Strengthening linkages

Discussions on Forest Rights at a Gram Sabha

Putting information to work for better interventions

K
eystone has been working in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR) over the last 20 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.


 

Doddu Habba Celebrations

As part of the International Day ofthe World Indigenous Peoples this year, Keystone Foundation hosted a two-day festival called DodduHabba or the Gaur Festival on 8th and 9th of August 2014 in the Nilgiris in Kotagiri. On day one, the Gaur Festival was inaugurated by the District Revenue Officer Mr….. followed by an introduction to the theme of the festival by Robert Leo, Deputy Director, Keystone Foundation. Day two saw the inauguration of World Indigenous Peoples Day by Mr Srinivasa Reddy, Project Director, Hill Area Development Programme – Nilgiris. The idea of a Gaur Festival was conceived from our admiration for this wild animal, with which many of us have had frequent close encounters, here in the Nilgiris. Doddu Habba will celebrate the Gaur, not only as a wild animal, but also as a symbolic representation of our co-existence with Nature.The motive behind the festival was to spread awareness on tolerance towards wildlife among the local populace. There was also traditional culinary food from the Nilgiris. The two-day festival brought together artists, musicians, theatre artists and storytellers from the Nilgiris, Kerala, Odisha and North East India. A display titled ‘Get to know the Gaur’ shared information on the distribution of Gaur in the Nilgiris and the country and on how to deal with situation of encounter with the animal in towns and around.Some of the groups that performed were the  indigenous people of the Nilgiris such as the Todas, Irulas and Kurumbas, the Acoustic Traditional from Darjeeling, Karinthalakkoottam and Oorali from Trichur, and Kaananam from Attapadi. The Muramkulukki Shaman from Peechi forests with his ritual was one of the rare performances staged in the gathering. Funding support for the festival and the Gaur information displays at the event were offered by the Hill Area Development Programme – Nilgiris, Wildlife Trust of India, CAF India and the RuffordFoundation. The festival was a free public event and over 500 people participated, including local people, school and college children. Over 200 people from 10 indigenous communities across the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve were a part of this celebration. Gallery Day 1 | Gallery Day 2

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Mixing science and traditional knowledge in forestry

Mixing science and traditional knowledge in forestry By Joel Winston Local knowledge mixed with scientific enquiry lets indigenous community enterprises profit from forests, reports Joel Winston. Spanning over 650 million hectares globally and boasting plentiful resources, community-run forests provide important income for 400 million indigenous people who generate up to US$100 billion annually, according to a recent report by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). [1] They provide a variety of opportunities and products, from fruits to herbal medicines, but to make the most of what they have to offer some communities are now combining their traditional practices with new technologies. So how can Community Forest Enterprises (CFEs) best mix modern scientific practices and indigenous knowledge so they thrive as sustainable alternatives to private and government-owned logging companies? Indigenous brain drain The Keystone Foundation works with indigenous communities in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, India. The Foundation started by supporting honey gatherers, but soon expanded to other forest products including coffee, spices and grains. T Balachander, Keystone’s programme coordinator, says one problem is that indigenous people are leaving the forests, both to find urban employment and because of government forest control — amenities, salaries and development opportunities are better for those who move out of the forests. “Indigenous knowledge is lost because people’s connections with forests have been systematically reduced,” explains Balachander. “So not everyone necessarily knows all the sustainable harvest practices. We realised we needed to work on reviving knowledge.” “The idea is to ask ‘what is the technology that can work there?’, and then develop it appropriately, using relevant ideas and locally-available materials.” T Balachander, Keystone Foundation The first stage in reviving traditional knowledge, he suggests, is working with neighbouring communities to share teachings. “But when we find that there’s a gap, then we try and plug in other world views and bring in scientific methods,” says Balachander. Scientific approach For example, Keystone and their communities have scientifically analysed methods for extracting resins from trees, examining how different incisions and timings affect harvests. And for honey harvesting, which involves hanging by rope ladders from cliffs surrounded by thousands of bees, communities tested methods that leave some colonies untouched, to ensure a sustainable supply. Ensuring sustainability is a common theme for many CFEs, and the IIED report on investing in locally controlled forestry shows how community forests help slow deforestation, protect biodiversity, and could be an important tool for mitigating climate change. Keystone’s efforts to integrate new knowledge into traditional practices may also make indigenous communities more resilient to climate change. “People are finding that the old harvesting methods no longer work,” says Balachander. “Changes in rainfall affect plant flowering and the anticipated readiness of a honeycomb for harvest. So the things we assume as constant are now changing, and it becomes important to review and reflect.” Beyond the harvest Efforts to modernise community forest enterprises are also applying knowledge and technologies to the manufacturing, processing, and marketing processes. The Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) Exchange Programme for South and Southeast Asia operates in Cambodia, Indonesia,  Malaysia and the Philippines. Working with indigenous communities that manufacture textiles, it uses the latest market research to add value to CFE resources, for example suggesting new products such as notebooks, bags and tablecloths that appeal widely on an international market. The programme has also introduced new manufacturing technologies, including looms that provide easier, faster and finer weaving. And sometimes new manufacturing technologies have even revived traditional processes. Dying and drying “Years before, communities would produce natural dyes for their products, but they soon forgot how to do this once chemical dyes became more well-known,” says Ruth Canlas, an NTFP facilitator. Canlas and her colleagues worked with the government’s Department of Science and Technology in the Philippines to develop a new formula for natural dyes, and reintroduced this to communities. “Because it’s natural, it’s very easy for them to find the resources to manufacture it, for example, from guava leaves, or even the bark of trees.” For Keystone’s communities in India, post-harvest drying urgently needed modernisation. Many perishable forest products, including fruits, are traditionally sun-dried in the open, often leading to contamination and lost quality and value. However, modern drying machines were clearly not suitable. “Half of technology is the people that use it,” explains Balachander. “If you have a fancy machine that nobody knows how to operate, then it won’t be used. And if you bring in a machine that requires a three-phase electricity connection, flowing water, or needs to be carried by vehicle, then it won’t even get there in the first place.” So Keystone needed a local solution. Working with the communities, they designed and built ‘solar rooms’ with roofs made from semi-transparent plastic greenhouse sheets sourced from a local town. Good air circulation meant the building was capable of drying up to twenty tonnes of gooseberries a year. That volume opened up opportunities for more products using preserved gooseberries, increasing the value of products between three- and eight-fold. Balachander believes that introducing new technologies into indigenous communities needs care, and should respond to specific requirements, using a gradual process similar to software versioning. “The idea is to ask ‘what is the technology that can work there?’, and then develop it appropriately, using relevant ideas and locally-available materials,” he explains. “And good technology isn’t a gadget with twenty different functions. It should just do one thing, and do it well.” Traditional wisdom Sometimes, the old ways are the best. “You can’t just force something new onto [CEFs],” explains Canlas. “It’s about building trust and making clear that you know there’s also knowledge from their own practices. So you’ve got to find that first.” Silverius Oscar Unggul is vice-president of Telapak, an Indonesian organisation helping community enterprises convert illegal loggers to more sustainable practices. In just eight years their community-logging programme has grown from seven participating families to 45,000. Unggul says that modern sustainable forest management depends on scientific investigation to discover the best practices for reintroducing indigenous plants lost to […]

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Report from Moth Night

Moths are an impressively speciose group that comprise around 160000 known species globally (about 8 to 10 times! the number of butterflies). Despite this diversity, the reasons for this taxon to remain little known could be attributed to various reasons such as their nocturnal or crepuscular habits, their impressive adaptations such as camouflage as a defense mechanism and well, the misconception that they are not as charismatic as their cousins, the butterflies. To make a change in the latter notion, a “Moth Night” was organized at Keystone Foundation on the evening of July 19, 2014 as part of the Annual Moth Week – a small first step towards inculcating interest among people on Moths. As expected, the idea of “moths” did not draw a huge crowd but there were about 20 interested participants who were open to know more about these unique insects. There was a small introduction given about moths and how they differ from the better known butterflies, following which a 2002 French movie, Le Papillon (A butterfly) was screened. The night ended with Mothing or Moth watching where light traps were set up to attract moths. Although only a handful of moths were spotted due to the unfortunate chill of that evening, it was still an interesting experience coming across some beautiful representatives of the Family Geometridae among the others which are yet to be identified. Gallery

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Moth Night – Get Bedazzled

Moths appeared on Earth in the Jurassic period, nearly 195 million years ago and since then, have diversified into an astounding array of shapes, colours and sizes. Despite being one of the most speciose groups among insects, moths have always remained in the shadow of their cousins, the butterflies. Globally, of the approximate 1,80,000 species of butterflies and moths that comprise the Order Lepidoptera, moths account for about 1,60,000 species while butterflies account for less than 20,000. The Annual Moth Week, celebrated in July, was initiated to create interest among people about the immense diversity of moths. This year, we, at Keystone will be joining with enthusiasts around the world in cataloguing moths in our neighbourhood. Our event is registered with the National Moth Week Global Citizen Science initiative (http://nationalmothweek.org/) and the photo documentation will be uploaded in the India Biodiversity Portal – Indian Moths user group. So, come join us for a glimpse of the amazing little nocturnal friends around us! What: Movie screening of ‘Le Papilion’, a French movie, followed by Light trapping and Sugaring for Moths and photo session! DO BRING YOUR CAMERAS. When: 6pm, Saturday, July 19 2014 Where: Keystone Campus, Plaza or outside Mandare

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Pre-Empting Conflict- Human-Gaur Interactions in the Nilgiris

The project seeks to address the issue of human-gaur interactions in the Nilgiris, Western Ghats with the aim of pre-empting conflict. Sightings of Gaur (Bos gaurus) have increased especially in human dominated landscapes like tea/coffee plantations and commercial vegetable growing fields. The main objectives of the project are to map populations, habitat and movements of gaur; to create awareness with the active participation of stakeholder groups and implement suitable conservation action to mitigate conflict situations. The proposed project is a pioneering effort in understanding the conflict dynamics between humans and wildlife in an urban landscape. Human wildlife conflicts are usually associated with landscapes closer to or within forested landscapes. The emerging issue of Gaur sightings within human dominated landscapes is an issue that needs immediate attention, before the situation escalates to a serious level. It is envisaged that this pilot study will strengthen the understanding of the efforts that needs to be taken to resolve the situation. One of the outcomes of this project is the increased awareness amongst the communities and other stakeholders on gaur movement and habitat within the urban landscape. This will aid in bringing about participatory conservation actions in the region and also ensuring that all stakeholders involved are on a common platform of understanding of the issue. It is also envisaged that with increased awareness and necessary conservation action in place, the conflicts between gaur and humans could be reduced and mitigated to a great extent. It is also crucial that the engagements with the stakeholders are continuous beyond the end of the project period. The Nilgiri Natural History Society is well placed in the region to carry forward this work. The efforts will definitely enhance species conservation in areas outside of protected areas and serve as a model for other areas experiencing similar issues along the Western Ghats. For further information contact sumin@keystone-foundation.org or visit www.keystone-foundation.org The Rufford Foundation – Project

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Honey shop opening in Punanjanur

The Sampige Value Addition Centre in Hosapodu village in Punanjanur Panchayat of Chamrajnagara district, Karnataka opened a retail outlet in Punanjanur on the 10th of July 2014. The Sampige value addition centre is a landmark in the Soliga communities struggle for recognition of their forest rights. In 2011, 25 podus(Soliga habitations) received recognition of their community forest rights. The concerted effort of the Soliga Abhivriddhi Sangha has resulted in the recognition of the community forest resource rights of the Soligas, the first such recognition for a tribal community living within a Tiger Reserve. More recently, 6 of these villages – Hosapodu, Srinivasapuram Colony, Bedaguli, Munishwera colony, Banawadi and  Ethegowdanadoddi  decided to start a small scale enterprise to value add non timber forest produce collected by its members. Keystone Foundation is involved in the training and capacity building of the members of these gram sabhas in sustainable harvest methods, value addition and marketing. The outlet was inaugurated by the District Collector, Chamrajanagara district, Sri  Kunjappa . Also gracing the occasion were  the tribal welfare officer Sri Somashekhar,  Smt Snehlata Nath, Director of programmes, Keystone, Sri Jade Gowda, LAMPS agent from Badregowdanapodu ,Sri Sanhaida, community elder from Bedaguli, Sri Nagaraj, President of the Hosapodu Gram Sabha and several members of the Soliga community. The retail outlet sells wild honey, soaps, lip balms and balms made of bees wax, various kinds of pickles and jam, Ragi powder, brooms and saplings of forest plants. The outlet will lend an impetus to greater community participation in forest governance in the area. Gallery  

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When people and biodiversity co-exist

Anita Varghese took a sabbatical from Keystone in August 2010 to do her PhD with Prof. Tamara Ticktin at the University of Hawaii in Botany. Her study looks at the linkages between ecology and traditional knowledge of NTFP gatherers of the NBR with a focus on the gathering of resin from Canarium strictum. She is in the final stages of completing her dissertation and prepares to defend on June 19th at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. A PDF of her dissertation will be on our website soon.  

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Workshop on Green Economy for TN

Tamil Nadu State Land Use Research Board, State Planning Committee recently conducted a workshop on “ Green Economy for Tamil Nadu” at State Planning Commission (SPC) under the Chairmanship of Vice Chairman, SPC and in the presence of the Principal Secretary to  Government, Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Department (Planning & Development).The key objective of this workshop was to promote the Green Economy equity without damaging the environment, it is and economic development model based on the sustainable development using the knowledge of ecological economics and aimed for the optimum returns. In their presentations, the Keystone Foundation- discussed their efforts in implementing development schemes for the local people of the Nilgiri district, particularly tribal, using local knowledge without damaging the environment. The Director, Keystone foundation, Kotagiri, The Nilgiri District gave an introduction to the Green Economy, its objectives and elaborated on concepts like, inclusive growth, sustainable development and environmental governance. He stated that the Keystone Foundation has been working in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve since the last 20 years and their programmes areas are (a) Forests based Livelihoods (b) Reviving Hill Agriculture for Food Sovereignty and (c) Certification and Marketing. The main aim of the Keystone Foundation is to address the issues of the indigenous people of the Nilgiri District leading to sustainable development and overall wellbeing of the community. He also spoke on the Environmental Governance on the Nilgiri district. A short film titled “Health of the hills in the wealth of the plains” was shown and was followed by a presentation on the key areas of their work. Key recommendations are presented at the end of this workshop report.

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Ajile Bottu Shop Opening

A new shop was opened jointly by the members of the Ajile Bottu and the Manali Hoovu women’s group. The inauguration was by the Range Forest Officer, Kotagiri Range. Together the members of both the artisan groups are from the tribal villages of Banagudi Shola, Baviyur, Vellaricombai, Mettukkal and Kolithorai. Members of the groups are skilled in painting traditional motifs and scenes using vegetable dyes while the women’s group are skilled in crochet making items both of wool as well as thread. The shop has been allocated to the groups by the Mahalir Thittam, the Women’s Development Programme, Government of TN at a nominal monthly rent. Then shop also has a variety of items including paintings and crocheted items by the group, jewellery made of forest seeds and bamboo,  traditional grain like amaranthus(keerai), small millet(saamai), gooseberry candy, honey and pickles as well as household utility items like brooms and ladles. Keystone supports the groups in product developmet and book keeping. Do visit the AJILE BOTTU shop when you are in Kotagiri. It is located opposite the old library in Ramchand Square. Gallery

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Reach Us

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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