- What is the importance of community empowerment in ecosystem restoration projections? How do you apply it in your work at the Prameya Foundation? Any advice to share?
We have all realized that there is an ardent need to conserve the world’s biodiversity areas more than ever, and the world’s indigenous communities have a vital role to play. For millennia these communities around the world have been maintaining a judicious balance between their needs and the corresponding needs of nature and have lived in “harmony with nature”. These communities contribute the least to global climate change but are the worst affected by its consequences. Their vital role in protecting nature is often undervalued, and many of these communities also lack access to basic services like education, health, proper housing, and employment opportunities. Without adequate protection and improvement in their standards of living, no conservation goal can ever succeed.
As such, Prameya Foundation‘s conservation efforts are community-based, focusing on improved access to basic services and self-sufficiency through community education and empowerment projects, such as the creation of self-sufficient eco-villages, thus conserving nature and its resources.
- Inclusive participation of youth, women, and indigenous local communities is at the core of your activities. Why is it so important to you and what initiatives are you the proudest of?
We believe that youth, women, and indigenous local communities are nature’s strongest allies. Their relation to the mud, mangroves, and fauna makes them an important aspect of our conservation activities. Without their support or inclusion, conserving the mangrove region would be a Herculean task.
One initiative we are particularly proud of is the Prameya Mangrove Nursery – which is a community-based initiative of collection of mangrove propagules and their subsequent storage and plantation. It began as a small-scale mangrove nursery with the help of schoolchildren, which has now shaped into a mass movement in the village of Tridipnagar, Jharkhali in the Sundarbans. We were able to successfully conserve and restore the mangroves over an area of 5 acres, which is still expanding. The said movement has also been recognized and appreciated by the Government and Quasi-Government bodies. At present, the entire village has joined hands to establish a nursery in every household. This has in turn protected the lives of the villagers from unprecedented cyclones which hit the southern coast of Bengal in recent years.