Community Dialogue is a vaccine for conflicts, battles and wars

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21st October 2021, Wednesday,

A country’s identity is defined by its rich cultural and natural heritage. UNESCO defines the site as World Heritage Site for having historical, cultural, natural and scientific significance. UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites have expanded into a total of 1154 sites out of which 218 are World Natural Heritage sites from 167 countries as of now.

World Heritage Committee of UNESCO in 2021 at Fuzhou, China inscribed 34 new properties. Out of 34 new inscribed sites, 5 are under the natural heritage category and the remaining 29 are cultural heritage.

Kaas Plateau is one of the 39 serial sites of the Western Ghats, inscribed as World Natural Heritage in 2012. It is a mini-site with mega achievements and ambitious future plans.  The area covered by the Kaas plateau is just about 16 sq kms out of 160,000 Square Kms of the Western Ghats which has been identified as one of the hotspots of biodiversity due to its unique ecosystem and abundant endemic species and threats to its flora and fauna. The site is sensitive to external threats arising from insensitive tourism, biotic invasion mainly due to extensive traffic. Climate change and extreme weather events represent the existential threats to the ecosystem of Western Ghats.

TERRE Policy Centre, a Pune-based global NGO that has contributed significantly to the inscription of the 39 serial natural sites of western ghats, recognises these threats and has been tracking the progress of the Kaas site management by providing guidance to the local community for preservation and restoration of the ecosystems as well as sustainable development of the communities around. It is mainly done through Annual Report Cards (ARC) post-dialogues with the stakeholders. TERRE has been publishing right from 2013 such ARCs, that highlight the outcome of cumulative efforts of the Joint Forest Management Committee ( JFMC), Forest Division of district Satara of State Government, local community, researchers, experts and journalists. It then goes on to develop suggestions for future actions.

Every year TERRE along with the Forest Department of Satara District and Joint Forest Management Committee (JFMC) hosts a community dialogue with the help of its association of UNESCO ( NGO) at the local level to assess the progress and plan for relevant activities related to nature conservation and community development. Due to COVID 19, the annual report cards for the years 2019 & 2020 were not released in absence of the community dialogue.

Kaas community and TERRE Policy Centre are now proposing a community dialogue for the period of 2019-2020. The dialogue will take place on 22nd October 2021 on Kaas Pushpa Pathar (Kaas Plateau of wildflowers) at Ghatai Devi Mandir. The dialogue will be attended by members of the Joint Forest Management Committee (JFMC) consisting of 6 village heads, bio-diversity experts, researchers, media among others.

Notes for editors:

TERRE Policy Centre is a non-profit, non-partisan and independent organization dedicated to sustainable solutions to our developmental imperatives. TERRE also is the abbreviation for ‘Technology, Education, Research and Rehabilitation for the Environment.’ TERRE strives to reach all strata of society, particularly the young generation and people at the bottom of the pyramid with capacity building tools on energy and food security. Its motto is: “To think is good but to act is better”.

Contact: Dr Rajendra Shende, Chairman TERRE, former Director UNEP and IIT Bombay Alumnus

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