Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Piece of Forest Within Me!

Every time I look at a tree, it teaches me to be patient. Every time I look at the grass it teaches me to dance on the tunes of wind...Carl Sagan.

Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, science popularizer, science communicator in astronomy & other natural sciences & what not! And his above quote reflects every scientists respect towards the nature. I am not any way near to his level while choosing words to describe nature but the feelings are always similar especially when I am in forests which are probably the best form of the nature. As it’s here when you look at anything around may it be a birds beauty or blueness of sky or a wild flower dancing on the tunes of air or a gazelle running across vast grass lands or may it be a tree standing like a silent observer of the entire surrounding; everything tells you something rather as Carl said, teaches you something about life! And this time when I reached at kadbanwadi grass land, then I realized that I have forgotten my 500mm lens, & was irritated with myself but then I asked myself, why I am going to kadbanwadi i.e. a small grassland forest near Pune; to click the snaps or to be in the nature? And as soon I was there in the grassland & gazelles, locally known as chinkaras, the irritation melted the way winter fog melts with the rise of sun!

This winter seems to strike green gold for me as immediately coming from my week long trip to tadoba & kanha, I could again get away & be in a forest which many of the Punekars even don’t know that it exists so near to them! In past few years wild life tourism has got tremendous popularity mainly within Metro cities crowd & it’s a matter of status now to have visited at least one national park amongst the higher classes of society from cities like Mumbai & Pune! It achieves two things , one is you feel like are a nature lover & doing something for nature & then you can proudly say that you have sighted a tiger in forest & speak with authority in the evening social parties about topic like  “Save Tiger”! Well, whatever the reason may be but this has made destinations like kanha, tadoba, ranthambore, pench, bandhavgad, kabini & many more as hot tourist places as Singapore & Dubai now is a fact. And it’s these tourists only whose spending does help the locals over these places is a good side of the tourism. So nothing to complaint about, but does being a nature lover means you have seen a tiger in the forest & just visited one of the above mentioned forests which are in elite club of wild life sanctuaries? For a city like Pune which is surrounded by western ghats & grass lands from all sides, a lot has at offer when it comes to wild life, provided we should understand what is a wild life in actual? For example as a resident of concrete jungle like Pune, ask yourself that in your city life how many times you have noticed chirping of the birds in your home or office? Rather how many birds or insects or animals you have seen other than domestic animals like cow & buffalo & birds like pigeon or crow? How many times you have seen clear blue sky & felt the fresh cool breeze with pure oxygen? How many times you have looked at sky & tried to count the stars shining brightly? How many times you have stopped to look at grass with waves forming by the blowing wind & a bright colored wild flower? When last you have tried to chase a butterfly or has seen you kids doing it? When did you remember last a walk on a dusty road with looking for foot prints of various animals & guessed who has walked on the road you have taken? I am sure in our daily life we have not only forgot to get asked these question but we have forgot importance of these small things; we have forgot what it is being with nature & that’s the greatest loss we can have. As life is not turnover on rupees or promotions or penthouse & cars & latest cell phone but life is in the things which comes free of cost & right around us. Agreed money & all other things it can buy are important but if in the process we are forgetting living then what’s use of it?

And here is where the small pieces of land like kadbanwadi can make the difference in our money oriented life. Not necessary we have to spend few days & lots of travel to be in forest to feel the answers of all above questions but all one can do is be a little curios & search a bit & forest in many forms is in our own neighborhood! Problem is these spots are not famous & neither any one is taking efforts for the same to do so. Why kanha & tadoba like forests are in lime light? One answer is they have tigers & unfortunately all the wild life tourism in our country revolves around the tiger. But it’s high time for all the NGO’s as well Govt machinery to make common man realize the importance of forests first. And when we say forest, it includes all such locations may it be kadbanwadi grass lands or bhimashankar ever green forest or bhigwan like water bodies or phansad type costal area forests & western ghats, so many of them around our Pune city! Similarly most of the districts of our State are fortunate to have many small forest lands which are natural habitats of many wild life species from reptiles to mammals to birds, the need is to identify all such spots & make it public. This will achieve two rather three purposes, first is all these places are like hidden natural treasures & all those who can’t afford to go to big parks can visit here & understand the forests better & second is the tourism will bring in the much needed money for the locals around these places which indirectly will help to conserve these places which or else are in grave danger of deforestization due to various reasons, mainly population rise & urbanization! And third is, best way of awareness towards the forests is by actually being in the forests & if more & more people will be in forests via locations like kadbanwadi, then that will be best way to make people aware about the necessity of such piece of lands around us & what millions of rupees of media campaign can’t achieve will be achieved in much cheaper & direct way for the forests!

But for this we need to have a proper infrastructure at every such spot. To start with how people will know that such piece of land exists in their neighborhood? For that forest dept & tourism dept needs to get in hand & prepare a list of such spots in the form of booklet along with snaps as well location maps & information about what to see here. This information can be made available on respective web sites as well updated periodically. There has to be proper signage as well way boards & hoardings on highways as well on internal roads which are a must, so the visitors can reach there properly. For e.g. there are hundreds of hoardings along the Solapur highway from Pune displaying townships which are concrete jungles we create but not a single hoarding, even not at the turn to kadbanwadi, displaying location of this original jungle! So how a common man will know that it exists so near to the main road? Then the basic infrastructure like some information center at the start of forest itself & things like restrooms or cafeterias which can be easily made as land is not a problem. We can also think of accommodation arrangements which will be a boon for professional wild lifers as they can then have exposure of forest at night as well early morning, which are best hours for sighting of animals! Here we need to learn from countries like USA where at the remotest tourist places these basic amenities are always available & in good form. Here we can take local peoples assistance & all these activities can be of used as their income. Youngsters from the locals can assist the tourists as guides & show them around the wild life & this is possible with some minimum training for which many NGO’s are available. We can display photographs of local flora & fauna by asking the visitors to their captures which most of them I am sure will do it happily. Things like cycle rides also can be thought of making cycles available at the information centers, which can give opportunity to the visitors to get nearer to the nature without disturbing the same. Also it will be another source of income. We can think of taking yearly competition of photography of such locations all around the State, making more & more people visit these places & that’s sure way to make it known to the masses.

We can tie up with schools in Pune & nearby towns & arrange visits of school children at such forests as well sign JV’s with the tour operators especially with organizations like Nature walk or Pugmarks, who are specialized in wild life tourism. This will help us to reach out to large spectrum of society. At the same time it’s very much important to protect these forests from surrounding urbanization & need to provide proper staff which will be enough to protect its boundaries & keep the encroachers away! What we should do is undertake forest like Kadbanwadi as pilot project & try to convert it in to the tourist friendly forest & then we can replicate the pattern for all other such locations. So many things can be done for kadbanwadis around us, all what one needs is some chosen one taking lead on this front & frankly its job of every individual who loves the forests, to become that chosen one instead waiting for someone to do get delivered from the skies for this role!

At the end of the day, in today’s life all what we need is our own piece of forest! And in a way we all have a piece of a forest within us, which most of us have locked & forgot the key to it. Its places like kadbanwadi which will open that lock for us, as just one visit here & it will make us realize that dancing grass, vistleting winds, blue sky & chirping birds, all these are very much essential for our survival! Rather it’s these things which make us living specie or else there won’t be any difference between the gadgets we use & our own self! 

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

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1 comment:

  1. hi...i am viraj from kadbanwadi thanks for your visit and publish my village great inf...


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