Make Everyday an Environment Day

“We have always liked to believe that every day is an environment day’”
“We need to re–invent sustainable agriculture, so that it can meet the needs of millions, but does not cost us the Earth”– Sunita Narain

On this World Environment Day, let’s understand how we are not building green space and continue to waste our natural resources. Why everyday should be a world environment day and not a single day dedicated to solutions and actions. Why we need to be conscious of our actions, of how we think, eat and save without depleting our “nature capital”. The global rate of species extinction is escalating and is now estimated to be up to 1000 times the natural rate. Biodiversity has continued to decline globally. The risks of environmental degradation, our unsustainable actions and lack of strong policies and reforms put life on Earth at risk. Our air is toxic, water is contaminated, forests are barren, urbanization is unplanned, species are endangered and the ecosystem is unbalanced.

India’s forests now cover only 21.34% of the country
Every Second a football field of rainforest is destroyed for animal agriculture
Experts estimate that we are losing 137 plant, animal, and insect species every single day due to rainforest deforestation
About 95% of the water entering our homes goes down the drain
More than 25% of the active ingredients in our medicines come from rainforest deforestation

While we hope and stand to create a green environment, we belong to a land where tree crops are crashed every single day, where elephants are killed for their ivory and where the impact of ecosystem destruction leads to increased flooding due to the erosion of soil and lack of trees. Add to that, the current model of development is based on the wasteful use of resources. It uses huge resources and generates enormous waste. Its emissions have put the entire world’s climatic system at risk and made millions living on the margins of survival even more vulnerable and poor. While farmers are the backbone of the nation, technological advancement in agriculture fails to pass down to the small farmers and subsidization is costing us the Earth.  

Food wastage in India costs Rupees 1 Lakh Crore Every Year
25 per cent of fresh water, used to produce food, is ultimately wasted, even as millions of people still don’t have access to drinking water
Nearly 300 million barrels of oil used to produce food is also ultimately wasted

“Poor farmers of the world have to compete in the distorted food market and have no option then to be able to use overuse the natural resources”- Sunita Narain

Meet Mr. Robin Naiding who is the first settler in Bagadima Village, Dima Hasao. Realizing the importance of Natural Resource Management, he encouraged and sensitized the whole village community of Bagadima (comprising of 42 households) to create less pressure on the forest cover and make the best use of land and its resources in a sustainable manner (participatory land use planning).

Robin Naiding planted various native tree saplings within the village and he helped distribute around 500 saplings to other villagers and nearby areas. However, Robin Naiding shares how we are not building a green space. He says, “Shifting cultivation, collection of forest produce and hunting are the main source of livelihood leading to unsustainable forest management practices and these only provide short-term benefit and resulting to the disappearance of forest resources and low productivity of jhum produces.”

Extensive forest cover was destroyed for the purpose of shifting cultivation and there had been no management of jhum and fallow land.  Besides shifting cultivation and traditional food crops, Mr. Naiding has little or no idea of other horticulture/ agriculture crops which could improve or change their livelihood. In spite of hard day labours work throughout the year, food security was still a big issue for every household in the village with a meager annual income of Rs 5000 – Rs 10,000 per household and just handful of grains to feed themselves. The village had hardly any horticultural plantation, kitchen garden, neither proper house for shelter nor any sanitation facilities and due to extensive deforestation, water source (water catchment area) has started drying up.

Sustainable agricultural development and food security will be one of the key challenges for India in this century. About 70% of the India’s populations are living in rural area with agriculture as their livelihood support system. The vast number of Indian farmers are poor and their farm size is decreasing further due to population growth and land degradation caused by heightened nutrient mining, soil erosion, increasing water scarcity, adverse impacts of climate change and accumulation of toxic elements in soil and water. Land degradation, like climate change, is an anthropogenic induced process and possesses biggest threat to sustainable livelihood security of the farming communities across the country. All these factors combined with increased rate of land degradation are contributing towards decline in agricultural productivity leading to food insecurity.  Since land resources are finite, requisite measures are required to reclaim degraded and wastelands, so that areas going out of cultivation due to social andeconomic reasons are replenished by reclaiming these lands and by arresting further loss of production potential.

At least 40 per cent of the world’s economy and 80 per cent of the needs of the poor are derived from biological resources. Ecosystems provide life-sustaining services, many communities have been developed and their livelihoods built around it and maintaining our biodiversity helps us respond to changing and unforeseen environmental conditions. For the generations to come, in order to survive and prosper, we must urgently change our course towards a healthy planet and everyday work towards a stable environment where humans and environment thrive together. This means preserving biodiversity and lightening humanity’s impact on natural habitats- starting now. The success holds in building sustainable landscape mosaics, designing conservation strategies, advocating favorable policies that support biodiversity conservation.

In the Eastern Himalayas, we are committed to preserving and conserving our natural resources and foster sustainable development. Everything humans have needed to survive, and thrive, is provided by the natural world around us: food, water, medicine, materials for shelter, and even natural cycles such as climate and nutrients. We are partnering each day with farmers and local communities to protect that planet that feeds us, grow more trees through our afforestation projects, restore our rich biodiversity, preserve our natural resources for our future generations, learn and educate through nature, and more importantly connect people to people who nurture nature for community development and upliftment. 

 

We are the creators of tomorrow
We are the builders who would create a sustainable roadmap for our backbone farmers and communities
Think permaculturally
Live sustainably
Make every day an Environment Day

Written by: 

Karishma Ahmed

Varsha Wadhwani

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