Mangaluru, Sep 25, 2018: Prof K G Saxena, School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi delivering a key-note address at a national workshop on “Agro Biodiversity Conservation for Sustainable Socio-ecological Development” at Mangalore University on Sept 24, Monday.
China’s model of converting agricultural land into agro forest land is needed for the biodiversity in India, stressed the Prof
China opted for “grain for green” model to increase forest cover by converting agricultural land into agro forest land. This was achieved by promoting plantations on the land, which helped prevent soil erosion and alleviate poverty. In India, the conversion of farm land into forest land is not being promoted due to restrictions on felling of trees, he said.
"Environment and natural resources preservation are vital to conserve livelihoods and enhance economic growth. Impacts of micro level landscape change, global environmental change are posing serious challenges to ecosystem sustainability," he said.
The degraded land can be restored through expansion of forest land, and thereby conserving bio-diversity. The conversion of land for tea cultivation in North East and Western Ghats region has only benefited the large industries and not the farmers. The tea is looked upon as a commercial crop. Along with promoting commercial crops, there is a need to improve food security, increase income with equity, he said.
Recognising the close relationship between communities and natural resources, it is of utmost importance to promote conservation-friendly resource use and production practices. India has three Global Agricultural Heritage Systems Sites —Koraput in Odisha (best suited region for growing varieties of crops like paddy, millets, pulses, oilseeds, vegetables); Pampore region, also known as Saffron Heritage Site of Kashmir in India and Kuttanad (only place in India where rice is cultivated below sea level--Backwater paddy cultivation or Kayal cultivation). These unique system of agricultural techniques contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the country, he emphasised.
Dr Devendra Pandey, chairman of study steering committee meeting and discussion on interdisciplinary research on socio-ecological sustainability, lamented on the loss of many crop varieties under the pretext of increasing rice production.