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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
 

Training of Range officers from TNFA

Keystone model of eco-development- a topic of hot discussion with Range Officer Trainees of Tamil Nadu Forest Academy. On May 20th 2015 Keystone Foundation was invited to give a guest lecture cum practical exposure to eco-development by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department at he Hasanur Keystone Resource Center at Sathyamangalam. Robert Leo welcomed the group of 40 trainees and their senior co-ordinator Shri Chandrasekaran. After which Anita Varghese gave a 15 minute talk on eco development followed by the screening of a short clip from the honey hunting film. This was followed by a barrage of questions from the trainees which was responded to by Leo, Anita and Sumin. Some of the questions were on the issues of sustainable management of forest resources, importantly on what criteria can we make these decisions. There was an interest to know about each one of Keystone’s activities and the functioning of an NGO. This was the first visit to an NGO for the trainees and they were a very keen and observant batch. Following the interaction they were taken around to see the production center by Moorthy Sir, Rangasamy, Rajamma, Chitra and other production staff of Aadhimalai Producer company. The products on display were a huge attraction for the trainees as were the value addition machinery and processes. We are certain that the visit has had an impact on the batch and they will remember how forests, indigenous people, traditional knowledge and value addition are interlinked for eco development activities.

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Nilgiri Field Learning Centre, 2015

A collaboration between Keystone Foundation, Kotagiri and Cornell University, Ithaca, USA. 12 students graduated from NFLC yesterday from Cornell, USA along with five from Adivasi communities of Irula and Kurumba in Nilgiris. Collector P. Shankar, IAS gave the certificates to the first batch and heard presentations from students on: Infant feeding, exploring Kurumba health perspectives, dietary diversity, forest rights act and waste and water. NFLC is a 15 weeks spring semester course where Cornell and Indigenous students undertake an unique journey of transformative education through practice, classes, field visits. Designed to create in a multi-cultural setting: international, national approaches, interactions create possibilities of fresh, new insights and local, global perspectives. Gallery

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Neighborhood Trees Campaign 2015, Saravanmalai

As a part of the Earth Day Celebration and Neighborhood Trees Campaign (Organised by India Biodiversity Portal), NNHS & Keystone Foundation organised a shola trail led by Shiny Rehel on 19 April 2015. The trail started at Attadi Junction and went upto saravanamalai formerly known as Tenerife. 13 enthusiastic participants walked through tea estates, plantations and shola forest. Acacia, Casuarina, Cupress and Pine were the trees commonly observed in plantations. This was a trail where the plantation was more dominant than the shola forest; but shola trees were seen in a small patch and along the plantation. The shola trees observed were  Gardneria ovata, Vaccinium leschenaultii seen along the border, Litsea spp., Schefflera capitata, Ternstroemia japonica, Turpinia cochinchinensis, Rhododendron arboreum subsp. nilagiricum and  Litsea spp. Gallery

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FREE/DEM Initiative Project

Radio Kotagiri has got the project on FREE/DEM initiative from Indeosync Media Combine based on Delhi. The project is about democracy, local governance, transparency, accountability and Right to Information Act. The FREE/DEM institute gives an opportunity to think about some of the issues about democracy and reflect on how community radio could engage with these subjects with local people. Community Radio will work on mentioned topics with first time voters in schools and colleges in Kotagiri about different topics. Radio jockeys from Radio Kotagiri 90.4 FM have attended regional FREE/DEM trainings in Hyderabad and Haryana organized by Ideosync Media Combine. Through this project we have committed to do the survey with first time voters and interviews of government officials about democracy, election process, Panchayatraj, awareness of laws and participations. We have committed to complete the project within three months starts from May 2015, and submits all the relevance documents to the Ideosync media combine. This project will give an opportunity to learn and give awareness about democracy on first time voters.  

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Board of Trustees meet in Sathyamangalam

The Keystone Foundation BoT Rev.P.K. Mulley, Ms. Meena Gupta IAS and Dr Suprava Patnaik were taken on a field visit to Sathyamangalam area. Sneh, Pratim, Mathew, Leo, Moorthy, Sumin and Anita accompanied them. We stayed at the comfortable and basic Bush and Bull Resorts at Hasanur and after lunch moved to the Aadhimalai/Thumbithakadu Production center at Hasanur. The Trustees were taken on a tour of the center where they got to see the honey and other value added products being prepared and packaged. The newly installed millet processing machinery was on display and Leo explained the role of ICAER scientists in getting these out to us. Following the tour Moorthy Sir and the local team organised an interaction with members of the producer company, ntfp harvesters, and farmers. One of the topics of much deliberation was the impact of the area being declared a Tiger Reserve and its implications for livelihoods of the local residents. The trustees were also interested in knowing in more detail the profit sharing mechanism and the role of members in the Producer Company. Later that same evening we traveled to Geddesal village, stopping briefly at the Eucalyptus plantations to view the Apis dorsata hives. The visit to the village was cut short by a sudden downpour, we had time only to walk around the village and the meeting with the village people was interrupted by the sudden rain. Back at Bush and Bull, Moorthy Sir made a comprehensive presentation on the formation, working and future plans of the Aadhimalai Producer Company. The questions on sustainability of the company and equity sharing were the topics of discussion. We returned early the next morning to resume our presentations to the Trustees at Kotagiri where trustees Somnath Sen and Rita Banerji also joined in. In Kotagiri, there was presentations by all programmes and feedback from Trustees on them. Later on organisational restructuring was approved. On the final day the Trustees had a small interaction with the students from the Nilgiri Field Learning Centre.

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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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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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