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Biodiversity Conservation and Management in Indian Culture and Tradition

February 26 All day

Speaker: 
Dr. U.M. Chandrasekara

Attendees: 44

Participants:
E4Life PhD students and CWEGE/Ammachi Labs PhD students

Bio: 
Dr. Chandrasekhara is with the Forest Ecology department and has two decades of research experience in Forest Ecology and Agroforestry. He has published extensively in the area of tropical forest ecology and biodiversity besides diversity and conservation of sacred groves in Kerala. He was elected as a Fellow of National Institute of Ecology, India and served as assistant editor for Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment of the International Society of Food, Agriculture and Environment. His primary areas of focus are Forest Ecology and Agroforestry, with expertise in the following fields:

  • Regeneration ecology.
  • Restoration ecology.
  • Eco-cultural analysis for forest conservation.
  • Interaction between aboveground and belowground biodiversity.
  • Environmental education with respect to biodiversity conservation and management.

Objective:
To learn about the Indian cultural traditions of protecting plant biodiversity.

Event/Session Details/Discussions/Highlights
Dr. Chandrasekhara gave an enlightening presentation on plant biodiversity in India and how Indian culture protects these ecosystems and groves. Due to diverse physical features and climatic conditions, there exists a variety of ecosystems within the country. These include wetlands and mangroves; shola, evergreen, and deciduous forests; grasslands, and deserts.  These ecosystems harbour and sustain high biodiversity and contribute to human well-being. People of India depend on fruits, grains, medicinal plants, fuel-wood, fodder, and green leaf manure for sustainment.

Here is a specific example of how several plant species can be utilized in India:

In India, there are a number of traditional ways that plant conservation is practiced. For example, sacred groves – these patches of forests that are protected by assigning them as the abode of gods or goddesses. Here is some data collected on plant species diversity in sacred groves:

Home gardens represent another way of traditional plant conservation practice:

This is only a sample from Dr. Chandrasekhara’s lecture. He further discussed the traditional practices of intercropping with shade tolerant and short duration crops, as well as the importance of maintaining this culture of India of plant conservation and management.

Outcome
The scholars were very impressed with Dr. Chandrasekhara’s research. They became hopeful that the cultural traditions around ecosystems and gardening will help preserve plant biodiversity in India.