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 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.


 

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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Oranic 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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TAC meeting at Keystone

A meeting of the Tribal Advisory Committee was held at the Keystone campus on 3rd November 2014. The TAC is convened bi-annually to seek feedback and directions for ongoing and new projects that are implemented by the organization. Representatives from the Alu Kurumba, Irula, Kaatunayakan, Kota, Paniya and Toda communities attended the meeting. A total of 40 members were at the meeting. This meeting of the TAC was convened to discuss the Nilgiris Field Learning Centre, Gender and Human Rights project, a proposed exploration of traditional mental health services, the ongoing work on payment of ecosystem services and the work on supporting farmers groups. Gallery

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Welcoming the new IFOAM World Board members

Mathew has been re-elected to the World Board of IFOAM at its General Assembly held alongside the Organic World Congress, in Istanbul, just last week – a proud moment for all of us here in Keystone. In his previous term, being part of the Board was a huge learning curve for him – the skills, experiences, depth of understanding of various subjects – from different Board members enabled IFOAM to grow visibly as an organization. He hopes that the confidence reposed by the members (70% have been re-elected), will enable IFOAM to lead the organic world in a meaningful manner. Added to this excitement was the fact that India won the bid for hosting the next Organic World Congress in 2017. Pitted against Brazil, Russia and China, OFAI (Organic Farming Association of India) made an excellent pitch.  A huge responsibility but also a great opportunity to showcase the diversity and richness of the organic agriculture world in India. Looking forward.. World Board

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Protection of Gaurs in Nilgiri Biosphere

To enable a conflict-free existence between humans and gaurs (Bos gaurus) in the region, the Keystone Foundation with assistance from Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) has started a Rapid Action Project (RAP), supported by Charities Aid Foundation India (CAF India), in areas in and around Kotagiri, an important refuge for the gaur. Reports of gaur sightings have been increasing in the upper plateau of the Nilgiris. Sightings have also become common in the tea/coffee plantations and agricultural fields. Growing urbanisation has led to a massive degradation of habitat of the gaur and recent times have seen a rise in reports of negative interactions with humans, especially by vegetable farmers. Further explaining the need of the project, Radhika Bhagat the Head of Wild Aid Division, under which the RAP is being carried out, said, “Gaurs are large bovines and will naturally go to the first available food source. In an area like the Niligiris, when you have a high density of the species in a vastly fragmented habitat and they have to inevitably share the same space as humans, chances of conflict increase especially in the agricultural lands. While so far there have been no fatal retaliatory attacks on the animal, a few people have lost their lives in conflict situations. To nip the problem before it escalates to a bigger level, we are lending our full support to the Keystone Foundation as they go ahead with various mitigation measures.” Some of these measures include identifying potential gaur safe havens within the landscape and identifying gaur corridors with technical advice from WTI, installing signages at critical crossing zones and developing multi-lingual information and awareness material for gaur conservation in human dominated landscapes. “It is good that there is an attempt being made to assess the habitat of gaurs and make plans to locally conserve them, particularly by anticipating a possibility of retaliatory killings. The species has also been long targeted for its meat, contributing to the dwindling numbers,” said Jose Louies, Regional Head of South India for WTI. A two-day Doddu Habba or Gaur Festival was also organised by the Keystone Foundation at Kotagiri, in August. The event was being organised in collaboration with the Wildlife Trust of India, the Hill Area Development Programme, CAF India and the Rufford Foundation. The motive behind the festival was to spread awareness on tolerance towards wildlife among the local populace. The festival brought together artists, musicians, theatre artists and storytellers from the Nilgiris, Kerala, Odisha, and North East India in support of the majestic animal. It celebrated the gaur, not only as a wild animal, but also as a symbolic representation of man’s coexistence with nature. “The Gaur is a symbol of coexistence between humans and nature. While they are not yet considered a species of concern in an urban landscape, frequent and sometimes prolonged interactions with gaur have generated a buzz in town. We would like to use the buzz to spread awareness and get people to participate in the conservation of the charismatic species,” added Sumin George, of the Keystone Foundation. The Western Ghats and their outflanking hills in South India constitute one of the most extensive extant strongholds of the gaur, with good numbers in Wayanad – Nagarahole – Mudumalai – Bandipur complex, with an estimated population of 12,000-22,000 in the country (Ranjitsinh 1997), although there is no confirmed data. According to IUCN Red List, which lists the Bos gaurus as Vulnerable, the global population is estimated to be around 13,000–30,000 animals, indicating a total of 5,200–18,000 mature individuals. This Article was published in Wildlife Trust of India

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Celebrating 50 years of The IUCN Red List

The IUCN Red List is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of wild species and their links to livelihoods. Far more than a list of species and their status, it is a powerful tool to inform and catalyse action for biodiversity conservation, critical to protecting the natural resources we need to survive. Watch our video to find out more about The IUCN Red List and our goal of assessing at least 160,000 species by 2020 to make The IUCN Red List a more complete ‘Barometer of Life’. Read More

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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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