BENGALURU: A group of Bengalureans are out on a mission to restore the Kaveri catchment area in Kodagu to protect its biodiversity.Sheshadri, a conservationist and member of the Bengaluru-based group Forest First Samithi (FFS), believes that the word ‘conservation’ would not have existed in the English dictionary if people knew how to stay connected with nature. “It is because of our apathy that we have reached this pathetic state, where we fight with each other for even water,” he says.
Sheshadri along with IT professionals Meera Rajesh, Uma, Anil Panolil Chirikandoth and Dhandapany, formed this group in 2008 and they began their conservation work in Wayanad. They started working in Kodagu six months ago. The team works in association with Kodagu Model Forest Trust with an aim to conserve over 100 indigenous tree species of Western Ghats such as Saraca asoca, Mammea suriga, Garcinia talbotii, Dysoxylum malabaricum and Bridelia retusa. The team does rain water management to ensure maximum percolation to improve the ground water levels.
They encourage community participation as well. About eight people are working on this project. They are paid `8,000 per month from the funds that the team receives through online crowdfunding and friends. “A few IT professionals also contribute `5,000 from their monthly salary towards this cause,” he says.
Meera adds, “During the British Raj, the forest conservators were actually exploiting our forests for commercial benefits. We aim to make a headway in real time conservation of forest and ecology. It’s only then that our generation and posterity shall stand to gain and prosper.” The team is picking up some degraded patches of land across Kodagu with an attempt to protect them from cattle grazing and wild fires. Sheshadri says, “We clear dry grass and convert them to manure, hence, preventing wildfires from spreading.”
Funding is a major challenge for the project. The team is raising `7.30 lakh for this work through crowdfunding. If you wish to contribute for the cause, visit www.bitgiving.com. For further details about the team, log on to www.ffs.org.