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Supporting and multiplying concern for sustainable Development – Experiences of Kodaikanal Botanical Garden Project V.S. Manickam, S. Seeni, Lucy Sutherland and Julia Willison Introduction The publication of a book entitled a “Tragedy of the Commons” by a British Scientist, Barry Commoner, has roused world–wide interest in protecting our environment and conserving especially the biodiversity of the earth. Since 1969 when the first conference on Biosphere was held in Paris, a series of international organization such as UNESCO, IUCN, UNEP, WCS, WWF, BGCI and UNCED have had organized international forums to discuss issue like Environmental Education at school level, Conservation of Biodiversity, Environment and Development, renewing altitudes of human relationship to nature at the individuals, national and international levels, investing in nature with the aim of protecting our environment from overexploitation by human kind and restoring the degraded ecosystems to their pristine glory. The biodiversity convention held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, where most president, Prime ministers and politicians of several countries and scientists took part, decided to prevent undue use of bioresources and pollution of soil, air and water to satisfy men’s consumeristic tendency and also emphasized sustainable utilization of bioresources on the earth. The Biodiversity convention was hold again in Johannsberg, South Africa in September, 2002 to assess the execution of the resolutions taken 10 years ago. At present only 12 percent of the plants and animal species of the earth are named. Classified and described while every day we lose three species of plants and animals which have not been named and described. Today, 32798 species of plants and animals are in endangered list. In the next 2-3 decades, global extinction of plants may average 2000 species annually. According to IUCN, 60,000 plant species may become extinct before the middle of the present century. In India which harbours 8% of the recorded flora of the world, 27,000 hectares of a forest are destroyed every year. In India about 40 millions tribals and forest dwellers derive their earnings from non-wood forest products. In 1965, the state of Kerala 41.5% the land forested but in 1992 only 11% of the land is forested. In the East-Coast of Tamil Nadu, 70% of the 15,000 ha of mangrove forest has been destroyed. In India 5,00,000 ha of forest has been destroyed for construction of dams. In Nilgiris, a mountain in the Western Ghats of India, 20,000 ha are cultivated with tea. India is poorest in the world as far as per Capita forest is concerned. The per capita forest land is 0.10 hectare compared to the world average of 1.00 ha. During a period of 25 years, (1951-1976) India has lost 4.1 millions hectares of forest area. India consumes nearly 170 millions tons of fire wood annually and 10–15 millions hectares of forest cover is being stripped every year to meet fuel requirements. According to Brewbakar (1984) the total forest area of the world in 1990 was nearly 7000 m ha. By 1975 it was reduced to 2890 m ha and by 2000 it has been reduced to 2370 m ha. The tropical rainforest originally was 1600 m ha and by 1975 it was reduced to 938 m ha. In 3000 BC, 80% of India was covered with forest but now only 16% of the land i.e. 75.18 millions hectare is forested. The air pollution is ever on the increase particularly by green house effect, acid rain and Ozone depletion. Nearly 100 years ago the Carbondioxide leave was 275 ppm. Today it is 350 ppm and by 2040 it is expected to reach 450 ppm. Today, the earth’s average temperature is 15C and by 2040 it would increase by 4.5C. If fleating Western i.e. sheet could begin to melt, sea – level would increase. US will produce less grains and India’s monsoon rains may cease altogether. Now scientists have foretold that after another 20 years, there will be no drinking water in India. And have also foretold that the city of Coimbatore will became a desert after 50 years. According to and estimate, if all the ice on the earths should melt 200 feet of water would be added to the surface of all oceans and low lying coastal cities like Bangkrak and Venice would be inundated. Due to green House effect there may occur more hurricanes and cyclones and early snow melts is mountain causing more floods during monsoons. Oxides of Sulphur and Nitrogen are important gaseous pollutants of the air Sophuric acid and nitric acids are the two main elements which dissolve in the water in the atmosphere and fall to the ground as acid rains. Acid rains increase soil acidity, thus affecting land flora and fauna. They cause acidification of lakes and streams thus effecting aquatic life, crop productivity and human health. They corrode buildings, bridges fences, railing etc. Thousands of lakes in USA, Canada and Norway have become unproductive due to acidity. The fish population has decreased precipitously. Many bacteria and blue green algae have been exterminated due to acidification, resulting in ecological imbalance. The Ozone layer in the stratosphere protects us from harmful UV radiation emanating from the sun. Though small in proportion (0.02 – 0.07) ppm has catastrophic effects on the life systems of the planet. Over the last, few years the Ozone concentration of the earth’s atmosphere in thinning out. Major pollutants responsible for the depletion of Ozone are Chlorofloro carbons, Nitrogen oxides and Hydrocarbons. Supersonic aircrafts flying through the stratosphere cause major disturbance in the Ozone level. Since increase of temperature in the stratosphere is due to heat absorption by Ozone, reduction in Ozone would lead to temperature changes and rainfall failures on earth. One percent reduction in Ozone increase UV radiation on earth by two percent. This causes melanoma, a skin cancer. The Western Ghats of India The Himalayas and the Western Ghats are two of the 18 megabiodiversity centres in the world. The Western Ghats stretching between Kanyakumari in the Southern most part and Gujarat in the north has a length of 1600 km and an area of 1,60,000 sq. km. the highest peak south of Himalayas is the Anamudi rising to 2695 in above sea level near Munnar in the Idukki District of the state of Kerala. The Ghats have a 40 km wide gap separating Nilgiris and Anamalayas. In the Western Ghats the high altitude mountains are situated in Southern India. They are Coorg (1500 km), Nilgiris (2400 km), Anamalays (2300 m), Palnis (2350 m) and Agasthiarmalai hills (1689 m). The Western Ghats harbour about 4000 flowering plants and 326 pteridophytes. In the Western Ghats 58 genera including 1500 species are endemic. Nilgiris and Agasthiamalai are the two hot – spots of endemics in the Western Ghats. The Nilgiris house about 3500 species of higher plants and 144 pteridophytes. The Anamalai harbours about 1800 species, the Palnis 2378 species and the Agasthiamalai has about 2000 species. In the Western Ghats of Maharashtra 102 higher plants are endemic, in Karnataka, 96 endemics, in Nilgiris 92 endemics, in Anamalays 58 endemics, in Palni 65 endemics and in Agasthiamalai 189 endemics. Seventy five percent of the endemics of peninsular India are confined to the Western Ghats. There are 26 pteridophytes in Gujerat, 64 pteridophytes in Maharashtra, 53 pteridophytes in Goa, 144 pteridophytes in Nilgiris 130 pteridophytes in Anamalays, 136 pteridophytes in Palnis and 176 pteridophtes in the Agasthiamalai. In the Western Ghats, the major types of forest are the scrub – jungle (upto 600 m) the dry – deciduous forest (upto 800 m), the moist–deciduous forest (1200 m), the wet evergreen forest (1800 m), the Shola forest above 2100 m the low – grassland and the high – altitude grassland (above 2000 m). The high altitude mountains such a Coorg, Nilgiris, Anamalays and Palni are tourist spots and heavily populated. The entire high plateaus of Nilgiris and Anamalays are cultivated with tea and hardly any forest is left infact. In the Nilgiris alone 20,000 ha of land is cultivated with tea. In Nilgiris and Palni, vast stretches of forest are destroyed and exotic species of Eucalyptus, Pinus and Acacia are extensively cultivated for commercial purposes. Since Nilgiris and Palnis are famous tourist spots, rapidly increasing human population and tourists have caused deforestations at large scale. National habits have become degraded for human settlement, agriculture and overgrazing. In the high altitude mountains like Palnis and Nilgiris there are various tribal communities who earn their livelihood by using non-wood forest products like medicinal plants, and wild fruits. In the Western Ghats of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka nearly 1,00,000 people live and bamboos and ratton. Anthropogenic pressure for agriculture habitation and trade have caused heavy destruction of natural ecosystems and extinction of species. The senior author has surveyed the entire Western Ghats of South India and has enumerated 44 rare and endangered species which were published in British Fern Gazzette in 1995. Cash crops like cadamum, rubber, banana, pepper and fruit trees have been cultivated by clearing natural forest segments. In all hill stations, the monsoonal rains have been gradually decreasing and as a result, scarcity of drinking water during the summer has become an acute problem, particularly in Kodaikanal and Ooty towns. Scientists have predicted that after 25 years the Ooty lake will disappear due to incoming rubbish. The Kodaikanal lake, originally 11 meter in depth, has now became only 8 m due to the rubbishes & thrown into the lake by people in nearly houses and hotels. The Kodaikanal Botanic Garden The garden comprising 100 acres is situated at 1500 m in a place celled Eetipallam 11 kms down the Kodaikanal town. About an areas of 20 acres was under cultivated several years ago and in this cultivated land there still scattered natural trees. The major part of the garden contains undisturbed subtropical forest with dense trees shrubs and ground flora. A survey of the species in the undisturbed forest has been made by the senior author and a list of about 200 species of trees, shrubs and herbs is prepared. The ministry of Environment and forest, Government of India financed to fence this area with a circumference of 11000 feet and also to set up a polyhouse and shade house for cultivated and conservation of about 200 pteriophytes, orchids and cacti. The pteridophytes being conserved in these house were collected by the senior author from the Western Ghats, especially Palnis, Nilgiris and Agasthiamalai. Besides the ministry of Environment and forest, financed also a project an the micropropagation and reintroduction of 12 endangered ferns of the Western Ghats. The ferns were micropropagated in the Centre for Biodiversity and Biotechnology, St. Xavier’s College, Palayamkottai and the in-vitro multiplied ferns are now being cultivated and conserved in the poly house and shade house. The micropropagated ferns were also distributed to Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute, Thiruvanthapuram, Gurukula Botanic Garden, Kerala and Calicut University Botanic Garden. The plants in the poly house and shade house are irrigated with bore–well water. College students, school children scientist, research scholars and tourists are delighted to see 175 ferns of the Western Ghats just in one locality in the garden. The garden is managed by the senior author who is also the director of Centre for Biodiversity and Biotechnology, St. Xavier’s College, Palayamkottai. The Darwin Project People and Plant: Training Darwin Mentors The main target group of the project is school children via their teachers. It is based on the surmise that children in the age groups of 5-12 are most receptive to newer ideas and easily motivated to develop concern for others and lead an environment friendly life in future. The primary and middle level teachers other wise equipped with training and newly gained knowledge in EE under the project will certainly influence children to adopt new life skills and awareness and this will no doubt have influence on their parents. As such, the project contributes to development of a younger generation which refrains from and exploitative made of life and looks upon the plants as precious resources of immense wealth which need to be preserved and judiciously and scientifically utilized for the very survival and prosperity of fellow countryman. Thus, the project will have a real and lasting impact on the capacity of India to meet its obligations under the previsions of the CBD. Objectives 1. To train teachers in environmental education and for than to use the Kodaikanal Botanic Garden (KBG) as a teaching resource. 2. To promote the KBG as a model for the development of community and school Botanic garden throughout Tamil Nadu 3. To develop an education and interpretation strategy for the KBG. 4. To highlight the value of native flora and habitats to support sustainable development for example, by drawing particular attention to plants valuable for fuel wood, medicine, timber, wild foods and fruits, fodder, tourism and other used and promoting models and practices for the wise and sustainable management of such plant species. 5. To organize a number of workshops and training courses. 6. To develop teachers kits and posters useful in environmental education and training. The primary level training for 180 school teachers from 50 unions in five districts (Tirunelveli, Madurai, Theni, Dindigul, Coimbatore) started in March 2002. The selection of a fairly large numbers of teachers from the Palni hills area in Theni and Dindigul Districts was facilitated by roping in such NGOs as Literates welfare society, Theni, Ideal Trust, Ganguvarpatti, Palni hills Conservation Council, Kodaikanal, Primary school teachers Society in Dindigul. The Sacred Heart College, Shenbaganur was also a well meaning and a host to the training courses. Since the training courses comprised visits to forest segments the officials of state Forest Departments had to be contacted for necessary permission and assistance from forest guards. The project officer played a catalytic role in establishing contacts and networking. Environmental Education and Training for Capacity Building: Altogether there were eight training courses, each offered to a batch of 20-30 teachers. The programme was tight schedule and consisted of presentations on global and regional environmental problems, EE definitions, areas and types of EE, the role of botanic gardens in furthering the cause of EE, the interactive discussions explorative and creative components, activities and games and self–evaluation of the conservation of rare plant species, promotion of community education and sustainable horticultural practices and development of plant based activities were practically new to the Indian school teachers. So also, the types of EE and creativity and social parameters for sustainable living (Education for sustainability), biodiversity conservation, management and sustainable utilization (Biodiversity education) nature and quality of men – induced development activities including the power centre and provision of skill and different thinking (Development Education) and inducing the student to explore alternative cause of their future (Future Education) were not known to the teachers at all. The teachers found the objectives of EE is generating awareness, knowledge, skill, attitude and participatory tendenary very instructive. At the end of the day, the participant teachers were obviously convinced of the need for renovating the present education process and basing on a broader understanding of the environmental problems today and socio – economics and developmental need and aspirations of present and future generations. Unlike the stereotypic me way flow of bookish information currently in practice, these activities and games by their very nature helped the teachers /children learn through participation and interactive discussions. While the games (Photosynthesis game, indicators of successful city, seed survival race, Island biodiversity game, food web and food chain) enabled the participants either to understand the natural sequence of event in a process or anthropogen – induced irreversable changes including extinction of species of sustainable living. The activities (Botanical Bazar, Global trampling, Compass Rose, Sambar making. How many plants have you used today) greatly helped them to understand the structure, function and value of biodiversity and make the creative while discussing them. The activities and games were an eye-opener to the teachers as the examples used were all local and few resources were needed to complete them so as to suit the school environment in developing countries like India. The teachers were, for example, astonished when they learnt that the ingredients used in the South Indian Sambar preparations were essentially of plant origin from different parts of the world. In yet another activity the teachers were given option to prepare layouts for herbal, ornamental and rock gardens and select the types of bed and plant species to suit them. The teachers were also taken to see the interior of a evergreen forest at 1200 m level and note the different kinds of stories in the forest, the various kinds of plants at different habitats. In this forest the dynamic functioning of ecosystem, the food chain, food web and the biogeochemical cycle going on the forest ecosystem were also explained to them similarly likewise they were also taken to see a Shola forest at 2200 m level and observe the different types of plants and their habitats. The differences between evergreen forest a low altitude and the Shola forest at the high altitude were also pointed out. Follow up of training in capacity building The secondary level training and associated activities, as our experience shows, have truly galvanized the support of the public for the EE related activities of the teachers and the school children in various unions of the districts. Since such localized efforts have attracted to attention of the prominent members of the local communities including municipal chairmen and president of the village panchayat, vaidyas, forest range officers, NGOs and Devaswom Board members and above all organized under the guidance of the respective AEEOs, In the district of Tirunelveli, Madurai, Dindigul and Coimbatore, 53 mentors have given secondary level training to 396 teachers. It should be noted that a single lady teacher from Vasudevanallur union in Tirunelveli District organized training for 16 other teachers and 6 teachers in Dindigul District offered training 150 teachers of the union. In order to encourage the school groups to establish herbal gardens, medicinal plants were freely distribute by the project staff during all the secondary level training programmes. Altogether, medicinal plants were supplied to 45 schools in the five districts. A good number of gardens are maintained by the teachers with great interest. Apart from the training, the mentors had also taken up several other related activities to spread the environmental message across the public further. Both the ICC Convent and St. Andrews School at Coimbatore and RC school at Tenkasi have now established school gardens with the help of school children. Overwhelmed with the excellent training he received in early March, Mr. Chellappa, a Headmaster and Manager of an Hindu Middle School at Thirukkurungudi in Tirunelveli district organised a visit of his school children to the KBG. The children replayed the environmental games in the lawns of the Sacred Heart College. He had also implemented a novel scheme of providing a plant to each house in his village and the plant is being watered and reared by a student from his school. This has motivated the public to raise greenery in the vacant places available in the village. Mrs. Sivakami of S.M.M. Middle School in Vasudevanalloor union had not only planted trees in the school yard but also organised school visits to the nearby Sivagiri forests. She had also organised an Environmental Campaign on World Environment Day on June 5 when the school children went on procession carrying placards and raising slogans through the streets of the village (Fig. 3). Yet another lady teacher Mrs. Santhakala, along with other mentors from Palni town had successfully influenced the AEEOs, Municipal authorities and Devaswom Board officials to organise meetings, debates and cultural events to impress upon them, the need for curbing use of plastics in this pilgrimage centre. Henceforth the plastics are banned in the town and the shop owners and hotelics now pack up the articles sold in used newspaper. In response to their repeated appeals, the municipal authorities have also arranged trucks to clean the rubbish collected in all the schools of the town every day. Mention should also be made of the excellent work done by Mr. Veerapathra Babu of Chanarpatti union and Mr. Dhanapal of Reddiar Chatram union both in Dindigul district. On 14th March, Mr. Babu organised an afforestation programme in association with Malappuram Cricket Club where the Panchayat President, Mrs. Dhanajayarani, school student and village communities participated and 225 tree saplings were planted in barren lands of Guziliamparai village with the help of the students (Fig.4). On this occasion the Panchayat President liberally donated Rs.1000 towards providing irrigation facility to the planted area. Regular maintenance is being looked after by his students. Mr. Babu is overflowing with infectious interest and confidence to pursue his pet afforestation activity in other parts of the union with the saplings provided free of cost by the State Forest Department and the Palni Hills Conservation Council. On the Independence Day (August 14) he organised another function in which 2 tree saplings were supplied for each school in the union. He was largely responsible for organising the secondary level training to 25 teachers in his union. Apart from developing a herbal garden in his school, he is currently preparing a book on EE with details of water harvesting, organic farming, ozone generation and environmental games for distribution to other schools. Mr. Dhanapal of the Panchayat Primary School at Gurusanapatti is a similar cup of tea who not only organised a school visit to the KBG but also imparted EE to his school children through cultural events including dance, songs and drama. In one such dance organised in presence of the BGCI's Education Officer, Ms. Lucy Sutherland his children worshipped a tree with devotional songs. In addition, with the help of his fellow teachers including the Headmaster, and the students, he has planted 30 saplings of goosberry, Pongamia and neem in the school yard for which a barbed wire fencing is provided with the assistance received from the local AEEOs and an youth club. Enthused with the support received from the Community, he is optimistic that within 2-3 years the entire will develop into a greenery and the school children and village folk alike will escape from scorching sun in the summer. To cap them all, the mentors from Tenkasi union organised a meeting on 15th August at Kattu Bava School, Tenkasi where a decision to register a Darwin Environmental Education Society was unanimously taken with the objectives of networking of school groups in all the five districts, organising model genetic gardens for medicinal plants for demonstration and training and promoting organic farming and greenhealth. The mentors from Palni, Natham, Udamalpet and Reddiar Chatram unions have already lent support to this idea, with the initial establishment of the societies in their own unions before on networking all the societies of the unions in different districts. The last of these training camps was organised at the Panchayat Middle School in the Pannaipatti village at the foothills of the Palnis by the mentors of Reddiar Chatram union in Dindigul district where partnership was displayed at its best. The mentors together with the school Headmaster and teachers had worked for at least 2 weeks to give a facelift to the school and prepare beds and planting materials to raise a small garden in the school premises before the one-day training for fellow teachers could be organised on 18th September. This camp was qualitatively different from others as the local village community leaders, Panchayat President, Chairman of a welfare group (Annai Trust), and the AEEOs not only contributed to organise the training but also participated in the brief inaugural function and a tree planting programme where the need for environmental preservation and sustainable uses of plant resources of the Palni hills were emphasized again and again. It was a grand event by any standard as 37 participant teachers including the mentors, community leaders, officials from the Education Department and about 300 school children took an oath that they will preserve forests and trees and never resort to injudicious exploitation of the Palni hill flora. A mark of respect for Mother Nature and a shining example of partnership indeed! And inspiring an younger generation to play responsible role to build a better tomorrow too. Besides, the grassroots support was readily available or asking! On this occasion the children themselves had prepared placards bearing messages on environmental preservation including importance of the ozone layer and top soil, tree planting, hygiene and sanitation in the villages and the need for using local medicinal plants for primary health care. An Headmaster from the nearby village read out the songs he had composed in appreciation of the diverse uses of easily available medicinal plants. The mentors had also organised a poster presentation with newspaper clippings on local environmental problems, eradication of illiteracy in the area; relationship between local people and plants and strengthening of local health traditions. There were also writings on the black board projecting the importance of Palni hills and local trees and herbs. Both the Project Coordinator and Project Officer participated in the tree planting event and distributed tree saplings and medicinal plants gifted by the State Forest Department to the villagers and school children. They also addressed the audience assembled in the school on global environmental problems as gainst the background of the just concluded Earth Summit at Johannesberg. Evaluation and Resource Workshops The success of the EE training in capacity building held in March was evaluated through a second series of workshops in late August. Altogether 99 teachers comprising 22 mentors and their trainees, with more women than men, participated in four workshops of two days each. The evaluation based on a questionnaire prepared for the occasion revealed that the impact of the EE training at school level as evident from such attributes as maintenance of cleanliness in the classrooms and school premises, planting activity within the school campus, transfer of newly acquired knowledge to the students, generation of new knowledge about local plant resources and exhibition of native plant species of medicinal and economic important was considerable. In certain cases it was a two way learning as teachers found new uses of local plants with the help of the children and their parents. However, by and large, the impact of the training at community level was only marginal considering a period of examinations, summer vacation and new school admissions that followed the training courses and relatively longer period needed for interaction with local communities. The teachers of these workshops evaluated the contents of a resource book on medicinal plants as well. Each batch of teachers was divided into 4-5 groups and each group evaluated certain activity of the draft resource book through interactive discussions. The objective was to improve the quality of the presentation of each activity by addition or deletion which was readily accomplished to make the book acceptable to primary / middle school level teaching. Since most of the teacher participants in the first series of evinced interest in medicinal plants, it was only natural that a resource book on medicinal plants containing lessons, activities and role plays was compiled in local language and evaluated keeping in mind the needs of the school children. Most of the teachers are now busy with the ensuing quarterly examinations and therefore additional evaluation workshops could not be organised in September. This book is expected to be published in its final form in January 2003. We have distribute two books and medicinal plants, one used during the evaluation workshop and another (150 pages) to be used by school teachers as a handbook. These two books deal with the kinds of medicinal plants, identifying medicinal plants, making dichotomous keys for identifying the species, different kinds of gardening methods, preparing the land far cultivation, common medicinal plants of South India, medicinal plants is daily use, rearing medicinal plants different conventional methods to propagate medicinal plants, preparing compost pit, establishing seed banks, medicinal plants, folklore, proverbs, stories, songs about medicinal plants. We have also prepared a poster with photograph of medicinal plants in daily use. For each picture, the parts used for medicine, method of preparations, how to use than etc are given. The poster gives a lot of data regarding how to use them. The books and posters were released during the closing ceremony held in St. Mary’s Hr. Sec. School. Conclusion: Sustainable utilization of bioresources is the key-concept in all forums related to environmental conservation. The Darwin project entitled People and Plants – Training Darwin Mentors in India, has concentrated on giving awareness, knowledge, skill attitude and participation in environmental education through various biodiversity related workshops, discussions group-sharing, and lectures on the role of botanic garden in education and conservation. School teachers and children had shown personal interest and involvement in the environment – related issues and activities. School children have also played a key-role in spreading environmental awareness to their parents, gained through the teachers who used various means of communication such as writing articles, poems, stories, drawings and playing skits. The medicinal plants distributed to nearly 45 schools has definitely given both the teachers and children the importance of using traditional medicines based on plants and has stimulated them to take active efforts towards conservation of not only medicinally useful plants but also all rare and endangered plant species. The environment-related games of different kinds and various other individual and group activities have enabled both the teachers and students to come closer to nature, appreciate and conserve them. The key-idea imparted to the target groups of the Darwin project namely taking urgent measures to reduce over-exploitation of bioresources has resulted in taking prompt steps towards conservation of biodiversity around them. The target groups have also imbibed the idea that continued survival of human race on the mother earth is department on how people today use the available boresources. The end – results of the project as mentioned in the foregoing pages clearly indicate that the project is a success and if it is extended to cover other districts in the State of Tamil Nadu, there will be an astounding result.
"Supporting and multiplying concern for sustainable Development "