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Strengthening Community Institutions for Sustainable Livelihoods

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Understanding the unparalleled service offered by pollinators in Nature


K
eystone has been working in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR) over the last 21 years (since 1993) with indigenous communities on eco-development initiatives. During the last couple of years, seven thematic areas have taken form, derived from the original idea of a holistic approach to the issues of livelihoods, conservation & enterprise. These areLivelihoodConservationOrganic Market DevelopmentCulture & PeopleEnvironmental GovernanceTraining & Information and Finance & Administration.


Videos
 

Awareness programme on Millet Processing, Hasanur

The Awareness programme on Millet Processing was held on the 16th of March in Thumbithakadu production centre in Hasanur. There were 66 participants present in the workshop and all hailed from various communities across Sathyamangalam area. The awareness programme was organised jointly by ICAR, Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering – Bhopal, Keystone Foundation and Aadhimalai Pazhangudiyinar Producers’ Company Limited in order to bring an general understanding and awareness on millets, millet processing and value addition. Mr Leo gave a welcome note and started the programme. Dr. SJK Annamalai, Principal Scientist & Head gave a general introduction on millets – its benefits and millet processing. This was followed by speeches by Dr. S.D. Deshpande, Principal Scientist, Agricultural Produce Processing Division and – Dr. K.P. Singh, Scientist, Agricultural. Machinery Division, CIAE Bhopal. The participants were told about millet dehulling and threshing and also were given a general introduction on the machines installed at the village production centre. A value addition demonstration on millets was done by Dr. Saraswathy Easwaran, Founder Ramasamy Chinnammal Trust, Coimbatore & Retd. Professor, TNAU. She demonstrated different ways of using millets for making chocolates. Post lunch a demonstration of millet processing machinery was given to the participants by Dr. Dawn C.P. Ambrose, Dr. Ravindra Naik & Dr. S. Balasubramanian – IEP Scientists. The awareness programme was concluded by Mr. Murthy, CEO Aadhimalai. The programme provided a platform to all the villagers to learn about millet processing, millet processing machinery and the importance of a millet diet. Gallery

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Stakeholder workshop on Human-wildlife Interactions, Periyakulam

A stakeholder workshop on Human-wildlife Interactions, the second in the series, was jointly conducted by Keystone Foundation and Nilgiri Natural History Society. The Horticultural College and Research Institute, Periyakulam hosted the workshop on 12 March, 2015. Meeting with Stakeholders The crew from Keystone and NNHS spent a couple of days prior to the workshop, interacting with locals, trying to gain a better understanding of what the ‘on-ground-scenario’ was regarding interactions between Humans and wildlife. Through these interactions we were also able to identify stakeholders and meet with them. Farmers, farm labourers, Forest Department, Local Administration, Veterinary Department, NGO’s and the regional media were the stakeholders who played a important role in influencing the perception and understanding of interactions between humans and wildlife. While most interactions with locals were regarding positive or neutral interactions with wildlife, there were mentions of a few incidents of conflict. Most of these instances concerned Gaur or Wild boar causing damage to crops which were the main source of livelihood, but there were also a few reports of deaths caused by the same animals. Elephants were not reported to be a big problem in this region. The families of the deceased were compensated, there were not too many claims for compensation for instances of crop raiding. An interesting observation in this region was the manner in which compensation claims were filed. Rather than filing their claims directly with the Forest Department, petitions were lodged with the Collectors Citizen Grievance Redressal Cell. VANAM, an environmental NGO working in the region, has played an important role in educating the public about conservation issues and sensitising the media reporting on conservation and conflict related issues. WILDS another NGO has been working closely with the Forest Department and supports them in their work on Joint Forest Management Programmes. An interesting report of conflict from the area came from small fruit growing farmers who had difficulty harvesting Guavas early in the morning because of the presence of Gaur in their fields. These incidents were reported from the Sirumalai region, where guavas are harvested mainly for export purposes. There have been reports of human death from Gaur and Wild Boar encounters. In all these cases some sort of compensation was paid to the families of the deceased. The farmers were also used to chasing away the animals and were not in the habit of submitting claims for compensation. Later we learnt that a number of requests for compensation have been going to the Collectors Citizen Grievance Redressal Cell. Very few complaints have come directly to the forest department , mostly addressed to the Theni Territorial Division (we were shown the compensation register for Meghamalai Sanctuary only 3-4 cases have been registered). The environmental NGO Vanam plays an important role in educating the public about conservation issues and sensitising the media to the reporting on issues related to conservation. WILDS has been doing research in the region for a number of years and also supports the forest department in their work on Joint Forest Management Programs. There were also reports from small fruit growing farmers about the issues they face with relation to early morning harvest of guavas for the export market which is hindered because of the presence of elephants in their farmlands. This was reported mostly from the Sirumalai region. Workshop on Human-wildlife Interactions: The workshop was attended by 40 participants, including members of the Forest Department, Farmers, Students, Local NGO’s as well as members of the regional media. Mr Robert Leo of Keystone Foundation (EC member NNHS) anchored the workshop and moderated the open forum which took place towards the end of the workshop. The workshop was inaugurated by the Dean of HCRI Dr T Balamohan who spoke very effectively on the need for tolerance and the manner in which our perspective towards these interactions could influence our tolerance towards wildlife. This was followed by special addresses by Warden Meghamalai Sanctuary and DFO Theni district who presented some of the pressures being faced by the forest departments in their respective areas regarding incidents of conflict and the nature on interactions between humans and wildlife. The focus of all three speakers was on our perspective towards interactions with wildlife as well as highlighting some of the key issues that could add to conflict, such as encroachment of wildlife habitats and over-utilisation of resources. They also highlighted the contribution of wildlife in promoting diversity and richness of the forests in the area. Abhishek K R of Keystone Foundation made a brief presentation on issues faced during interactions between humans and wildlife and also shared some findings and reflections from the “Pre-empting Conflict: Human-Gaur interactions in Kotagiri” project, as Gaur was a major problem species reported from the area. Discussion during Open Forum: Farmers participating in the workshop aired their major concerns; unexpected presence of wildlife in their farms and areas of work, lack of communication from the forest department regarding incidents of conflict and the manner in which the mechanism of compensation functions. The Forest Department also participated in this discussion and highlighted interesting points to be considered; drastic change in crop patterning and the kind of crops being grown. They attributed the increasing interactions to the cultivation of highly nutritious and palatable crops adjacent to forest lands. Also, the usage of water present inside forest by large orchard owners could tremendously increase the pressure on animals in these forests to come out and forage and seek water. The above two factors coupled with a changing attitudes of people towards wildlife, they believed, added to the rising incidents of conflict in the region. Also, the officials opined it was farmers with large land holdings who petitioned for compensation more than farmers with small land holdings, and changing agricultural practices also contributed directly to forest fires in the region, resulting in additional pressure on the animals in these regions. WILDS, shared some of their findings in the region, indicating that threat to crops like cardamom was greater from pest attacks and diseases rather […]

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Consolidation and devolution of national climate finance – The case of India

National and international finance is increasingly becoming available to address climate change in India, for both mitigation and adaptation. However, the current arrangements for climate finance are dispersed and fragmentary, and lack clear goals and strategies ­ therefore allowing for neither efficiency nor accountability. In this paper, we propose the creation of an Indian National Climate Fund (INCF) to pool climate finance from different national and international sources, and channel it to the State and local levels. The INCF should seek to consolidate without centralisation, and to devolve decision-making on the use of climate finance to local governments in keeping with India’s 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments. In addition to defining a common vision and principles for climate finance in India, it should aim for coherence with national development goals strategies, and integration across sectors; distributive justice, to ensure that climate finance reaches those who need it most, and that their needs are prioritised; and a balance between different thematic areas (such as mitigation, adaptation, capacity building etc). It should also review progress continuously, and make mid-course corrections where necessary. Read the Full Paper

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Report from Biofach Nuremberg, 2015

Mathew was at Biofach Nuremberg this month – the biggest organic fair in the world takes place every year in Germany and attracts thousands of visitors to meet processors and traders from all parts of the globe. This year was no less. Importantly, the signing of the contract for the next Organic World Congress in 2017, was signed between IFOAM (www.ifoam.bio) and OFAI (www.ofai.org). Just after Biofach, the IFOAM World Board also met on the 14th & 15th of Feb – this meeting was a change as a day was kept aside to hold a workshop on various issues concerning IFOAM rather than just a decision making space. All credit to Frank Eyhorn and Matthew Holmes for organizing and keeping us focussed.

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Stakeholder Workshop on Human Wildlife Conflict

Given the trend of increase in interactions between Humans and Wildlife, it has become crucial to understand the point at which these interactions become conflict. Keystone Foundation, has been working on Human Wildlife Conflicts over the past year, and is planning on conducting a series of stakeholder workshops across the Western Ghats in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, to better understand the problem(s) as well as to provide a platform where different stakeholders would be able to express their views and concerns regarding the current trend of wildlife interactions. Representatives of farmer groups, local administration, and the forest department participated in the 3-hour long workshop. The tone for discussion of the workshop was set by Mr Pramod Krishnan, IFS, Conservator of Forests (Northern Circle), who delivered the keynote address, highlighting the importance and need for better engaging with and understanding the multiple dimensions of conflict. He also called for sharing of knowledge and opinions between various stakeholders, to increase co-operation and collaboration between them; as he believed a collaborative effort is required to better handle human wildlife conflict. The workshop featured a presentation by Sumin George, identifying certain key areas influencing our perception and understanding of Conflict. The presentation was followed by an open forum, where farmers, representatives of local administration, residents and representatives from the forest department, shared and discussed issues key to handling human wildlife conflict in the region. All stakeholders present had a chance to share their grievances as well as ideas as to how conflict could be avoided. It was a good start to a dialogue between the stakeholders of the Wayanad region! Some of the major outcomes of this workshop: 1. Increased understanding between Forest Department and and the farmer groups: Greater clarity in understanding how compensation mechanisms work, availability of information concerning the rates fixed by Central Government, in the context of amount of compensation paid. The Audience also lauded the Forest Department for being more approachable, friendly and prompt when it came to dealing with conflict situations. 2. Need for for Stronger Mitigation Measures: Representatives from the local administration, farmers, and residents urged the Forest Department to implement stronger mitigation measures to prevent the increasing number of instances of Human Wildlife Conflict. Erecting a stonewall along the boundary of the forest, was an idea that garnered a lot of support. 3. Greater Collaboration Required: Representatives from the Forest Department, expressed the need for the local administration to become an active participant in dealing with conflict situations. While the Forest Department believed it might not be possible for the local administration to actively manage Human Wildlife Conflict, they were of the opinion that better planning, and more efficient waste management could also help mitigate conflict. Gallery

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Barefoot Ecology Monitoring Workshop

Keystone has been promoting the concept of barefoot ecology in the region for some years now. Since 2012 we trained a team of 9 people from forest villages in ecological assesments which used a combination of ecological and social methods to record changes to their environment. After a year of information gathering the results were shared with various groups at the village level. We were keen to share the results and method to the forest department so a meeting was organised jointly by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department and Keystone Foundation in Coimbatore at the Tamil Nadu Forest Academy on the 31st of January 2015. Conservator of Forests Mr. Anwardeen IFS played an active role in organising the workshop. Around 60 staff of the department, senior officers from Erode, Sathyamangalam, Nilgiris and Coimbatore along with Range officers were present. Anita Varghese made a presentation on the methods and presented some of the results. A team of Barefoot ecologists Sanjeev Kumar from Chokkanalli, Kavita from Korapathy, Velaiyan from Kadamankombei, Sivanna from Srinivasapur -talked freely and confidently about their work of the past year to the audience. They received many questions and also displayed their results in the room. People had a chance to interact with them one to one about their work. The meeting was a success since the forest department appreciated the work of Keystone Foundation and were praise for the ‘quiet conservation approach’ which we have adopted as against the sensationalising conservation that was more in the news (Conservator’s comments). The department is keen to take up this work in each of their divisions and has requested Keystone to take up the training immediately. Follow up work is being undertaken. The meeting was attended by Shiny, Sumin, Abishekh, Aradukuttan, Archana, Poornima and Mahadesh from Keystone. Other invitees were Drs Bhaskar Acharya, and Siddappa Setty from ATREE. Dr Kumara H from SACON and Bharatidasan from Arulagam  was also present along with representatives from WWF India. K.R. Abhishek welcomed the group and Shiny Miriam Rehel proposed a vote of thanks. The two hour meeting was refreshing and invigorating. We met a number of trainee forest officers who in their student days were attached to our projects and had received much training from us. It was indeed good to connect with them and we hope to work closely with all of them. We also took the opportunity to announce that Keystone Foundation is keen to start the field ecology school and will start the field botany course this year in April for the forest department. The workshop is funded by CEPF-ATREE Western Ghats Program. Gallery

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Grievance redressal and FRA workshop at Keystone

Keystone hosted a two days national workshop (5th and 6th January 2015) on grievance redressal and awareness on the The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, also known as the FRA part of the gender and human rights programme. As part of the workshop participants from nine organisation across the country, such as, VRDS  from Cuddappa, Sakhi from Bellari,  Sanjeevini , Adivasimitra, Sujana, Velugu Association and GVS from Vishakhapatnam, Marg Darshak from Chattisgarh and Prithvi from Panna, Madhya Pradesh. Along with Keystone, Bhaanumathi from Dhaatri, Vishakhapatnam and Rahul Choudhary from Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE) partner for the same project were present for the workshop which spoke of mainly the Right to Information act (RTI) and the National Green Tribunal (NGT), two main acts support the accessibility of information and the redressal of environmental issues respectively in a big way. The FRA workshop too clarified many doubts and opened up options to tackle the issues related to forest rights amongst all the organisations present there. The workshop provided a platform for all the organisation working for the Gender and Human Rights project to congregate, share experiences and learn from each other.  It was successfully concluded with the all the participants having enjoyed the whole stay and learning.

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Community Meet of the India Biodiversity Portal

The India Biodiversity Portal is a unique example in India of a community driven portal that is owned by a group of institutions and that has over 5000 users of which over 600 are active contributors and participants on the portal. The portal exists to enable free (as in freedom) and open access to biodiversity information on the country to everyone. Keystone has been a regular contributor to the portal and has actively supported the many initiatives of the portal such as campaigns, bioblitz etc. The portal was being managed by ATREE, Strand and French Institute Pondicherry over the years and in 2013 a consortium model was chosen to broad base the ownership of the community in the portal. At present there are 19 institutions that are members of the IBP consortium, including Keystone. On 12th December 2014, the annual meeting of the consortium took place at KFRI, Peechi, Kerala. This was the first meeting of the consortium after the new constitution was adopted. Balachander and Poornima attended the meet from Keystone. There was intense discussion on various aspects of the portal including financial sustainability, development paths etc. The next day was an open community meet where for the first time, many of the contributors to and users of the portal met face to face after months and years of interacting online. It was inspiring to see people from various parts of the country and with different backgrounds (researchers, amateurs, lay people, children etc.) all united by a common vision of openly sharing biodiversity information. From the enthusiasm and openness we could see at the community meet, it is certain that the portal will grow by leaps and bounds in the years to come!

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PGS Workshop for Adivasi farmers

The Participatory guarantee system (PGS) workshop was held on the 4th of December in keystone campus. There were around 50 members present  in the workshop and all hailed from various farmers groups across our working areas in The Nilgiris. The workshop was organised by the livelihoods team in order to bring an understanding of the concept of organic agriculture and the benefits of being certified by PGS. It was conducted mainly by Mr Samraj and Mr. Robert Leo, both have expertise in PGS. The members were told about their traditional methods of agriculture , how it had a positive impact on their health and how at the present scenario due to chemicals and pesticides the overall health is depleting. They were also intimated about the growing awareness and demand of organic products in the market and if they cultivate organically and become certified by PGS how they are likely to get better price for their produce.  The process of being certified without a third party but by a participatory method was also explained to them.The response from the farmers was promising as most of them seemed determined to start organic agriculture and those who already have, planned on being certified by the PGS.  

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Keystone Foundation
Keystone Centre, PB 35
Groves Hill RoadKotagiri 643 217
Nilgiris District, Tamil Nadu India

Telefaxes: +91 (04266) 272277, 272977, 275297
Email: kf at keystone-foundation dot org

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