|Research and Training|
AT India believes that most forest management problems stem from social complexities and not (largely) from ecological peculiarities. For this reason, it is essential to understand the motivating factors for and against conservation from the average villager's point of view, rather than exclusively from the perspective of a scientist-researcher. To AT India, this implies that its research studies will bring out a unique perspective-one that combines objective of scientific parameters in determining availability of biomass and people's resource use patterns, along with people's subjective perspectives on forest produce and village economy.
This understanding forms the crux of AT India's action research initiatives. Generating empirical data on the project area enables the organization to enhance its understanding on a range of socio-economic and ecological trends that affect the environment. Further, studies aimed at measuring the health and impact of the AT India's programs; serve as monitoring initiatives that lend appropriate direction and inputs for its activities. The research/studies component can be classified under the following broad heads:
Estimating availability and usage of NTFPs: Assessing availability, the harvesting impacts on specific NTFPs and determining the carrying capacity of the study region for undertaking economic activities.
Determining Regeneration prospects: Conducting socio-economic and ecological studies to promote natural regeneration and plantation related activities. This involves studying the following:
Nurse Species: Determining nurse species for a given area that will aid natural regeneration.
Fire Protection: Ascertaining socio-economic and cultural reasons for intentional forest fires, with a view to designing appropriate training programmes for their prevention.
Monitoring: Creating a community based biodiversity monitoring system (CBCRPI) with the objective of developing an index that will depict the health of an ecosystem. The components of the system include species identification, mapping, criterion for selection of a species for (small scale) industry, resource assessment techniques and the effects of intervention by other species; in addition conducting GIS Mapping for the region.
Assessing Community Perceptions and Practices: Understanding community resource use practices and community perceptions on forest department and conservation with a view to devising training/communication methodologies to improve conservation initiatives. In addition, documenting indigenous knowledge under the discipline of ethno-botany and folk taxonomy.
Training & Dissemination
At the community level, the research findings are disseminated with the objective of raising levels of awareness, involvement and understanding amongst communities and inducing action for conservation. Apart from sharing the findings from the study at the community level, they are also shared with the policy makers to advocate for review of legal provisions, wherever possible.
The findings and learning from the research studies have also been utilized to devise communications and training material (in Hindi and English).
i. Disadvantages of forest fragmentation and significance of wildlife corridors
ii. Ecosystem services of Western Himalayan Eco-region and their significance
iii. Methodologies for preparing community based biodiversity monitoring registers
iv. Non Timber Forest Produce, their uses and market
v. Sustainable biomass harvesting techniques
vi. Application of GIS & Remote sensing for Natural Resource Management
vii. Understanding forests and indicators of forest health
viii. Watershed management
ix. Understanding sustainability and its indicators
1. Community based methodologies for tracking forest health
2. Community based methodologies for forest resource assessment
3. Planning for community land plantations
4. Collection of flora specimen and preparation of herbariums
5. Community based planning for forest fire prevention, protection and control measures, especially in context of hill regions
6. Community based planning for rotational grazing, especially in context of hill regions
7. Making micro plans, a community approach
8. Participatory Resource Mapping for villages of Uttaranchal Hills
Technical Training & Organizational Capacity Building
AT India continues in its efforts in the strengthening of capacity in technical training. Technical training modules have been developed and are available for sericulture, beekeeping, dwarf bamboo handicrafts, nursery and plantation activity and dairy development. Additionally management training modules for strengthening of staff capacity are in the process of being completed for six categories, with the support of a consultant.
Management and technical training is now also being offered to other organizations. AT India has delivered training material and inputs to the Nanda Devi Catchment Treatment project in Joshimath; Grassroots Development Foundation in Ranikhet; and the Government sponsored Ajeevika project in Chamoli district.
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