachment, higher frequency of jhum cultivation etc. are some of the factors leading to serious degradation of forests of the region. She added that projected warmer and wetter climate is indicative of “minimal changes in vegetation types” in Assam.

On Assam, Dr Bhargava also identified some of key interventions to make Majuli’s land and people environmentally more secure as: shelterbelt plantations on reclaimed and vulnerable land, Green buildings (e.g. bamboo based), cultural and ecotourism, E-transport, communication and awareness campaigns and plantations.

The senior forest official provided information on the plan to make Majuli in Assam become the country’s first Carbon Neutral District. The plan involved greater stake for local communities in forest management and benefit sharing. Apart from protecting the largest river island of the world, the objectives also include putting more emphasis on environment-friendly agricultural practices. When completed, the project will result in a range of benefits, which will ensure positive outcomes both for local communities and biodiversity.