Globally, traditional communities control 24 per cent of wild lands and 60 per cent of unprotected wilderness.
Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is going to sponsor the World Wilderness Congress in Jaipur between 19 and 26 March. The BMC cleared a proposal of Rs 5 crore for the event, where it would be putting up an exhibition, during this week’s standing committee meeting.
The event would bring together forest communities across the country on a common platform as well as influential people from business, finance, academia, science and the arts.
“The exhibition would include 5,200 square foot stall showcasing Mumbai’s wildlife, tree-cover and marine life. This would be later dismantled and put up in interpretation centre of Byculla zoo,” said a BMC official.
International wildlife experts have been stressing on the importance of indigenous communities as new conservation solutions simultaneously address the needs of local people.
“Globally, traditional communities control 24 per cent of wild lands and 60 per cent of unprotected wilderness. Development authorities call these people stakeholders, but they are stewards of the wilderness, which is their homeland. The conservation movement needs to note that the traditional communities also have the common goal of saving the wilderness,” said Vance Martin, president, US-based WILD Foundation and founder, Wilderness Specialist Group.
Indigenous communities including the Meena and Bishnoi tribes from Rajasthan, the Adi tribe from the north-east, and the Soliga tribe from Karnataka will be present at the conference among others.
While there has been speculation over the impact of farming by tribal communities on the natural ecosystem of forests, experts highlighted how these communities have helped restore the cumulative benefits of forest areas i.e. addressing climate change, enhancing biodiversity, saving water and providing livelihoods through eco-tourism.
“India has destroyed a vast part of its natural landscape, but this cannot simply be blamed on tribals. Industrial damage, development of poorly aligned roads and dams have contributed largely to ecological destruction. By rewilding India over the next three decades, we could create opportunities for 15 to 30 million jobs and livelihoods to restore the land, bring biodiversity back, reduce floods and droughts and bringing carbon down from the atmosphere. WILD11 is trying to recreate the harmony between people and the land, including referencing cities,” said Bittu Sahgal, Founder, Sanctuary Nature Foundation.