While we hope that the self-renewing character of nature is likely to ensure the rejuvenation of natural systems, we are witnessing a large scale disappearance of flora and fauna, depletion of water tables, and a food crisis of planetary proportions.
Most of our work is located in the dryland regions of the country where land degradation and depletion of biomass, biodiversity, and groundwater levels have severely stressed ecosystems and rural livelihoods. In our efforts towards restoring degraded ecosystems, we mainly focus on assisting natural regeneration by making most of the sub-tropical climate and abundance of rootstock in each region. In some areas, supported by appropriate measures of soil and moisture conservation and regeneration, there is marked improvement in recharge of groundwater levels, biomass productivity and biodiversity, resulting in increased crop productivity, double cropping, fodder and water availability. While it is heartening to witness such positive developments, we also observe injudicious practices such as growing water-intensive crops in dryland areas, large scale sand mining, and felling of trees (brick making) for construction activities, calling for discussion and action on balancing the availability of natural resources with their utilization.
In our approach to eco-restoration we:
- Highlighting the linkages between forests and associated production systems in the landscape - agriculture, livestock keeping and fisheries through systemic drivers such as soil, moisture, nutrients, biomass and biodiversity
- Locating forests and other commons within the larger ecological, social and economic setting such that preservation, conservation and exploitation objectives are assigned to different areas within the landscape
- Increasing the availability of biomass and water and simultaneously assisting local communities devise norms and mechanisms to prevent injudicious use locally and beyond
- Concentrating on Common Property Resources as these offer a single platform to collectively address issues of social justice, ecological restoration and poverty alleviation
- Integrating and nesting the various village-level institutions involved in natural resource governance under the Panchayat without infringing upon their functional autonomy such that even as they work to fulfil their objectives, they are accountable to the Panchayat
- Bringing together the representatives of village institutions, civil society groups, academia and government functionaries on a common platform, so as to achieve better stewardship of the area