Traditional Knowledge in the context of climate change





Traditional knowledge, often referred to as indigenous knowledge, is a unique way through which the community in a given culture and location develops strategies that enable them to survive in their natural and social environment. Especially, the poor and marginal communities are largely dependent on natural resource base for their livelihood and get affected most severely due to the negative impact of climate change. Indian Institute of Bio-Social Research and Development (IBRAD) has been assigned by GIZ to systematically document the traditional knowledge of the people of West Bengal in respect to adaptation and mitigation of climate change vulnerability.

Objective of the study was to assess the relevance and potential of traditional knowledge in the state of West Bengal with respect to climate change adaptation in the current scenario of climate variability, changing market conditions, demographic conditions and policy aspects. And also to draw conclusions on the innovation/intervention required on the traditional knowledge and practices in order to keep up with the changing conditions.

Key findings on Traditional knowledge
 Use of local varieties of paddy like Nunchi, Mugaisal, Jata, Kabiraj sal, Poya in West Medinipur, found in Bishnupur, Nayagram, Totopara and Gosaba in Sundarban
 Application of plant parts for pest control: Practices are found whereby people apply Neem, Sirhi and parasi for managing pests in their agriculture field. This practice found in Bishnupur, Bankura district and Nayagram, West Medinipur district, and also Sundarban,
 Use of dried cow dung mixed with hen/pig excreta as manure, found in Bishnupur, Bankura district Totopara, Jalpaiguri, Nayagram, Sundarban
 Zero tillage practices: Farmers used to cultivate paddy through broad casting method without tiling the land. This practice found in Bishnupur, Bankura district.
 Mulching: Farmers used to cover the land with grass and other residues that helps in adding manure to the soil, retain soil moisture and maintain the micro climate, practiced in Bishnupur, Bankura district
 Storage of seed/seed bank: Farmers used to store the seeds of paddy with certain specified methods for raising crops in subsequent years, practiced in Bishnupur Nayagram, and Sundarban
 Cultivation of Dhaincha (Sesbania aculeta)have been found in Gosaba, Sundarbans

 Maintenance of Sacred groove: Sacred groves are the religious practice of conserving biodiversity with strong beliefs, customs and taboos and are treasure house of rare and endemic species. Everything within these groves is under the protection of the reigning deity of the grove and the removal of any material, even dead wood or twig is a taboo (Gadgil & Vartak, 1976). Local name of this practice is known as Debsthan, Jahirthan, Garam Than. This practice is found in Totopara in Jalpaiguri, Bishnupur in Bankura, Nayagram in West Medinipur
 Ethno medicinal practices : Traditional Knowledge to use natural plant parts for curing ailments as well as preventive purposes for both human and animals. Some of the examples of these medicinal plants are

Medicinal Plants & use in Sundarban
 Green Chiku is an effective medicine for loose motion of domestic animal.
 ‘Sheel Akanda’ is effective for dental pain.
 Stalks juice of jaggary palm if applied on cows head reduces cough & cold.
 Salt with musterd oil & kitchen dust (‘Jhul’) is given to toungue of cows to reduce throat infection.
 Sugar with lime applied on wound.

Medicinal plant used for treatment in Totopara:
 Khere: Leaf oil is taken internally to cure biliousness by Toto. The medicine men advises not to take pork and country liquor during uses of this drug.
 Duba: Fresh plants are crushed; the juice is applied on the fresh cut to check bleeding by Toto.
 Marua: The grains and rhizomatous parts are used as the raw materials for the preparation of country liquor by Toto.

Water Conservation:
 Rainwater storage in ponds with high embankments: the tool is used to this practice was known as DINGI, and this practice were done in Nayagram, West Medinipur and Gosaba, Sundarban
 Rain water storage in ponds and taking to the agriculture field with channels practiced in Bishnupur, Bankura

Some of the Case Studies:
 Use of Neem for Pest Control in Bishnupur. Some of the village in the Bishnupur practiced have shared that earlier they used to insert branches of Neem (Azadirachta indica) tree in the agriculture field and also used to apply Sirhi leaves in the agriculture field. They had a belief that the bitterness of the plants protects other plants from pests. These methods were used to control pests like Soshok, Majra etc. beside the Neem tree the Lodha community in Nayagram village used to apply Parasi (Clistanthus collinus) and Asar (Asclepias arenaria) leaves in their agriculture fields to protect their plants from pest attack. Apart from these use of different plant parts for biological control of pests in Kharagpur and Jhargram, They also boil the parasi fruit and spray in the agriculture field for pest control. Dhutura, tobacco leaf and Neem cakes are also used for pest control. Neem cakes act both as pesticide and manure.

 Cultivation of Dhainche for nitrogen fixation and reduce soil salinity at Sundarban: The people of Sundarban is facing a constant challenge of increased soil salinity due to intrusion of high tide waves in their agriculture fields. The problem was far more aggravated in the recent past during post Aila, a super cyclone that hit sundarbans on 24th May 2009. . Earlier farmers used to cultivate Dhaincha (Sesbania aculeata) to reduce salinity from soil and also for nitrogen fixation that was abondoned. But they have restored the practice for last three – four years. They cultivate Dhaincha for about five times a year. The plant is harvested before flowering starts and is mixed in the soil. Like other legumes it helps in nitrogen fixation.

 Traditional Practices of Rice and fish farming: Farmers of Bishnupur, Nayagram and Gosaba block in Sundarban have shared that earlier they used to have fishes like Singi, Koi, Magur, Puti etc in their rice field. Such fishes used to contribute to their staple diet.

 Rainwater harvesting in ponds and in low lying areas beside paddy field
Farmers of Sundarbans as well as Bishnupur have shared that they store water in the ponds. They also use the rainwater stored in the low lying areas besides the paddy field for irrigation purposes through field channels. Farmers in Bishnupur used to have a handmade implement, DONGA (a boat shaped wooden plank fixed with the support of bamboo), makeshift temporary arrangement for lifting water from the channels manually and discharge the water on the field.
 Some of the Bio Indicators have been shared by the villagers are mentioned bellow:
 Ants with eggs in their mouth means probability of rain.
 The whistle of ‘Chatak’ birds indicates probability of rain.
 The whistle of ‘Koda’ birds indicates probability of rain.
 Ring near the moon indicates drought while distant ring means rain.
 Cloud in the North-East corner indicates cyclone.
 Concentration of stars in the horizon indicates probability of heavy rain.
 ‘Kodale-Kurule’ clouds indicate heavy rain.
 Smoke from oven if spreads horizontally instead of going upwards indicates probability of heavy rain.

Forest Ecosystem Learning Action Group (FLAG)





With the growing worldwide concern for climate change and environmental plunder followed by rapid growth in economic activities in world around pushes earth’s carrying capacity at stake… consequences are that rapid deforestation, land sliding, drought, untimely unnecessary heavy rain in hilly regions have already been perceived as the adverse effect of worldwide climate change. Recent environmental calamities in Gaharwal Himalayan region of Uttaranchal has reminded of aforesaid incidents and raised eyebrows of many — political leaders, scientists, academicians, stake holders and general public at large. It is needless to say the consequences of global warming and climate change are due to unrestricted economic activity and short term profit seeking.
It is well known that, one of the most responsible causes of these environmental plunders is deforestation and forest degradation through economic activities and managing forest in unsustainable way.
In this light Indian Institute of Bio Social Research and Development (IBRAD) took initiative for natural resource management, especially forest conservation through bilateral matching institution involving community people and government line department.
The main objective is in institution building following seven steps of institution building, namely, i) clarity of the objective, ii) Cohesiveness and collaborative learning, iii) designing roles and responsibilities with regulatory mechanism, iv) communication and continuous capacity building in accordance with natural resource management, v) Sustainable livelihood plan, vi) convergence and vii) social ritual and process.
Therefore to develop community leaders to create a world of sustainable development and plan of sustainable livelihood through conservation of forest Sustainable Action and Network through Community Leaders Program (SANCALP) was conceptualized and designed by IBRAD.
Each state forest departments of Govt. of India have selected a nodal officer for state level coordination of the program and identification of the potential community leaders from different parts of the state. SANCALP provided a unique opportunity to the community leaders of different parts of the country to share their experiences, especially on how they have faced the challenges and overcame the hurdles to achieve the goal of natural resource conservation and have brought positive changes in the field.
Through SANCALP, IBRAD has longitudinal research sites on forest management, sustainable agriculture and horticulture, water management, sustainable harvesting of non timer forest products, participatory vegetation monitoring, climate change adaptation mechanism etc.
Thus in this process of institution building and convergence mechanism some SICO (Self Initiated Community Organisers) were identified from different states and there was a need to train them under proper light with motivation to the cause of natural resource management.
It is in this light Forest Ecosystem Learning Action Group (FLAG) emerged on 15th August 2012 just after national flag hoisting at 9 divisions in seven states of India. It is there the idea of Intregated Learning Centre (ILC) was conceived.
It is an instructional delivery system that connects the forest frontline staffs and the community leaders with natural resource management skill. It is a combination of i) Interaction, ii) classroom orientation, iii) practical field work, and iv) sharing the experience in the form of case study.
ILC of FLAG is a parallel system of education which aims to empower individuals through appropriate gainful skill development, professional goal of forest front line staff, JFMC members, voluntary students and the community.
This year ILC will be inaugurated on 2nd August at IBRAD campus, Prafullakana, Kolkata, INDIA. It will be held for two days, 2nd and 3rd August, 2013. Participants will come from different parts of India.

Livelihood enhancement from the preparation of threads from cocoon- A case study from Coochbehar.

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Ujjal SGSY self help group (SHG) started on 8th January, 2001 in Dinhata district of Coochbehar with 11 members. Different line departments of Govt Of India helped them to initiate theor endevour. Sericulture department of Coochbehar gave a subsidy of Rs- 40,000 when they formed their SHG. It is a perfect example of using all the five capitals of livelihood: Social, human, physical, natural and financial capital. Social capital

Machine used for thread preparation

Machine used for thread preparation

Types of cocoon

Types of cocoon

like forming group and working as an unit for a common goal and objectives to improve the quality of life, human capital like using skills and innovative ideas in business process, physical capital like infrastructure, use of machine etc, natural capital like use of cocoon and finally financial capital to start with, i.e money – all are evident in this particular group from Coochbehar. It was started under the scheme Swarnajayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojna. It is a group of 11 women who took part in group activity related to thread preparation from cocoon.  The adopted their idea from sericulture and applied it in their livelihood. Demand for silk sari is always high in India and abroad. The saris are made of threads obtained from cocoon through sericulture. It is a well known practice in different places of west Bengal and in other states of india. Generally a type of saris is made purely by silk threads and also silk threads are used in making design on cotton saris.  Both type of sris are popular in Indian subcontinent and in abroad as not only a part of traditional and cultural habit of clothing but also a piece of artwork.

Ujjal SGSY SHG produces cocoon on their own and they divide them accoriding to their sizes. Generally three types of cocoons are found as quality mark A (best), B (better) and C (good). Cocoon with quality mark A costs approximately Rs 10,000/- Kg, where type B costs Rs 4,500/- and type C around Rs- 3,000/- per kg. Generally it takes 4,500 type A cocoons to produce one kg silk, where type B and type C cocoons are required to produce one kg silk is 5,500 and 4,900 respectively.

It was found that five sari can be produced from one kg silk thread of each type. Each day they can produce approximately 400-500 grams of thread. Their average income per month is around Rs- 10,000- 15,000 based on the seasonality of demand and supply based on the life cycle of cocoons.

Different line departments including Department of Sericulture of Coochbehar and NGOs helped them form their SHG and keeping on their activities to improve their livelihood option and get an access to a decent standard of living.

Forest Ecosystem Based Livelihood “A Case Study from Bihar”

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Women Self Help Group making 'sal leaf' plate

Women Self Help Group making ‘sal leaf’ plate


"Herbal Gulal" preparation from Palash Flower

“Herbal Gulal” preparation from Palash Flower

Gram Ban Prabandhan Ebang Samrakhan Samiti of village Pirotha, district Banka of Bihar under the leadership of Sri UpendraYadav started Majia Swayam Swyahata Samuaha in the year 2012 with 40 women of the village Pirotha who were already members of Gram Ban Prabandhan Ebang SamrakhanSamiti.

The village Pirotha exists in the north west of Banka, about 20 km away from Banka bus stand. The area contains mixed vegetation pattern with lands for cultivation. The landscape is semi plateau, a combination of plain cultivation land with some discrete solid rocks spread across about two and half kilometres at a stretch. The area is filled with many trees like date, palm, mangoes, Sal, bushes some tropical trees and a rich source of famous Palash flower. The main cultivation of the area is paddy, maize, mustard, wheat etc. depending upon the variation in rainfall. Cultivation of paddy generally takes six months at that region so people of that place resort to cultivate other crops wich take much less tome to grow to be marketed. A river, called Bilashi flows nearby Pirotha, which is the main source of water in that region. Apart from that few man made water bodies were found which dried quiet enough and found insufficient for cultivation. A water fall near Manasha temple situated on a rock near the village is also source of water there.

The road service is not quite good, although under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana few good roads were made up to village Bhalua. Two primary schools and a secondary school were found on the way. Local children go to school with great enthusiasm and pomp but higher education is completely restricted to that place. No electricity and power supply have reached till date. Use of diesel pump and generators are common among them.

Average people are local villagers; of them some are aboriginals, tribal and \Dalits. They possess mud hut, roof made of straws. Few possess livestock like cow, goat, buffalo and pigs. Literacy rate is almost close to zero and other basic amenities of life are also restricted. No local market was found nearby. They also work under 100 day work scheme of G.O.I and as labourer elsewhere. Nearest market was found at least 20 km away from the village. Average income is still around 1000-1500.

Amidst all these adversities holds a beacon of light Gram Ban Prabandhan Ebang Samrakhan Samiti under the leadership of Sri UpendraYadav, a young enthusiast of the village who have been working with the village people with a zeal to emanate from his birth place to the road to success by organising local women folk who were underprivileged birth after birth. They recently formed a SHG, named Majia Swayam Swyahata Samuaha for about a year after working 10 years together for forest conservation which saw the light of success.

In 2011 a group of professors from Jadavpur University, Kolkata visited Pirotha with aim to help local people to stand on their own by using natural capital that they live with as the area is far from modernity and facilities. The group of 40 women were formed in 2012 after their visit to Pirotha.

The visitors from Jadavpur University found the area is a rich source of Palash flower and a rare species called by locals Sindur tree as the seeds of the tree can be used to produce Sindur.

India is a country of festival and colourful powders (AGulal) are famous for the merrymaking of all sorts of festivals celebrated in India. With the growing concern for health the demand for herbal Colour powder (Gulal) is at stake. The spring is the season for Palash flower. Palash grows at a large number between January and April. After a considerable research work they found that these Palsh can be used as raw material input for the production of herbal Gulal at almost no input cost beside other livelihood option like collecting Sal leaves, cultivation etc. The local women folk were trained how to prepare herbal Gulal.

The preparation of herbal Gulal requires 1 kg dried Palash  flower, 3 liters of water, net, a 4 litres cylinder, an oven, arrowroot and talcum power in 1:3 ratio and finally lots of cooperation and help of the members of the group.

To produce 1kg Gulal, 3 litres of plain water is boiled lightly and then 1kg dried Palash flower is added into it. Normally it takes 2-3 days to dry the flowers under normal weather condition. First the flowers are separated from the pollen as it was found during research that the flowers with pollen add a blackish shed. Then the mixture is being filtered through a net to separate the extracts of the flowers from its straws. 250 grams of arrowroots with 750 grams of talcum powder is then added to the natural extract of the flowers. It was found exactly the ratio of the powder in 1:3 produces 1 kg Gulal. Then the wet mixture is laid to dry up on a flat mat under the sun. It has to be produced within a day. It was said in a day they can produce up to 10 kg. The colour of Gulal is made from Palash is yellowish red.

Similar approach is applied to produce green Gulal from Seem leaves as a substitute of a prescribed leaf which is not available in great quantity to supply for a growing market. The result was quite satisfactory with Seem leaves.

They are also experimenting with herbal Sindur production on their own from seeds of Sindur tree called by local people but is much costlier than Gulal production as the raw materials are scarce.

Aromatic herbal Gulal is also produced by adding cents made of Chameli flowers. To prepare aromatic Gulal 10 drops of cent is mixed with 1 kg Gulal.

The cost of provision of Gulal and Sindur is only for talcum powder, arrowroot powder, Chameli cents and a gas cylinder of 4 litres.  A 4 litres gas cylinder can produce more than 100 kg. A 4 litre gas cylinder costs about Rs- 150/-. One kg arrowroot costs Rs – 50/- and oe kg talcum powder costs RS- 16-22/-. A 100 grams bottle of Chameli cent costs Rs-100/-.

Altogether to produce 1 kg Gulal  estimated expenditure is (excluding labour cost) Rs- 100-110/- approximately. And it is sold in marked at minimum Rs- 300 – 350/- per kg. The

profitability is almost 200% or more!

Last year it was produced experimentally and samples were sent to administrators including Hon. Chief Minister of Bihar and Hon. President of India. It was highly appreciated and this year they are producing it for market sell. They are also experimenting with herbal Sindur. The process is underway. the entire process from flower collection to packeting is done by  MajiaSwayamSwyahataSamuaha.

Market for hear Gulal is growing across India. Present market demand comes from Deoghar, Patna, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Hayedrabad and sometimes from Kolkata. But insufficient structural facilities and limited man power restricts them to reap the benefit of market force. Before the project was started they have been working at different fields as Majoors, playing the role of house wives and working as guards under Ban SamrakshanSamiti, but now they are doing something on their own in an organised way without any outside help which gives them a sense of dignity in society among men and empowerment following a different livelihood option

Eco-restoration in Donimalai of Karnataka with special reference to coir matting

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Eco-restoration with coir matting in Donimalai

Eco-restoration with coir matting in Donimalai

The slope is covered with coir mat

The slope is covered with coir mat

Mineral extraction is necessary for our industrial and economic development, maintenance of ecosystem is important for the sustenance of human life on the earth. It is therefore quite pertinent in the present scenario that mining and ecosystem stability should go hand in hand.

Mining is one time operations, the impacts of which are mostly reversible, for example the land disturbed by mining activity can be improved for a better productive land use by adopting scientific and the site specific state of the art land reclamation and rehabilitation plans. India’s land area is about 2 – 3 % of the global land area, and it supports more than 16 % of the global population. This important statistics reveals that the per capita land holding stands at 0.32 hectares, which calls for due attention to rehabilitation/ reclamation/ restoration of land after mining in order to utilize the land for useful purpose.

Karnataka forms an important part of the mineral-rich Archaean Indian Shield. The state is richly endowed with a wide variety of minerals and ornamental rocks along with ores of valuable metals like iron, manganese, gold, copper and chromium. There is a good sprinkling of minerals of industrial use such as asbestos, bauxite, corundum, dolomite, limestone, lime, fire clay, kaolin, magnesite, ochre, pyrite, quartz, soapstone and mineral sand.

The prosperity and well being of Karnataka depends to a large extent on how its natural resources are utilized in an environmentally safe and sustainable manner. The State of Environment Report & Action Plan -2003 published by Government of Karnataka has identified a number of environmental problems in and around Sandur and Bellary region. The region has been identified as one of the major environmental hotspots of the state due to problems arising out of mining. The movement of vehicles carrying iron ore is contributing to very high Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) in the region apart from damaging the roads. The soil erosion due to mining is a serious problem causing land degradation. Availability of water is a serious problem in Bellary district as the area falls under semi-arid to arid zone. The rainfall

is scanty, the droughts are frequent and the over exploitation of groundwater as resulted in the depletion of ground water table in the region.

Bellary is located at 15°09′N 76°56′E / 15.15°N 76.93°E, a district of Karnataka. / 15.15; 76.93 It has an average elevation of 495 meters (1459 ft). The city stands in the midst of a wide, level plain of black cotton soil. Bellary has a semi arid climate. As the city lies in the rain shadow region of the Western Ghats, it receives little rain from the southwest monsoon. Temperatures remain high throughout the year, but the months from March to June are especially hot, with temperatures frequently reaching 45 °C (110 °F). The months from November to February are relatively mild, with average temperatures of around 22 °C (71 °F). The city receives about 24 inches (610 mm) of rain every year, mainly in the months from August to October. Granite rocks and hills form a prominent feature of Bellary, and so granite quarrying is big business. The city is spread mainly around two huge rocky granite hills, the Ballari Gudda and the Kumbara Gudda (Gudda means hill in Kannada). These two hills are dominant features of the city and visible from every part of the city. It is also a historic place with its archeological interests. The minerals are being exploited on a large scale since 1907.

The entire region is hilly with varying elevation from 700 to 1100 m. Topographically the area is having rugged terrain covered with scanty vegetation. The total area of Bellary district is 8419 sq km of which 16.28% is forest. The study area involving 3 taluks is approximately 3700 sq km with an area of 960 sq km as mineral deposits. The iron and manganese ores are confined to 8 mountain ranges, namely, Copper Mountain (Vibhuthigudda), Donimalai, Ettinahatti, Kumaraswamy, Thimmappanagudi, Ramandurg (Ramgad), North Eastern Block (NEB) and Devagiri ranges.

Sandur basin is rich in iron ore followed by manganese ore. It is also known as Sandur Schist Belt, which falls in Bellary-Sandur-Hospet sectors. Sandur Schist Belt is one of the 5 Schist belts of Dharwar type formation. The Dharwar type Schist belt marks the transition from Archaean to Proterozoic era belonging to the age group of 2900-2600 million years. In Sandur Schist Belt the iron and manganese deposits are concentrated along the hilltop and ridges ranging between 600-1100m in altitude.

To mitigate this problem bio engineering is adapted in that region. Bioengineering solutions can be adopted in many soil stabilization and erosion control situations, from streambank and lakeshore protection to upland gully restoration and slope stabilization.

Advantages of bioengineering solutions are:

1) Low cost and lower long-term maintenance cost than traditional methods;

2) Low maintenance of live plants after they are established;

3) Environmental benefits of wildlife habitat, water quality improvement and aesthetics;

4) Improved strength over time as root systems develop and increase structural stability; and

5) Compatibility with environmentally sensitive sites or sites with limited access.

Keeping these advantages in mind coir matting is adopted as a problem solving method for soil eradication prevention (land sliding) and re-vegetation. Coir fascines are wattles made from the fibrous outer husk of coconuts. Coir is denser than water so it won’t float and is very slow to decay. Coir fascines are a readily available manufactured product and are popular for stream bank and wetland restoration where a natural look is desired. Coir fascines are placed with their tops at the water surface. Live plants can be placed into coir fascines to create a natural look. In Donimalai same technique is used but for mining site restoration.

The overburden is dumped in the site from crest to bottom of the plateau caused land sliding and natural vegetation (forest) destruction. There fore the process of coir matting is adopted. Coir mats are spreaded over the plateau in the mining side filled with soil and soil binding grass Agave. The entire region is watered artificially and through natural rainfall. It was observed that the problem of land sliding has been removed and re vegetation also taken place in that region.