Business Wire India
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) supported one and a half-day workshop on "Challenges for Biodiversity Conservation and Human-Wildlife Conflicts – Identifying the problems and possible solutions” held in Sikkim. The states with JICA-supported forestry projects, MoEFCC officials, NGOs and research institutes based in Sikkim were invited to the workshop.
The objective of the workshop was to learn ways of conserving biodiversity, including wildlife which is essential for India because biodiversity loss, results in the imbalance of ecosystem with far-reaching impact on livelihoods. The workshop aimed to solve the conflict that occurs between people and wildlife when animals leave protected areas and raid crops, causing problems with local communities.
Mr. L.B. Das, Honourable Speaker, Sikkim Legislative Assembly delivered the inaugural address as the Chief Guest. Mr. Karma Loday Bhutia, Honourable Minister for Forest and Mr. S.C. Gupta, Chief Secretary of Government of Sikkim attended the workshop. Mr. Gupta addressed the delegates. In addition to the officials of the Sikkim government as the host of workshop, representatives of JICA-supported forestry projects which have a component of Biodiversity Conservation and/or human-wildlife conflict like Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Nagaland and Meghalaya made presentations on their experiences on the issue.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Katsuo Matsumoto, Chief Representative, JICA India mentioned about JICA’s cooperation to the North East States to promote sustainable development of the region and highlighted that “Conservation of biodiversity is crucial for India because the consequences of biodiversity loss will impact negatively livelihoods, health, food security and overall well-being of human society.
JICA has been working to tackle the issue through forestry and biodiversity related projects with state forest departments since 1991. Sikkim biodiversity conservation and forest management project is one of the examples and the very first biodiversity conservation centric project supported by JICA. JICA aims to work with a dual conservation strategy which includes conserving protected areas by collaborating with local communities to reduce their impacts on the protected area. Our solutions include improving livelihood base through alternative income generating activities by SHGs and promoting alternative cropping & land-use through appropriate incentive program. This kind of workshop helps all stakeholders present to share and in cross-learn about the challenges, solutions, innovations and opportunities in biodiversity conservation and ways and means to enhance the resilience of local communities with adaptive measures in forest fringe villages.”
The increase in human population and subsequent demand for natural resources is leading to degradation and fragmentation of natural habitats thus, creating a situation where humans and wildlife are competing for the same resources. This shift from ‘coexistence’ to ‘conflict’ has the potential to undermine the existing and future conservation efforts and also hinder achievement of both Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Biodiversity Targets. Mitigation of human-wildlife conflict is thus emerging as one of the key issues of concern. It is crucial to address this issue holistically and to co-create mitigation solutions by engaging all relevant stakeholders. Such initiatives will also contribute particularly to the Sustainable Development Goals 1 (Poverty Reduction) and 15 (Life on Land- protection of land ecosystems, sustainable resource management, biodiversity). Dr. Hasegawa, JICA senior advisor on Biodiversity and Ecosystems presented the identified challenges and possible solutions for human-wildlife conflict, sharing the experiences of human-bear conflict in Hokkaido in Japan, human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka, amongst other issues. He underlined the importance of quality Environmental Impact Assessment at the time of project formulation, and most importantly, development of long-term policies/strategies that ensure the conservation of protected zones. They should be community-based, and involve multiple stakeholders, government agencies to make collective decisions on the use of natural resources.