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close this bookBiodiversity in the Western Ghats: An Information Kit (IIRR, 1994, 224 p.)
close this folder9. Appreciating and conserving biodiversity
View the document9.1 Biodiversity and the media
View the document9.2 Role of non-government organizations in conservation
View the document9.3 Watershed management
View the document9.4 Energy conservation and alternatives
View the document9.5 Nature trails
View the document9.6 Sacred groves
View the document9.7 Rehabilitation of iron ore mine wasteland in Goa
View the document9.8 Reforestation to restore mining areas
View the document9.9 Mining: Social and environmental impacts
View the document9.10 Resource utilization in Uttar Kannada district
View the document9.11 Biodiversity of Dudhsagar valley

9.10 Resource utilization in Uttar Kannada district

Uttar Kannada district

Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka State lies in the central part of the Western Ghats. The district is typical of the whole region. It has three main agroclimatic zones: coastal, hills and eastern transitional.

This is a region of gently undulating hills rising to about 600 metres and merging with the Deccan plateau. The coastal strip is narrow. The total area is 10,220 km², of which 7000 km² is forested. The population is 1,200,000 people, of whom 75% live in villages.

The district has four main west-flowing rivers. Their small but numerous tributaries in the hill zone make the region ideal for watershed approaches in development and management.

Resource utilization and management

Resource utilization in Uttar Kannada should follow three main principles:

· The development, management and utilization of resources should be on the basis of watersheds.

· The approach should be an integrated one.

· The criteria should be people's co-existence with the nature and the sustainable utilization of natural resources.

Only by properly managing natural resources can we preserve or improve on biodiversity.

Forest lands in Uttar Kannada

Reserved Forest

5000 km²

Minor forest

1500 km²

Protected forest ("Betta" lands)

500 km²

Conservation areas

Areas of strict preservation

These areas should be set aside for strict nature conservation. Nature should be left to its own course: there should be no human interference. Even dead logs must be allowed to rot. Traditional sacred groves, natural springs and other water bodies are to be identified and preserved: This will provide information on natural processes (such as climatic change) which may affect biodiversity.

Extractive reserves

Biodiversity in these reserves is to be protected. Local people may be allowed to benefit from non-wood forest resources. But this extraction must be in a sustainable manner and leave sufficient opportunity for rejuvenation. Timber, fuelwood and industrial needs may also be met from these reserves by harvesting and removing excess outputs.

Multipurpose areas

These areas should support water resources, timber production, wildlife, pasture and tourism on a sustained basis. The emphasis is on the use of resources through economic activities for local and regional development. Integral to this is the role of local people in the management of such areas.

Privately owned area

The role of private land in conservation is often overlooked. Through zoning and other forms of regulation, private lands can be developed in such a way as to support surrounding conservation efforts. A watershed approach will help ensure the proper integration of public, private and communally held lands for conservation.

Technology options

Energy-saving devices such as "Astra" chulas, gobar gas plants, solar and other non-conventional cookers should be popularized. Appropriate housing technologies should be provided. Kissan and school nurseries for trees are to be encouraged. These activities help reduce energy consumption by reducing waste and increasing efficiency in use. Nurseries can help speed up natural forest regeneration.

Sustainable agriculture

The dependency on forest resources for agriculture and horticulture should be minimized. Farmers must be encouraged to cultivate their own land intensively and in a sustainable manner, for instance by growing fodder grasses and trees, cropping fruits and vegetables, using multi-storey and mixed crop patterns, and mulching crops.

Soil and water conservation

Soil conservation and water management measures should be introduced. Better drainage systems and other measures of water management such as water recycling and the proper use of percolation tanks should be emphasized.

Animal husbandry

Various practices can improve livestock husbandry. These include stall feeding, controlling livestock populations, improving breeds, growing fodder in waterlogged areas and at the edges of cultivated land, and cultivating fodder trees. Co-operative marketing systems can be established, and better management practices can be introduced through extension and training.

All of these technologies can help improve the productivity of land, thereby reducing the need for new land. This reduces pressure for the conversion of existing natural areas, thus promoting the conservation of biodiversity.

Human resource management

Centralized, bureaucratic practices in both natural resource management and human resources management should be reduced. The active and effective involvement of local people in particular and the general public is necessary in planning and implementing natural resource management policies. Cooperative organizations should be established and involved in marketing. Other non-government and voluntary organisations, including youth clubs and educational institutions, must also be directly involved.

Village-level natural resource management committees should be set up so that local people can participate in planning, developing, managing, protecting and utilizing the natural resources. There should be an environmental policy implementing and enforcing forum at the district level.

Old but useful customs-and traditions must be suitably utilized in managing and developing both natural and human resources. Examples are the practice of "Pavitra Vana", indigenous herbal medicines, religious customs in preserving certain rare species of fruits and flowers, and traditional methods of cultivation and preservation which have proven sustainable over the years.

A new process of technology transfer must be envisaged. To bridge the gap between the lab and village, we must establish village technology demonstration centres. Educational institutions at village centres can play a vital role in this respect.

Public awareness-raising and education should be done on a massive scale. The services of educational institutions and other non-government voluntary organizations should be properly utilized for this. Both rural and urban people should be trained in ways to conserve biological resources and the environment.

Uttar Kannada district

Prepared by Raghupati Hegde