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Lantana weed provides livelihood for tribals of Melghat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tribal youth from Melghat have now been trained to prepare craft and furniture items out of Lantana camara, a type of forest weed. This is a significant boost, not only for the tribals, but also for the forest department since Lantana camara (referred to as Raimuniya in Hindi) is a weed menace for forest land and does not allow local grass species to regenerate.Lantana camara is spreading fast in central India, resulting in drastically reducing the availability of grass in the forest. It has also affected the fodder availability, thereby contributing to the livestock management crisis in central India. Every year, the state forest department undertakes a drive to eradicate the lantana on a mass scale.To that end, Nature Conservation Society, Amravati (NCSA), in collaboration with Satpuda Foundation (SF) organised a workshop for tribal youth. The local tribal have been trained to use the same lantana to prepare craft and furniture for self-employment. President of Satpuda Foundation Kishor Rithe said that the first batch for training session started on October 2 at NCSA’s Muthwa community centre with the financial assistance of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Around 31 participants from Nanduri, Raksha, Bori, Kotha and Chunkhadi have been trained.Somaji Jamunkar and Bhanu Raju Jamunkar, both from Chunkhadi village situated in the core of Melghat Tiger Reserve have five acres of agriculture land each who trained in the first batch. Their first crop — soybean and jawar — was wiped out due to the rains. So Somaji and Bhanu hoped that the train would help them with a alternative livelihood. Similarly, Priya Sundarlal Mawaskar and Neeta Chironjilal Dhande from Nanduri village told felt that this would be a more comfortable mode of livelihood rather than hard labour.Nishikant Kale, President of Nature Conservation Society added that it was due to the initiative by Satpuda Foundation trainers Jaisingh Dhurve and Fagulal from Matkuli, Pachamarhi that the workshop was a success.District Collector Abhijit Bangar and CCF (Wildlife) Sreenivasa Reddy also visited the training camp. Rithe said that furniture making has previously proved to be successful in Pench Tiger Reserve of Maharashtra as well as Madhya Pradesh and Satpuda Tiger Reserve in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh. The experiment has provided permanent employment to around 78 families in the Satpuda Tiger Reserve.

What to do on Diwali evening? No cracker of an idea

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>How do you explain to a kid that she/he won’t be able to get even a sparkler this Diwali while the cousin living outside the ‘sanitised’ area of NCR can burst crackers to heart’s content?As a parent, you would have justified in your mind the Supreme Court’s ruling banning the sale of firecrackers in NCR by conjuring up images of a smoke-enveloped Delhi, people wearing face-masks, an old man breaking into asthmatic coughs. But tell that to a child who till last year was firing rockets into the sky aiming at Mars (with the firm belief that at least a couple would reach), and she/he will stare at you, bewildered. “Is Diwali cancelled?” would be the obvious question.No, Diwali has not been “cancelled,” but it has been told to shut up. The ground for that is not solid – it’s actually air. Delhi virtually choked last year under the twin forces of crop-stubble burning in neighbouring states and the normal celebration of Diwali. Hence, the legal ban on the sale of firecrackers in the National Capital Region. One respects the honourable court’s decision for its vision and toughness, but one also asks – what will we do then on Diwali night?Lights up, diyas arranged, decorations done, new clothes adorned, mithai consumed, gifts exchanged, plastic smiles smiled – all done by 7 pm. Now what? You can’t possibly repeat the cycle, so what do you do? Single malt? Yes, perhaps… considering its repeat value. But what’ll the all-dressed-up-but-nothing-to-burst seven-year-old do? The ubiquitous iPad comes out from somewhere, a bean bag emerges, a fizzy cold drink is popped open, and hey… ‘Happy Diwali’ is over.This could have been Happy Anyday.Couldn’t at least Diwali day been spared from the ban on the sale of firecrackers? A few hours in the evening designated for a bit of mindless fun? I am sure these were debated by the honourable judges, but then we, the people of NCR, are notorious for not following strictures and timelines. Who’ll go and stop the family living in house no. XX in Geeta Colony from bursting ‘chocolate bombs’ at 11 pm? A potent argument, considering that we revel in disobedience.There have been repeated strictures on fireworks during Diwali – from courts, from law-enforcement agencies and from Mother Nature herself. But we flouted them again and again. This time the doctor (read court) has decided to opt for surgery. Therefore, we are in no position to complain – we have brought it upon ourselves.Now go and tell that to the kids…(The author is Editor-in-Chief of DNA and father of a 7-year-old boy)

Former civil servant turns South Mumbai into his canvas

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 61-year-old former civil servant from Delhi regularly visits South Mumbai to pursue his passion for photography. On his visit to the city, he scours through the landmarks of South Mumbai in the morning. He has managed to capture various bird species at Sagar Upvan in Colaba, Hanging Garden at Malabar Hill, Haji Ali promenade, Byculla Zoo, and Marine Drive through his lens.Vinod Goel, 61, was employed with the customs and excise services in the country and took to wildlife photography after he first witnessed a Purple Rumped Sunbird in the city last year. The fascination to click such birds only grew further. Goel then planned another trip to the city and visited Sewri jetty, Mahim Nature Park, Sagar Upvan Park at Colaba, and Byculla Zoo among other places.”I had developed a hobby of photography and soon I decided to explore South Mumbai which is now a concrete jungle. However, I have managed to capture various species of birds at different locations and studied their living patterns as well,” said Goel.He observed the cattle egret, house crow, jungle crow, tailor bird, coppersmith barbet, Asian koel, white-throated fantail, white-cheeked bulbul, silver bill, flamingos, brown headed and black headed gulls, and Palla’s gull among a numerous species of birds.”I was fascinated to shoot the birds sucking nectar from the yellow trumpet flower at the Sagar Upvan in Colaba and later got an opportunity to find these species again at Hanging Garden at Malabar Hills,” Goel added. “No doubt Mumbai appears to be a concrete jungle but to me, it is a paradise for nature lovers and citizens must enjoy the beauty of small and big birds,” Goel concluded.

‘Punjabi By Nature’ manager held after customer falls sick

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Noida Police have arrested the manager of an upscale restaurant in Sector 18, after a customer complained that his friend fell ill as the water at the eatery was contaminated. The restaurant has been sealed as well.According to the police, complainant Jayesh Sharma, 44, said he and his friend, an Ayurveda doctor, Ajay Magan, 44, had visited ‘Punjabi By Nature’, along with their families, on Friday night.Talking to DNA, Sharma said seven members of the two families had gone to the restaurant for dinner around 10 pm. “Magan went to washroom to gargle. As soon as he came back, he started feeling uneasy. He then had a sip of water from the glass at the table. All of a sudden, he felt nauseated and had to rush to the washroom to vomit,” Sharma said.According to the police, manager Amit Mazoomdar has been arrested. “The restaurant has been sealed and action has been initiated against the management,” Abhinandan, Circle Officer I, Noida, said.Mazoomdar, however, said the restaurant management has placed informatory messages on the notice board for customers. “The customers may not have noticed it. We serve RO water at the table,” he said.Sharma maintained that there were no notices anywhere in the restaurant.Meanwhile, the police team has taken water samples, which looked polluted, and sent them for examination. “Further action will be taken after the results are out,” Abhinandan added. The restaurant management has been booked under Indian Penal Court Section 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life).

Indian PM Modi says flood-hit people getting aid, blames climate change

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>By Nita Bhalla NEW DELHI, July 31 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A uthorities across India are taking steps to help millions of people hit by floods and to prepare for future disasters, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, adding that climate change and new weather patterns were having a “big negative impact”. At least 130 people have died in western and northeastern parts of India and millions of people have been affected by floods that have submerged villages, washed away crops, destroyed roads and disrupted power and phone lines. Heavy monsoon rains have caused mighty rivers like the Brahmaputra river and their tributaries to burst their banks forcing people into relief camps in states such as Gujarat, Assam, Rajasthan and West Bengal. “Mother Nature gives us life and nurtures us, but at times natural catastrophes such as floods and earthquakes wreak havoc on a massive scale,” Modi said in his monthly radio address to the nation on Sunday. “Climate change, altered weather cycles, and transformations in the environment, are also having a big negative impact.” India usually experiences monsoon rains from June to September, which are vital for its agriculture — making up 18 percent of its gross domestic product and providing employment for almost half of its 1.3 billion population. But in many states across the country, the rains frequently cause rivers to overflow and flooding forces millions into temporary camps, devastates standing crops, destroys homes and exposes people to diseases such as diarrhoea. The torrential rains this year have not only triggered landslides in hilly regions like Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, they have also flooded national parks, forcing wildlife, including the rare one-horned rhinoceros, to flee. The fast-flowing waters have also breached embankments and eroded dikes in some areas, leaving some roads inaccessible, compounding efforts to rescue marooned villagers. ABOVE AVERAGE Rains have been 4 percent above average since the four-month monsoon season began in June, according to the state-run India Meteorological Department. Modi said relief efforts were being carried out on an “extensive scale” with camps set up for the displaced and search and rescue teams deployed. “Life goes completely topsy-turvy as a result of the floods. Crops, livestock, infrastructure, roads, electricity, communication links – everything gets affected,” said Modi. “In particular, our farmer brethren have to bear a lot of losses because of the damage to their crops and fields.” Modi said pre-emptive measures were put in place ahead of the monsoon season. A scheme for crop insurance companies to ensure quick settlements of claims by farmers and a 24/7 helpline for flood-hit communities was set up, he said, and mock drills conducted by the National Disaster Response Forces. Volunteers in flood-prone regions have also been enlisted and trained in basic “dos and don’ts” to advise communities at risk, he said, adding that it was important to use technology more in order adapt to the changing weather patterns. “We should also gradually make it our nature to set our work patterns according to the weather predictions, which could safeguard us against losses,” he said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

People’s active participation can combat dessertification: Min

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To tackle the challenges posed by desertification, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan today asked people to become environment protectors and plant more trees to increase the area under forest cover. On “United Nations’ World Day to Combat Desertification”, he said that desertification can be tackled effectively with the active participation of local people at all levels. Desertification is the process by which fertile land becomes a desert, typically due to drought, deforestation or inappropriate agriculture. “People of Haryana and the nation should become a large force of ‘Paryavaran Rakshaks’ (environment protectors) to fight the challenges posed by desertification, global warming and climate change,” the Minister said inaugurating ‘Swarna Jayanti Nature Camp. He also launched nature awareness and Aravalli conservation campaign in Bhondsi, near Gurugram in Haryana on the occasion. He asserted that modern science and technology and environment can come together to protect the nature. Highlighting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in formation of the International Solar Alliance at the Conference of Parties at Paris in 2015, the Minister said the government was firmly committed to implement policies on solar energy. The Minister urged the people to work with renewed vigour for afforestation as a means to combat desertification. He also said that the picturesque Aravalli range is venerable, not just for the people of Haryana, but the entire nation, and that the people should work with resolve and dedication to make Aravallis more beautiful. “The central government will extend all possible support to any scheme formulated to realise the vision of enhancing the beauty of the Aravalli range,” he said. Speaking on the occasion, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal said that climate change is having an adverse impact and also adding to desertification of land. He stressed that afforestation can act as a bulwark to stop the process of desertification of land. The Chief Minister announced that the forest around Bhondsi area has been renamed as ‘Chandrashekhar Smriti Van’ in the memory of former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar. A report prepared by Wildlife Institute of Dehradun titled ‘Mapping Aravallis’ on the state of Aravallis was also was released on the occasion. A short film on the conservation of ‘Gouraiya’ (house sparrow) was also screened. Harsh Vardhan and Khattar also rode a part of the distance at the venue, on bicycles to spread the message of environment protection and good health.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Centre to help for scheme for beautification of Aravalis

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union minister Harsh Vardhan today assured that the central government will extend all possible support to any scheme for enhancing the beauty and ecology of the Aravali range. He also urged the people to work with resolve and dedication to make the Aravalis more beautiful. Union environment, forests and climate change minister Vardhan was addressing the gathering at a function to inaugurate the Swarna Jayanti Nature Camp and launch of nature awareness and Aravali conservation campaign on the occasion of the United Nations World Day to Combat Desertification 2017, in Bhondsi, in Gurgaon district. Vardhan said desertification could be tackled effectively with the active participation of local people and cooperation at all levels. He urged the people of Haryana and the nation to become a large force of ‘Paryavaran Rakshaks’ (environment protectors) to fight the challenges posed by desertification, global warming and climate change. He said photos of persons doing commendable work in the area of environment will be circulated in the entire country, if they upload their photos along with their work on the website of the environment ministry. Such persons will also be rewarded on the occasion of World Environment Day next year, he said. In such a way, a big force of environment protectors would be raised, he added. Pointing out that modern science and technology and environment could come together to protect nature, he referred to the devising of a solar tree by scientists over an area of four square metres, which generates 5 KW of electricity. He also highlighted the leading role played by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in forming the International Solar Alliance at the Conference of Parties on Climate Change in Paris in 2015, and added that the government was firmly committed towards implementing policies on solar energy. Speaking on the occasion, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said climate change was having an adverse impact on the lives of the people, and was also adding to the desertification of land. He stressed that afforestation could act as a bulwark to stop the process of desertification of land. He also announced that the forest around Bhondsi area had been renamed as ‘Chandra Shekhar Smriti Van’ in the memory of former prime minister Chandra Shekhar. Khattar exhorted the people to plant trees equal to the population of the village and to plant 2 crore trees in the next one year for protection of the environment.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

‘Connecting People To Nature’ is this year’s World Environment Day theme

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> World Environment Day on June 5 is a collective call for preserving and conserving nature and environment. The day reminds us of our responsibility towards sustainable use of resources. It is celebrated every year to raise global awareness for taking positive environmental action. It was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 on the day the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. The first World Environment Day was celebrated in 1973 at Stockholm. Since then it is hosted every year by a different city with a unique theme. This year, it is being hosted by Canada and the theme for the year is ?Connecting People to Nature?. Giving a clarion call to the people of the country and the youth, in particular, Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr Harsh Vardhan has said that the real sentiment behind World Environment Day should not be restricted to a single day, but must pervade every moment of the day, till the World Environment Day next year. Addressing a function on the eve of World Environment Day here today, the Minister emphasised the need to create positive energy and awakening among the people of the country. Harsh Vardhan urged the people to use public transport more, use cycle, reduce the use of air-conditioners and work towards realising the Prime Minister?s vision of Swacchh Bharat and cleanliness. He also appealed to the people to use water judiciously and in appropriate amount. He directed that the Ministry officials must start water conservation in the right earnest in the Environment Ministry itself. The Minister added that the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change should not work only as a regulator, but more like a facilitator in a true sense. Harsh Vardhan highlighted that youth programmes such as ?Jigyasa?, which is to be launched soon, in which Kendriya Vidyalaya students are taken to CSIR laboratories, should be replicated in the field of environment also. The Minister also said that Department of Science and Technology and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change must work together in the field of waste management ? be it solid waste, plastic waste, or E-waste and in creating waste to wealth and waste to energy. He added that similarly, Ministry of Human Resource Development and MoEFCC can work together to rope in students and harness their strength in spreading messages of positive health and messages for environment protection in the society. The Environment Minister appealed to NGOs, professionals, teachers and students to make environmental protection, nature and biodiversity conservation a strong social movement. Harsh Vardhan pointed out that children and environmental volunteers must be awarded in a much bigger way next year. The Minister said that our ancestors gave us clean rivers, clean air, rich forests, teachings and wisdom on nature and environment. Harsh Vardhan pointed out that the worship of nature and its protection is in our DNA. Speaking on the occasion, Secretary, MoEFCC, Ajay Narayan Jha said that there is a need to spread environmental awareness among all sections of the society. Jha added that protection of environment is an article of faith. The Secretary referred to some key initiatives of the Environment Ministry including Science Express train, which has provided a good opportunity to introduce discussion and dialogue throughout the country. In this context, he also mentioned National Green Corps, one of the largest conservation network and National Nature Camping movement to foster a spirit of adventure and love for nature among the youth. In her welcome address, Additional Secretary, MoEFCC, Dr Amita Prasad said that World Environment Day is celebrated in more than a 100 countries, as the task of saving environment cannot be handled individually, or by one country. Dr. Prasad also pointed out that the need to connect with Nature is reflected in the Ministry?s logo ? ?Nature protects, if she is protected?. Joint Secretary, MoEFCC Gyanesh Bharati delivered the Vote of Thanks. Books detailing the new discoveries of Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and Botanical Survey of India (BSI) were released by Dr. Harsh Vardhan on the occasion. A Mobile App and Web GIS of Faunal information of Wildlife Sanctuaries for ZSI were also launched by the Minister on the occasion. A brochure on ?Training Modules for the Pilot: Green Skill Development Programme? was also released. The Young Environmentalist Award was given away on the occasion. May Barani Aung, a Class X student from Mamta Modern Senior Secondary School, Vikaspuri, New Delhi, was awarded the first prize for performance in National Poster Making Competition. She received a citation, a trophy and a cash prize from Dr. Harsh Vardhan. National Museum for Natural History (NMNH) organised summer vacation programme for children and brought them close to nature. The students also performed a Skit on the subject ?Connecting People to Nature?. They also took the Green Pledge to protect Earth and its natural resources and to adopt practices that will help in environment protection and minimise wastage of natural resources. The children from Bal Bhawan sang a ?Prakriti Vandana?. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is also celebrating World Environment Day at Dehradun tomorrow. Over the years, World Environment Day has grown to be a broad, global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated by stakeholders all over the world. It also serves as the ?People?s Day? for taking positive action for the environment. The onus is on each and everybody to take actions in their daily lives that will help them minimize those activities that contribute to harming nature and enhance those that make the planet a better place. India is deeply committed to ?protecting? as well as ?greening? the environment. The goal is for this growth to be ?inclusive? and as ?green? as possible.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Warned Jaitley against Centre ‘setting Kashmir on fire’ Rahul Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday stated that he was brushed off by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley months ago, when he had warned him that the Centre is heading towards ?setting Kashmir on fire?. ?Around six, seven months ago, Mr. Arun Jaitley came to see me and I told him that they are mishandling Kashmir and they are going to set Kashmir on fire. And Jaitley brushed me aside and said that Kashmir is peaceful,? Rahul told the media here. Asserting that the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are ?mishandling? Kashmir, he added saying that the NDA Government is creating a problem for the country by their incompetence and trying to utilize Kashmir as a political asset. ?Kashmir is India?s strength and they are making it India?s weakness,? he added. Rahul?s assertion comes after a day of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh assuring that a solution for the Kashmir unrest will be chalked out at any cost, while adding that all the impediments coming in between the better future of Kashmir will be removed. “We will find a permanent solution to Kashmir. It might take some time because the problem which has been prevailing since 1947, the solution to it cannot be taken out with just a snap. We will remove all the impediments for a better future of Kashmir. The nature which has given talent in the hands of the people of Kashmir will be used for the development of the Valley and country. Nature has not given those hands to pelt stones,” he said. Rajnath also hinted towards the process of dialogue, saying the Government will talk to anybody who wants to initiate talks. “The situation in Kashmir has seen a lot of improvement and we can assure that the government will get the situation under control. Despite having a large Muslim population, ISIS has been unable to establish a hold in India,” Singh said when addressing the media in New Delhi. Further lauding the Centre’s governance, Singh further stated that under the Modi government, the situation in Jammu and Kashmir situation has improved a lot as 368 terrorists have been neutralized since 2014. “After the surgical strikes by the Indian Army in September last year infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir has come down 45 percent. I assure that we will bring an end to Pakistan sponsored terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and establish peace and tranquility in the state,” Rajnath added.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Mani-Shankar-Aiyar-on-Rajnath-Singh?s-Kashmir-remark

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Downplaying Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh?s ?permanent solution to Kashmir? remark, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar on Sunday said there is little hope in this regard seeing the Government?s inaction in the past three years. Speaking to ANI here, Aiyar said he would like to ask a question to the nation which was posed to him by a Kashmiri. ?When I was in Kashmir a week back, a similar statement was made by Rajnath Singh. A Kashmiri asked me, what they (BJP) could not do in three years, how will they able to do it in a year? I don?t know how are they going to do that but I am only asking the nation what that Kashmiri asked me,? Aiyar told ANI. Expressing strong skepticism to the current situation in the Valley and what the BJP has been doing since last three years, the Congress leader added that there seems to be no hope from the Centre of being able to find a permanent solution to Kashmir. The Home Minister yesterday assured that a solution for the Kashmir unrest will be chalked out at any cost, while adding that all the impediments coming in between the better future of Kashmir will be removed. “We will find a permanent solution to Kashmir. It might take some time because the problem which has been prevailing since 1947, the solution to it cannot be taken out with just a snap. We will remove all the impediments for a better future of Kashmir. The nature which has given talent in the hands of the people of Kashmir will be used for the development of the Valley and country. Nature has not given those hands to pelt stones,” he said. Rajnath also hinted towards the process of dialogue, saying the Government will talk to anybody who wants to initiate talks. “The situation in Kashmir has seen a lot of improvement and we can assure that the government will get the situation under control. Despite having a large Muslim population, ISIS has been unable to establish a hold in India,” Singh said when addressing the media in New Delhi. Further lauding the Centre’s governance, Singh further stated that under the Modi government, the situation in Jammu and Kashmir situation has improved a lot as 368 terrorists have been neutralized since 2014. “After the surgical strikes by the Indian Army in September last year infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir has come down 45 percent. I assure that we will bring an end to Pakistan sponsored terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and establish peace and tranquility in the state,” Rajnath added.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

UP govt to plant 6 crore saplings on World Environment Day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Uttar Pradesh government will plant 6.34 crore saplings on the World Environment Day under ‘Connecting People to Nature’ theme, officials said here today. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanth will release a ‘smarika and citizen charter’ at an event on June 5 here, additional chief secretary forest and environment Sanjiv Saran said. Earlier this target was set for planting 1.34 crore saplings, which has now been increased to 6.34 crores, he said. Claiming that forest area in the state has increased, the senior officer said a massive drive has been launched to free forest land from encroachers. The drive, launched on March 19 and concluded on May 31, helped in freeing 836 hectare of forest land, he said, adding, efforts were on to get all the forest land freed by the year end.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Cameroon steps up reforestation efforts – but forest loss continues

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>By Elias Ntungwe Ngalame YAOUNDE, March 30 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Cameroon’s government plans to restore 12 million hectares (30 million acres) of deforested land to redress the challenges of dwindling forests and help mitigate the effects of climate change. Local councils, nongovernmental organisations and businesses are backing the plan, which will be accompanied by efforts to conserve indigenous forest. Launching the scheme last month, Hele Pierre, Cameroon’s minister of environment and nature protection, said it was the biggest such project yet undertaken in the species-rich Congo Basin, home to the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest. “By restoring our unproductive landscapes, we will help local communities develop sustainably, increase their resilience to climate change and contribute to climate change mitigation,” Pierre said. But environmental experts say that while forest restoration is welcome, there is an even more critical need to protect existing forests, which provide the greatest benefits in terms of limiting climate change and protecting biodiversity. DISAPPEARING FORESTS Cameroon’s forests are the second largest in Africa, at more than 23 million hectares. The government says they have a major role to play in the country’s economic development as well as the fight against climate change and in meeting global forest conservation targets. But in recent years, Cameron has seen a surge in deforestation and forest degradation. A report by Global Forest Watch shows forest loss in Cameroon of 777,000 hectares between 2001 and 2015, with half of this occurring since 2012. Experts say the losses not only hurt ecosystems and drive climate change but hit the country’s economy as well. “The economic and environmental impact of forest loss is really immeasurable, necessitating urgent measures to redress the problem,” said Paul Donfack, a consultant with the African Forest Forum. The government says it is tackling the deforestation problem on two fronts, by reinforcing forest management to protect existing forests and moving to restore those lost. “We think both actions on protecting existing forest and restoring new ones will help significantly reduce the forest loss gap,” Pierre said. CASH TO LOCAL LEVEL The restoration programme, which is scheduled to run until 2030, is part of the Bonn Challenge initiative on forest restoration launched by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2011, the minister said. The project is kicking off with the participation of 183 bodies nationwide, including 74 local councils, 36 non-governmental organisations, and business bodies. The government says local councils will receive FCFA 500 million ($820,000) annually to plant new forest in their areas, while some chiefdoms (village administrative areas) in vulnerable regions will receive FCFA 70 million ($115,000) annually in government support. Participants in the forest restoration initiative say having non-governmental groups working on the project will be “critical” to helping it succeed. Such groups need to “accompany and push government to aggressive actions that will secure the country’s rich forest resources”, said Zachee Nzoh Ngandembou, CEO of the Center for Environment and Rural Transformation, a Cameroonian NGO that is backing the forest restoration programme. Both government and environment experts agree it is unusual for them to be collaborating on sustainable forest management. “By working together we hope to make much greater impact in one of the biggest forest operations ever realised in the Congo Basin region,” Pierre said. Ngandembou said that forest conservation on Mt Cameroon is critical in the provision of drinking water to both Cameroon and neighbouring countries. “Many economic and social services, like supply of water for drinking and dam construction for hydro-electricity, depend on forest. If you don’t have the forests you can’t have these services,” he said. “It makes real economic sense for both the government and the private sector to invest in reasonable forest projects and encourage greater government regulation and control of forest resources to reap the maximum benefits,” he added. SAVING FORESTS FIRST Julius Chuezi Tieguhong, a forest researcher in Cameroon, said indigenous forests have the potential to store more carbon, harbour greater biodiversity and regulate climate better than a reforested areas. He advised that while embracing both approaches, Cameroon’s government and its partners should not lose sight of the economic and environmental advantages of conserving existing forest over reforestation. “It is important … to understand the right balance for any sustainable forest programme,” Tieguhong said. Cameroon officials say they have made efforts to crack down on forest loss in recent years, though with limited success. “We have multiplied and reinforced forest governance with heavy sanctions against defaulters in recent months and will continue to do so,” said Philip Ngole Ngwese, the minister of forestry and wildlife.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Climate change a challenge caused by human beings: Goyal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Power Minister Piyush Goyal today squarely held human beings responsible for the climate challenge, saying they can address it ultimately. “It is time that human beings understood that climate change is a challenge caused by humans only and ultimately it is humans who can address it,” Goyal said while addressing the World Conference on Environment 2017 here in a statement. According to a power ministry statement, the minister said such conferences are very appropriate in the current scenario as these discussions help us come up with new ideas and bring back the focus on sensitive subjects like climate change. Goyal observed that “we are living on this planet and using its resources as if we have an another planet to go to later”. The minister noted that the largest loss experienced due to climate change is by the poorest and the underprivileged. In 1911, he said, Mahatma Gandhi had used the phrase ‘Economy of Nature’ that brought out his deep understanding regarding the need to maintain a balance between what the nature has to supply and the demand of the human existence. “The Earth provides enough for every man’s need, but not for every man’s greed,” the minister quoted the Mahatma as saying. About steps being taken to combat climate change, Goyal said this government has been following a 360 degree holistic approach towards energy, environment and balancing the needs of a growing economy. The LED project, under which the government is looking to lighten the lighting load, will reduce carbon dioxide emission by 80 million tonnes per annum and the economically prudent project will help the consumer save around Rs 40,000 crore in electricity bills annually. Similarly, when it comes to energy generation, India is trying to move from a highly thermal power generation dependent economy towards renewable energy, the minister said. The solar power programme has been scaled up from a 20 gw target to 100 gw by 2022. All the renewable sources, including large hydro projects, taken together, India has set sights on on 225 gw of renewable and clean energy by 2022. About Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for converting all vehicles in India to electric vehicles, Goyal added that the Prime Minister has directed a group of senior ministers to lead the initiative and make sure that latest by 2030, if not all, most vehicles in India are powered by electricity. The minister added that this conversion of India’s vehicles into electrical ones has a potential to save fossil fuel worth about USS 100 bn annually, which in turn would save the country precious foreign exchange, prevent the dependence on imported petroleum products and reduce pollution in cities by 80-90 per cent. According to a government study, India can power its entire vehicular traffic in 2030 on solar power by using only 1 per cent of the land area of Rajasthan. The government is committed to expanding the project rapidly across the country.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

40-year-old female elephant dies due to impaction

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 40-year-old female elephant was found dead, reportedly due to “impaction” and blockage of digestive tract in a coffee estate at Valparai in the district, officials said today. On information last night, forest department officials and Deputy Director of Forest Veterinary Service N S Manoharan rushed to the spot at Varattuparai this morning, department officials said. The elephant could have died a week ago, as it could not defecate due to blockage in the digestive track, and had not consumed a couple of days ago before the death, they said. The surroundings, where the carcass was found, indicated that the elephant had struggled and rolled around before it died, the officials said. The carcass was buried after post-mortem near the estate, some five km from Valparai forests, in the presence of District Forest Officer, Anamalai Tiger Reserve, V Subbaiah, Forest Range Officer P Sakthivel and some members of Nature Conservation Foundation, an NGO.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Upload & Click: How to identify that odd bird in two easy steps

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nature lovers, amateur bird watchers and orinthologists have reason to cheer. The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) collaborated with technology company Accenture to create Internet of Birds (http://internetofbirds.com/) — an online platform that identifies a bird after you’ve uploaded its photo.This is the first such platform in India that helps identify bird species seen across the country, where many people find it difficult to identify birds unless they have access to experts or have previously read books on the subject.Launched last week, Internet of Birds uses image recognition to identify bird species from a repository of digital photos on its site.”The purpose of the platform is to help beginners and amateur birdwatchers identify birds easily,” says BNHS’ Bilwada Kale. For the likes of Rahulratan Chauhan, an avid bird watcher, the Internet of Birds is a “fresh initiative” that will help him deepen his hobby. “India has so far had nothing of this sort,” says the 32-year-old. “The platform is a novel way to identify various bird species. I am sure it will go a long way.”Of the 1,300 species of birds present in India, only 316 species’ information has been fed into the system, says Kale. But the platform, eight months in the making, has been designed for crowd sourcing so that if one uploads a photo of a bird, which isn’t in the system, it advises the person to contact a bird expert or BNHS. Additionally, it will tag the photo and contribute it to BNHS so information on the bird can be added to the database later.”Each time a picture is contributed to the system, it teaches itself, increasing accuracy in the recognition of bird species,” says Sanjay Podder, managing director of Accenture Labs India. “We use technology to educate people on nature. The platform is still in its developing stages and there’s lots more to come.”While the platform has been gaining the attention of nature lovers and bird watchers, users have been equally quick to offer suggestions. “The site is accurate but there can be more information in that it can educate the user about a few characteristics of the bird identified,” feels Chauhan, who uploaded several photographs of various bird species. “For example, it should tell me how I can better identify a particular bird from different angles in its natural environment.”Adesh Shivkar uploaded 30 photos of birds on Internet of Birds earlier this week but the professional photographer, bird watcher and director of bird watching tours organiser Nature India, came away a wee bit disappointed about how the information was structured. “On the site, bird names are listed alphabetically instead of being placed in family groups,” opines Shivkar. “For instance, the White Throated Kingfisher is placed below the White-Rumped Vulture and not with its family of Kingfishers — which are all jumbled. This makes it troublesome to identify how many species are there in each family.”Shivkar suggests that since India has so many bird species, the database would be better equipped to identify birds for amateurs if it has information of a majaority of birds. “It’s not pleasant to constantly be advised to connect with a bird expert,” he says, adding that since bird watchers are also travellers, the platform can be extended into an offline app since forests and remote birding environments don’t always have internet access.How to use Internet of Birds- Log onto the http://internetofbirds.com/- Click on the bird in the center of the screen and upload your image- Contribute to BNHS by sending your bird photos to [email protected]

Maharashtra tiger corridors to get 2-tier security force

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Maharashtra Forest Department will soon be setting up 100 Primary Response Teams (PRT) comprising of local villagers and three Rapid Response Team (RRT) manned by experts in a major move to tackle rising man-animal conflict in the wildlife corridor of Nagzira-Navegaon-Tadoba with the gradual rise in the tiger population.This is one of the several projects under the ambitious Rs 15 crore initiative titled ‘Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation and Livelihood Development Programme’, funded by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The project will be driven by a consortium of six NGOs, led by the state forest department in two prime tiger corridors, Nagzira-Navegaon-Tadoba and Melghat-Bor-Pench.The PRTs will include volunteers from villages volunteers, who will be trained to handle human-animal conflict situation before the forest department arrives. Besides first aid, they will also be given training in identifying animal signs, creating awareness in villages, crowd control.Similarly, there will be three well-equipped RRTs in Nawegaon-Nagzira, Nawegaon-Umred Karandla and Brahmapuri-Tadoba corridor sections, managed by Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) in coordination with the forest department.“Vehicles assigned to RRTs will be equipped with tranquillizer gun, trap cages, camera traps, nets, and public announcements systems. These will be manned by a veterinarian, a trained biologist and also a trained sociologist, for community engagement during conflict situation,” said Dr Mayukh Chatterjee, Head, Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation Division, Maharashtra’s project for WTI.According to a senior forest official, while at present the forest department sponsors the enrichment and protecting the core areas, several financial initiatives under various schemes are available for the villages in buffer zone.However, there is no scheme to reduce forest dependency of villagers settled in the corridors. “The corridors are degrading with forests being cleared, and the incidence of tigers or leopards being killed, in retaliation for loss of livestock or poaching, is high. Thus this is where this project will play a crucial role in helping protect the corridors,” he said.Senior forest officials state that this is the first time in India when major NGOs in the field like WTI, Wildlife Conservation Trust, Wildlife Research and Conservation Society, The Research and Conservation Trust, and Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) have come together for a project.Shree Bhagwan, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) said the main focus will be to involve local communities and aim at protection of corridors necessary for tiger movement, and also to ensure gene dispersal.“The development of habitats will help tigers and the creation of alternate livelihoods will help villages reduce their dependence on forests and bring down man-animal conflict,” he said

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