Waatavaran’s ‘Adivasis for Forests’ Initiative In Partnership With Raigad Administration Receives International Support
“The larger goal of the Adivasis for Forest is management and conservation of forests by reversing the migration of tribals in the Raigad district” – Ms. Aditi Tatkare, the state Minister & guardian minister, Raigad.
Ms. Aditi Tatkare, State Minister of Maharashtra & Guardian Minister, Raigad
“Traditional knowledge of tribal communities is necessary for conserving and protecting forests and biodiversity across the globe” – Mr. Bhagwan Kesbhat, CEO & Founder of Waatavaran
In order to undo the historic injustice to the tribal communities and to ensure their upliftment, Waatavaran Foundation, with the help of the Raigad district administration, has taken the responsibility of effective implementation of Forest Rights Act 2006. A joint effort from Canadian Administration (Canada High Commission), Vikas Sahyog Pratishthan, US-based Cadasta Foundation and Mumbai-based Waatavaran Foundation, this campaign was launched digitally at 5:30 pm on 16th November, 2021.
Hon. Aditi Tatkare, State Minister and Guardian Minister, Raigad District, declared the launch of the campaign in presence of Michael Vonk, Political, Economic and Public Affairs Officer at the Consulate General of Canada in Mumbai, Mr. Mohan Surve, CEO, Vikas Sahyog Pratishthan will address the audience, Ms. Amy Coughenour Betancourt, CEO of Cadasta Foundation and Bhagwan Kesbhat (Founder and CEO, Waatavaran Foundation).
Michael Vonk, Political, Economic and Public Affairs Officer at the Consulate General of Canada in Mumbai
Hon. Guardian Minister, Aditi Tatkare stated that this initiative provides essential forest rights to tribal communities and ensures their upliftment. For a long time, tribal communities were left out of mainstream society. The lack of educated people in this community has resulted in serious problems like migration and malnutrition. This initiative would prove beneficial for tribal communities that have been deprived of education, social and economic development for a very long time. Now that we have realised the importance of forests, it is time to empower the true guardians of the forest. This will help to decelerate climate change and gives us a chance to reestablish a balance between nature and mankind, she added.
Bhagwan Kesbhat, CEO and Founder of Waatavaran Foundation said that, “In the last few years, one million natural species have become extinct due to climate change and loss of natural habitats. Forests play a huge role in alleviating the impact of global warming. Hence it is essential to not only preserve the existing green cover but also to increase it as much as possible. This however, will not be possible without the active involvement and support of the indigenous communities. In addition, monetary support through government schemes towards afforestation practices will boost the livelihoods of this community. Through financial support by the High Commission of Canada in India and technological support from Cadasta Foundation this project is expected to gain momentum in the next few months.”
“As the forests rights act is implemented across various blocks, it will empower communities, boost their livelihoods and improve conservation efforts. In addition, the geospatial technology and digital tools will allow local authorities to make data-based decisions,’ said Amy Coughenour Betancourt.
Michael Vonk, thanked all partners for conceptualising this important project and developing a comprehensive set of activities that will support securing of land ownership among indigenous communities through GIS-based mapping technology and empowering communities through sustainable livelihood practices. He further added that the Raigad district administration is a crucial partner and it is through a collaborative approach that we will see sustainable progress to the indigenous communities in the region.
Ms. Tatkare announced the official launch of the campaign and expressed her hope that this campaign would prove to be a stepping stone towards a statewide campaign in Maharashtra.
Rahul Sawant is a Campaigner for Waatavaran Foundation.