Bangalore International Centre had arranged a talk on “Conservation in Forests and Cities” by Dr. Harini Nagendra, Urban Ecology Coordinator, ATREE, Bangalore on Friday, 26th November, 2010 at 6:30 pm.
Dr. Nagendra highlighted the fact in her talk that the preservation of nature is essential for the future of humankind. She said the trees in our cities and communities are a vital component of our forests which provide a wide array of benefits including cleaner air and water, wildlife habitat, temperature moderation and others. At the same time, there are compulsions which have led people to destroy forests from time to time. It is therefore essential for the state to step in to conserve forests in the greater interests of mankind. At the same time, the communities should also work in tandem with the Government to protect the forests.
Government has more resources and more capabilities, but a top down approach. Communities have greater collective action and a more cohesive approach. She provided two narratives from India and Nepal to show how different approaches work, and came to the conclusion that governments can successfully protect forests but often need the help of guards, guns and fences. Community - managed forests on the other hand, rely more on self-restrictions and comprehensive social acceptance of the behavioral norms.
Highlighting the destruction of tree-covers and urban forests in the rapidly growing Bangalore agglomeration, Dr. Harini pointed out how the “garden city” has become a concrete jungle where air has become polluted, water has become scarce and the climate has inexorably changed to bring in what could be termed as an unhealthy habitat. Yet, it was not doomsday yet. She was positive that regeneration of tree and forest covers in both urban and rural areas was possible and that there were hopeful developments in and around the country where right- thinking individuals and social groups were joining hands with the government to create a better and healthier environment. She urged the select audience present to hear her to be a part of this movement.
It was an evening which made one think.