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Raintree Foundation and Srushti Conservation Foundation to facilitate Course in Peoples’ Biodiversity Register Development at DESPU

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Pune, India: Raintree Foundation in partnership with Srushti Conservation Foundation (SCF) is facilitating a 15-Day Certificate Course in Peoples’ Biodiversity Register (PBR) development for Masters’ students at the Fergusson College, Deccan Education Society’s Pune University (DESPU), Pune. The People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR) is an essential participatory tool for documenting the local community’s traditional knowledge about the region’s biodiversity and human interaction with ecological systems.
Human actions like habitat destruction, pollution, overexploitation, climate change, and invasive species threaten biodiversity, causing ecosystem disruptions, habitat loss, and straining community resources. Urgent conservation is essential for rural communities and their natural heritage. The People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR), mandated by the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, documents, and helps preserve local bio-resources along with traditional knowledge.
A total of 27 students across multiple post-graduate specializations including Botany, Zoology, and Environmental Science are enrolled in this course. The course will include classroom sessions and on-field activity in Sakhar and Gunjawane villages in Pune, providing hands-on experience as well as course credits for the students under the National Education Policy.
The program will commence from 1st Jan 2024 till 15th January 2024. It will include theory sessions conducted by SCF at the Fergusson College and on-field data-collection organized by the Raintree Foundation at Sakhar and Gunjawane villages. The course will offer practical exposure to the students of the respective departments, helping raise their awareness towards the ground reality of biodiversity management, and the importance of PBR in creating village management plans. While at its core the PBR is a document which contains comprehensive information on the locally available bio-resources, their medicinal use and traditional knowledge, it has the potential to be used to foster community stewardship for sustainable development, conservation effort and benefit-sharing.
Commenting on the initiative, Ms. Namita Dandekar, Chief Operating Officer, Raintree Foundation said, “Documentation of traditional knowledge is critical not just for understanding the community’s generational interaction with their natural resources and heritage but is also important for ensuring greater community participation and ownership of biodiversity conservation efforts. Through this experiential educational programme in partnership with Srushti Conservation Foundation and Fergusson College, Raintree Foundation will offer practical, on-ground exposure to students interested in working in environmental conservation, while also working with community resource persons to develop documentation of local oral traditions and knowledge that are rapidly fading away.”

Programme Details:

Classroom Sessions/ Theory Sessions – January 1st – 5th, 2024
The Dept. of Environmental Science at the Fergusson College will organise the Theory sessions for DESPU students from January 1st to January 5th, 2024. These theory sessions will be led by Srushti Conservation Foundation, Pune. The sessions will cover topics such as a general introduction to climate change and biodiversity, discussions on documenting traditional knowledge and natural resource systems, an introduction to the PBR concept including its importance, history, general structure, purpose, and application. Additionally, there will be discussions on PBR do’s and don’ts, an introduction to Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) techniques, and activities focusing on awareness generation among people, ground preparation for PBR development, and daily games.
On-field data-collection – January 6th – 15th, 2024
On-field data collection is scheduled in Gunjavane and Sakhar villages from January 7th to January 15th, 2024. This nine-day activity comprises five days of fieldwork, involving visits to Gunjavane and Sakhar, documenting oral histories of local biodiversity, which are gradually fading, preparation of documentation and awareness materials, collation, compilation, and editing of the PBR document. On the final day, students will be required to take an exam for certification. The program will conclude with certificate distribution and submission of the prepared PBRs to the Maharashtra State Biodiversity Board for approval.

 

 

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