The League of Extraordinary Individuals at BFA 2016
|1||Balipara Foundation Wild Life Conservation Award||Sendenyu Community Biodiversity and Wildlife Conservation Committee from Nagaland Read more||Bittu Sahgal|
|2||Balipara Foundation Naturenomics Award||Hong Village Community, Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh Read more||Rolf von Bueren|
|3||Balipara Foundation Green Legal Award||Rohit Choudhury Read more||Bruce Rich|
|4||Balipara Foundation Eastern Himalayan Conservation Award||Miksak Apal Natural Resource Management Group from Garo Hills, Meghalaya Read more||Szarita Laitphlang|
|5||The Balipara Foundation Green Guru Award||Purnima Devi Barman Read more||Nellie Ahmed Tanweer|
|6||Balipara Foundation young Naturalist Award||Sandeep Gurung from Sikkim Read more||Armstrong Pame|
|7||The Balipara Foundation Food for Future Award||Robin Naiding from Karbi Anglong, Assam Read more||Rolf von Bueren|
|8||The Balipara Foundation Nature Conservancy Award||Deben Bora Read more||Dr Chandrashekar Hariharan|
|9||The Balipara Foundation Forest Guard Award||Mr. Jigme Dorji from Bhutan Read more||Ms. Sunita Khaund Bhuyan|
|10||The Balipara Foundation Forest Guard Award||Ms Jayashree Naiding, IFS Officer from Assam Read more||Smt. Mala Ramdorai|
|11||The Balipara Foundation longest servicing Forest Guard Award||Sri Ramen Das from Kaziranga National Park, Assam Read more||Balipara Foundation|
|12||The Balipara Foundation Lifetime Service Award||Dr Tirtha Bahadur Shrestha Read more||Balipara Foundation|
“The power to make a difference lies within us all.”Nothing could demonstrate this fact more clearly than the recipients of this year’s Balipara Foundation Awards – ordinary men and women with extraordinary achievements.
The Balipara Foundation has been working with stakeholders for the last decade to protect the biodiversity of the eastern Himalayas – a natural heritage of the region. Mr Ranjit Barthakur, Founder & Managing Trustee of the Foundation, firmly believes in recognizing and honouring champions of the environment who have understood the interdependence between Nature and Economics (Naturenomics) and used its principles to make a real difference in their own communities. The Balipara Foundation Awards were launched in 2013 to honour such individuals and organizations across ten categories.
Founding Editor of Sanctuary Asia, Bittu Sahgal presents the Annual Balipara Foundation Award to Sendenyu Community Biodiversity and Wildlife Conservation Committee
Alarmed by the rapidly disappearing floral and faunal populations within a span of a generation due to excessive hunting, logging and jhum cultivation, Sendenyu Community Biodiversity & Wildlife Conservation Committee felt the need to take drastic steps to preserve and protect the biological diversity of the Sendenyu region. Conservation efforts and enforcement of rules in the village Protected Area and other community land have today resulted in the return of a diversity of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians that had once disappeared. Today, hunting is totally and indefinitely banned throughout their homeland.
The success of the Sendenyu Community Biodiversity Reserve in Nagaland as a model worthy of replication across India is due to the Committe’s vision to preserve and protect the rich biological diversity heritage of your community.
Rolf von Bueren from LADV, Thailand presents the Naturenomics Award to Hong Village Community from Zero, Arunachal Pradesh
One of the few people in the world who continue to live in harmony with nature, Hong Village Community’s’ methods of sustainable farming and social forestry is without a parallel anywhere in this world. Settled in Ziro, one of the most beautiful Himalayan valleys in India, the Village Community remains proud of their traditional history while maintaining a balance with the changing world. Built on flat lands, the farms where the community practice wet rice cultivation along with pisciculture, is an epitome of efficiency. The Viilage Community even use the elevated partition bunds between rice plots to grow millets. Using nature-friendly and sustainable techniques alone, they have successfully conserved forests around the valley, which serve as water sheds for streamlets flowing down to irrigate your fields. Their simple bamboo huts perched on top of vertical wooden stilts force us to rethink our consumerist approach towards living.
It is truly impressive how the community have used traditional methods to attain what modern machines and systems have been unable to!
Bruce Rich, environmental lawyer presents the Green Legal Award to Rohit Choudhury
Using a combination of the Right to Information Act (RTI Act) and litigation before the National Green Tribunal, Mr. Rohit Choudhury has highlighted several violations of law with respect to environmental issues in Assam before the courts over the past decade. He have been able to get significant decisions from the National Green Tribunal for protection of the Kaziranga National Park, Manas Tiger Reserve and surrounding areas by implementing No Development Zones, exposing illegal expansion of highways and large-scale deaths of wild animals and ensuring protective steps on the National Highway-37 to minimise road kills. Mr. Choudhury has also worked to stop polluting industries in the No Development Zone around Kaziranga. As a researcher with the EIA Resource and Response Centre (ERC), which is a program of Legal Initiative of Forest & Environment (LIFE), his principal focus is to creatively use the provisions of the RTI Act and the National Green Tribunal in protecting areas of vital ecological concern. In addition to focusing on North-eastern states, Mr. Rohit Choudhury has also assisted communities across the country in ensuring accountability and transparency in environmental governance.
Szarita Laitphlang,Secretary and Spokesperson MREGC, honours winner of The Eastern - Himalayan Conservation Award, Miksak Apal Natural Resource Management Group
Formed in 2004-2005, the Miksak Apal Natural Resource Management Group (NaRMG) trains the village community of Selbalgre in natural resource, organisation and financial management with an emphasis on the restoration of the environment along with improvement of livelihoods. Under their aegis, community members have taken over the conservation and management of the 35-hecatre Selbalgre Village Reserve Forest. Because of the efforts of Miksak Apal Natural Resource Management Group, the community conserved forest is now also home to elephants, wild pigs, monkeys, deer, different species of birds and reptiles, and even the endangered Hoolock gibbon. Tourists flock to the village from different parts of India to experience the serene beauty of Selbalgre.
They have proved that natural resources can be protected and conserved with the active participation of communities by making Selbalgre a model village for others to emulate.
Nellie Ahmed Tanweer, founder of the idea ‘Nature as our Classroom’ presents the Green Guru Award to Purnima Devi Barman for preserving the Greater Adjutant Stork in Assam
A guardian for the Greater Adjutant Stork in Assam, Purnima Devi Barman have campaigned relentlessly for the conservation of this rare species, influenced public opinion and boosted the chances of their survival. As a child growing up near the Palababari and Deepor Beel wetlands, Ms. Barman wondered about these birds and later as an adult, she returned to Deepor Beel with Aaranyak, an NGO working on biodiversity conservation and wildlife. A deep connect with the land and people, and her steely determination to protect this scavenging bird that is an important link in the food web, saw her receive a Conservation Leadership Award in 2009. The training programme that ensued in China was to be a turning point in Ms. Barman’s life and the lives of hundreds of Greater Adjutant Storks that got a lease of life. Realising that conserving the ‘hargila’ is impossible without the cooperation of local folk who own the trees where it builds its nest; she along with other members of Aaranyak befriended each tree-owner family, who now actively participate in the rescue and rehabilitation of baby storks that fall from their nesting trees. The Dadara community is today an exemplary role model for community conservation and she has deservedly received the sobriquet of ‘hargila baideu’ or Stork Sister.
From 28 nests in 12 trees in Dadara in 2006 to 171 nests in 55 trees in 2014, Ms. Barman’s story and that of the storks is so much more than just a local legend.
Armstrong Pame, the first IAS officer from Zemay Tribe of the Naga people, presents the young Naturalist Award to Sandeep Gurung from Sikkim
A writer and green activist, the seeds of Mr. Sandeep Gurung’s green consciousness were in many ways laid down by his parents. Mr. Gurung run Oh My India (OMI), a social group that creates awareness on the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling domestic waste, which has inspired thousands of individuals to change their lifestyles. He carved a niche for himself in the fashion world at a young age and is the owner of Green Gangtok – the first-of-its-kind eco- friendly fashion boutique in Sikkim. Mr. Gurung’s work has been featured in many leading newspapers of India and he actively writes on fashion and lifestyle topics for leading dailies in India and international journals. He has previously worked as a fashion editor for a publication in Bengaluru, and at present work as a special correspondent and columnist in Sikkim. Mr. Gurung’s writing reflects his love and care for the environment and his attempt to promote sustainable consumption among urban consumers is the need of the hour.
Rolf von Bueren, LADV, Thailand presents the Food for Future Award to Robin Naiding from Karbi Anglong, Assam
Realising the importance of natural resource management, Mr. Robin Naiding have encouraged and sensitised the village community of Bagadima comprising 42 households in Assam to create less pressure on forest cover and make the best use of land and its resources in a sustainable manner. He have promoted horticulture crops such as litchi, mango, banana, and parkia in his village with organic management of soil fertility and used cover crops to reduce weed growth and soil erosion. Under the leadership of Mr. Naiding, the community has planted various forest species in fallow land, water catchment area and community conserved area and learned the importance of benefit sharing mechanisms.
Mr. Robin Naiding is a living example of how to change the mindset of a community towards the importance of environment protection and climate change mitigation.
Deben Bora was presented the Nature Conservancy Award by Dr Chandrashekar Hariharan,Balipara Foundation’s Gautam Baruah received the award on his behalf
After joining the Jakhalabandha Police Station as the officer-in-charge in 2014, Mr. Deben Bora have been on a single-minded mission to thwart rhino poaching attempts in the Kaziranga National Park. Realising that the Burapahar and Bagari range were poaching hotspots, Mr. Bora developed effective mitigation measures relying on his experience. He organised awareness meetings in villages near poaching-dominated areas, deployed armed personnel on National Highway 37 to keep a watch on poachers coming from Manipur and Dimapur and arranged for 15 village defence parties for highway patrolling. Mr. Deben Bora deserves the credit for apprehending more than 130 poachers and recovering ammunition from them. It was under his leadership that the Assam police conducted search operations in Manipur and Nagaland for the first time sending a stern message to poachers that these places were no longer safe havens for them.
Mr. Bora have gone beyond his line of duty time and again because he firmly believes that the coming generations should see the one-horned rhino in flesh and blood, rather than in museums or books of extinct species.
Mr. Jigme Dorji was presented the Forest Guard Award by Ms. Sunita Khaund Bhuyan
In a career spanning the last 20 years, Mr. Jigme Dorji joined the Bhutan Forest Service Department as a Range Officer and now serves as Head, Communities, Recreation and Development Section, Park Headquarter, Royal Manas National Park. Apart from carrying his official activities in an impeccable manner, Mr. Dorji have made a mark as a forest officer who has worked closely with the local communities and has advocated science-based conservation research and action. His seminal work on conservation of the critically endangered White-bellied Heron and ecotourism initiatives have given him much appreciation from his peers, seniors and civil society in his home country. Mr. Jigme Dorji is truly a champion for trans-boundary cooperation in the Eastern Himalaya.
Ms.Jayashree Naiding was presented the Forest Guard Award by Smt. Mala Ramdorai
When a male rhino strayed into Tezpur town from Kaziranga National Park on June 26, 2016, it was under the leadership of Jayashree Naiding that it was driven back safely into the park. She led the staff and followed the rhino from Digali Chapori, Sri Lanka tapu and then back to Kaziranga. The following day when another rhino strayed into the Sootea area of Bebejia village, she showed exemplary spirit of leadership in coordinating with the police, CRPF, civil administration and NGOs to tranquilise the animal and taking it to the Guwahati state zoo. Ms. Jayashree Naiding recently successfully investigated and arrested the seven accused in rhino poaching case reported from Sootea.
Sri Ramen Das was awarded the longest servicing Forest Guard Award
Mr. Ramen Das is the longest-serving officer in Kaziranga National Park. When he served as the Range Officer Western Range, Bagori, it was because of his information network and intelligence base that several rhino poachers could be arrested. He recently led his team to Conoor in Tamil Nadu, arrested two accused in the poaching of a female rhino and her calf in Western Range Bagori and produced them before the Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Kaliabor.
Dr Tirtha Bahadur Shrestha was given the Balipara Foundation Lifetime Service Award for his inimitable conservation work in the Eastern Himalayas, he calls ‘the abode of biodiversity’
A leading authority on Nepal’s biodiversity and taxonomic classification, Dr. Tirtha Bahadur Shrestha has devoted his entire life to the conservation of biological diversity and ecosystems in the eastern Himalaya. The foremost botanist and a hero of environmental conservation of endemic plant species in Nepal, Dr. Shrestha served as the team leader for the creation of Makalu-Barun National Park and has helped to classify major forests in the country throughout his career. As the author of Nepal's Country Report on Biodiversity, Dr. Shrestha has conducted the classification of rare and endangered taxa across the country. Not only that, he have authored more than 20 books, and hundreds of articles, containing new discoveries, concepts and ideas that he have helped mainstream through education and journalism. Your management plans positing that indigenous wisdom is needed to create locally-viable solutions for Nepal’s national parks were way ahead of its time.
Each of the individuals and groups who were conferred with the Awards truly believe that “conservation is the state of harmony between Man and Nature.” They belong to the league of extraordinary individuals who believe in actions, not words, and serve as an inspiration to us all.
Sarita Dasgupta Kolkata