I have been associated with civil society organizations working on community-based biodiversity conservation in India since 2000. Over the last 12 years I have gathered hands-on experience by working with local communities and documenting ecological knowledge and practice, and I also have some experience in policy related to biodiversity conservation.
My applied research has focused on the registration of farmer’s seed varieties, documentation of livelihood implications under the 2006 Forest Rights Act, analysis of annual ritual hunting in Orissa and a socioeconomic study of an indigenous cattle breed in a district in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The Master’s degree in Development Studies I am pursuing at ISS in the Hague is critical for me to deepen my understanding of social and economic development.
I have contributed to the conceptual development of the People’s Biodiversity Registers which are recognized under India’s 2002 Biodiversity Act. I hope to lead and indeed interact with like-minded people, while consolidating an understanding of local communities, environmental and development issues.
[Update October 2014]: Looking at ground implementation of the Forest Rights Act, my work in Maharashtra gave me insight into the difficulties the community faces, especially in the context of linking conservation to income generation and markets. After completing this assignment, and as an independent consultant, I worked on a CABI project, Direct2Farm, which involved research and outreach to farmers on crop production and protection. The experience provided me first hand exposure to ICT in knowledge dissemination.
As a consultant, I am currently working on two participatory biodiversity conservation projects in Maharashtra, and a project on planning for livelihood strengthening of forest dependent communities in Gujarat; both these states are in western India. In Gujarat, my work includes helping two local grass root NGOs develop long term projects on honey collection and bamboo baskets.
I continue to contribute towards other conservation projects. I recently conducted a stakeholder analysis for a proposed coastal and marine protected area, and am also involved in the preparation of a conservation action plan for two critically endangered vulture species, Gyps bengalensis and Gyps indicus; over the last two decades, 95% of the populations of these two species have vanished.