GUWAHATI, Sept 9: On the occasion of its 32nd Foundation Day today, premier biodiversity conservation and research organisation of the region, Aaranyak to reiterated its commitment to work with renewed vigour towards its mitigating key potential threats, as it has flagged, to the ecology and environment in North East India.
Addressing a virtual media briefing on its Foundation Day, the CEO of Team Aaranyak, Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar said, “It is high time that we focus on the very basic needs of human survival – the air and water. We can only ensure its free flow if we take good care of our forest, wetland, grassland and other such ecosystems.”
For the purpose of addressing conservation challenges in the region, Aaranyak which came into being in 1989 as a neighbourhood green club here, has formed various applied research and conservation divisions and programmes, where in it has engaged over 120 employees for various project activities, building local expertise and giving opportunities to budding and passionate conservation workers and volunteers.
“We need is to address key environmental issues with some bold decisions. That’s where our government needs to be briefed properly with science-based inputs so that our government could take informed decisions keeping in mind the various Sustainable Development Goals of the UN and also the Aichi Targets that could make balance between environment and development,” Dr Talukdar said.
Regarding Government of India’s move to promote palm oil plantation in the ecologically sensitive NE region, the Team Aaranyak observed that promotion of any mono-culture of plants including palm oil in North East India which may lead to destruction of forests and biodiversity and called upon the government to weigh all pros and cons before deciding to introduce palm oil plantations in the region.
Aaranyak today highlighted the grave threat posed by invasive species in parts of North East India, and specially in rhino bearing areas of Kaziranga National Park and Manas National Park. The threat is amplified for threatened and habitat-specialist species, for example, the One-horned rhinos, Eastern Swamp Deer, Hog deer, Pygmy hog and many others in grassland habitat. The spread of invasive plants has been known to hugely impact agro-biodiversity, reduce productivity and cause human health hazards as well.” It is high time that we come-up with pragmatic and cost-effective measures to control invasion in order to secure wildlife habitats, native species, ensure food security and address the target of SDGs,” said Aaranyak’s senior conservation leader, Dr Bibhuti P Lahkar
On the growing threat of illegal trade in wildlife parts, Dr Talukdar said “Illegal trade in wildlife parts trade in the region is a serious challenge to the survival of not only threatened species, but also to our national security. The nexus of some anti-national groups with rhino horn trade has been brought to fore of late by government security agencies. Stringent vigil to check illegal rhino poaching and trade on wildlife has to be continued as priority thrust areas of our security agencies to reduce threats to our national security, “Dr Talukdar said.
“Water security for North East India has to be a priority area of focus for North East India as we have already faced situations like too much water or too little water. Apart from the natural variability of the Southwest Monsoons, climate change has rendered our rainfall patterns more uncertain both in space and time. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see many new areas suffering from abnormally low rainfall and erratic rainfall patterns resulting in agricultural droughts as well all flash floods,” said Dr P J Das of Aaranyak.
Nature-based adaptation strategies can be an important consideration in building resilience and mitigate the threat of climate change. The local communities of northeast India have been traditionally practising nature-based solutions to safeguard their well-being as well as biodiversity.
Aaranyak has been working cohesively with local communities across various parts in Assam for watershed management in Kohora River Basin in Karbi Anglong district, facilitating and promoting rural tourism in Manas landscape and Karbi Anglong, supplementing livelihood opportunities through skill development and training extracting organic dye from natural plant sources. The organisation believes that these approaches together will help mitigate climate change issues, augment livelihood.