Strengthening linkages

Putting information to work for better interventions

Appropriate technologies for livelihoods, enterprise development & conservation
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
 

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 SACORN 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. 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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Organic Expo together with BioFach Japan 2015

As a part of the IFOAM Word Board Member, Mathew was invited to attend BIOFAch Japan, 2014. BIOFACH JAPAN, the oldest member of the World Organic Trade Fair, BIOFACH in Nuremberg, has taken place in Tokyo since 2001. It is the only exhibition in Japan for this sector. Couple of unique things for this year (2014) was an Italian pavilion for the region of Sicily and the open market for small organic producers from around Japan. In small spaces, they showcased the diversity of the organic sector, bringing in fruits, vegetables and other produce. In addition to the extensive range of organic products and natural cosmetics, visitors could also look forward to a trade conference on current and future market themes. The exhibition’s slogan was “Organic is our future – life with organic”… Organic Expo together with Biofach Japan presents an opportunity for trade visitors from the wholesale and retail trade, import, catering and manufacturing from the organic industry. It has developed into an information and networking platform for international organic actors over the last few years.

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Swallows regional partners’ meeting, 2014

The Swallows regional partners meeting was hosted by Keystone Foundation from 27th to 30th November at the Keystone campus. 35 participants attended consisting of partners from Bangladesh, India and Sweden. Engendering mobilization and sustainable social change was the theme for the four days. Plenary sessions on gender movements, stories from the field and group work to look at three themes – violence against women, access issues and leadership. A session on post elections analysis in all three countries was interesting. The participants made a three year gender gender action plan which needs to be implemented. Brigitta Goranson, one of the founders of Swallows was there to support the meeting and speak about the future of Swallows, she knows Keystone from the beginning and has always been supportive. She is currently on the board. Monica Erwer, director of Swallows facilitated the event. Gallery

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Fund-raising Challenge

The plan of this project is to Promote and revive nutritious diet based on traditional foods (finger millet, foxtail millet, little millet, mustard, pumpkin and a range of local beans) for indigenous communities (100 Families) in the Coonoor slopes. This project has to raise $5,000 from 40 donors by December 31 so that we can earn a permanent spot at global giving to raise more funds in the future! Share & help us raise the fund! Know More about the Project and Donate

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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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