INTEREST: Interactions between the Environment,
Society and Technology
The project's objective is to generate tools for knowledge dissemination that will support improved ecosystem management for sustainability. This will be achieved by:
Assessing changes in the ecosystem by understanding and analyzing
TERI is working with three ecosystems: degraded bamboo forests in Haryana, small-scale farming systems in the peri-urban and rural areas of Karnataka, and degraded Indian aquaculture systems. TERI proposes to study the following questions:
What is the level of dependence of local communities on the
ecosystems being studied?
The overall approach has been to combine participatory techniques with questionnaires to capture the qualitative and quantitative dimensions of the issues. Methods used for collecting data are:
Field visits/collecting/analyzing information/data about study areas
A brief summary of research findings is presented below:
Agricultural ecosystems in Thekkate and Ulthoor of Udupi district in Karnataka, provide food security to marginal farmers in the region. Agriculture does not support the production of surplus food for commercial gains. There is moderate use of modern technology or western science in the region. Organic manure is traditionally used for nutrient enrichment but the use of chemical fertilizers by some farmers, in recent years has enhanced the productivity to some extent. Pesticides are not extensively used. Many farmers report the use of high yielding varieties of crops. Affordability and lack of sufficient knowledge are major limitations to the use of modern technology. There are no major environmental impacts of agricultural activity in the region. Use of organic manure ensures waste recycling. Cow dung is also used for biogas production, which is a source of fuel for the households. Irrigation is manual, in the absence of rain. Land use and cover change is an emerging issue in the study area.
The khazan ecosystem is one of the important resources in our study area i.e. Divar Island. It has worked traditionally, on the principle of equitable sharing of resources and co-existence of fishers and farmers. In recent years, the locals have become increasingly involved in the tertiary sector and traditional sources of livelihood, especially agriculture, have become secondary sources of income. However, there is a growing interest in aquaculture in the younger generation. Salinization of land due to intrusion of saline water through breached bunds is a major concern. Technology used in Divar is largely traditional, with only one farm using modern intensive aquaculture technology. Traditional aquaculture has minimal external inputs since the feed and seed supply is natural. Fishes feed on organic biomass, derived from paddy straw in the field. This allows the straw waste to be recycled and so the traditional system is in keeping with the integrated agriculture-aquaculture approach advocated by modern science. Feedback loops are present between the different components. Sluice gates protect the fields from flooding; money for maintenance of sluice gates as well as khazan lands is raised by auctioning fishing rights and in turn, khazan fields provide biomass i.e. feed for growth of fish. There are unwritten rules for harvesting fish. Only the fish that migrates back for recruitment to the stock is caught. There is a ban on fishing in fields during monsoon that serves a dual purpose; it protects juvenile fish and fish larvae as well as agricultural fields.
Bamboo forest ecosystem
The bamboo ecosystem is a source of livelihood to the Bhanjda community of Haryana. This community depends completely on bamboo basket-making for its sustenance and employment. The main issues in joint forest management are irrigation water from water harvesting dams, grass for fodder, bhabbar grass for rope-making and bamboo for basket-making. Because the locals depend heavily on forest resources, most issues relate to the community's availability and access to them. The incentives offered as part of the JFMP (Joint Forest Management Programme) are: water harvesting structures, bhabbar and fodder grass leases, and bamboo permits at concessional rates. These have helped to uplift the local communities economically and improve their lifestyles. The Bhanjda community has several concerns: First, the lack of a good marketing system coupled with a seasonal demand for baskets and the inability to hold stock means that it is difficult to control the market price. Second, the social structure and caste system discourage benefit-sharing. The indigenous technology used for basket-making by the Bhanjda community is fast disappearing. Third, soil erosion, which is a major environmental problem in the forest. Bamboo helps control soil erosion through its rhizomes and intricate root system.
The links between community and institutions
are not strong enough to allow the community to benefit from development schemes. Sharing
of benefits and diversification of resources are urgent needs. The Haryana Resource
Management Society, has, to some extent, assured equity in benefit-sharing. The Joint
Forest Management Programme has contributed to the sustainable use of forest resources.