Going Hand in Hand - A Grass Root Intiative with Integrated Solutions for Forests and Sustainable Farming

Conserving the forests of the Gadoli and Manda Khal Fee Simple Estates is important not only for it's ecosystem services but also for the vital ecological benefits that they provide. Active conservation involves local - based grass root level initiatives which as time progresses benefit local communities in peripheral villages as well these forests serving as a refuge for wild flora and fauna.

With the UN General Assembly adopting the Sustainable Development Goals just last month the role of forests in achieving these goals is clearly being recognized as experts strive to find integrated solutions.

Incorporating principles of sustainable development along with the preservation and conservation of forests and natural resources, a small but noteworthy sustainable agriculture project is being carried out in the Gadoli Fee Simple Estate through The Gadoli and Manda Khal Wildlife Conservation Trust.

Largely employing women from underprivileged sections of hill society this project recognizes that protecting biodiversity and sustainable agricultural practices go hand in hand through local - based grass - root initiatives. The project also brings to the fore the social principles of gender equality and empowerment focusing on traditional farming techniques which have been developed in these mountainous regions over centuries.

Hill Women harvesting Mint as a part of the Sustainable Farming Initiative

With a no-go policy on the growing Genetically Modified crops this organic framing initiative seeks to preserve local varieties of  grain and seasonal hill vegetables. Adding flavor to the initiative is the organic cultivation of the famed aromatic plants - Chamomile and Mint.

Organically grown Wheat

Chamomile Fields

The benefits have been manifold with a high level of  insect diversity being recorded here which helps maintain a healthy ecosystem. With no pesticides being used in the area, dragon flies, bees and butterflies are in plentiful increasing crop yield through pollination and natural control of crop predators.

Bees pollinate Coriander increasing crop yields

Dragon Flies - Indicators of a healthy ecosystem keeps predators at bay

Of course with no chemicals or pesticides entering the food chain from this project, environmental and health benefits are many as we move forward in protecting and conserving biodiversity where forests and farms both have a large role to play.

Insect diversity has increased due to no-go policy on use of chemicals and pesticides

Well to sum it up this is an important example of local - based grass root initiatives which bring to the fore integrated solutions where forests and sustainable farming go hand in hand.