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Jharkhand’s Lady Tarzan motivates students on long-term sustainability practices

TERI and Tata Steel Foundation organise online session on ‘Forests, Biodiversity and Climate Change’ as part of the Green School Project

Jamshedpur, Sep 28: The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and Tata Steel Foundation organised an online session for students and teachers under the theme of ‘Forests, Biodiversity and Climate Change’ as part of the Green School Project’s Phase IV activities today. Students and teachers from various participatory schools of the Green School Project attended the expert session that aimed to generate awareness among stakeholders on the critical role of forests in climate action and the need for immediate biodiversity conservation.

The role of forests in carbon sequestration, regulating ecosystems, supporting livelihoods, and protecting biodiversity is insurmountable. Furthermore, their healthy presence plays a crucial role in climate stabilisation. However, shrinking forest cover due to deforestation, relentless and unregulated urbanisation amongst other human-induced stressors had tipped the ecosystem’s balance. With climate change impacts getting more pronounced every passing day, effects of such ecological imbalance can prove disastrous for both, the communities dependent on forests, and the immense biodiversity that finds its sustenance in forests.

More than 130 children from 34 schools from locations across West Bokaro, Jamadoba, Joda, Noamundi, Kalinganagar, Sukinda and Angul have joined. Also, 100 students joined from the Maski ki Pathshala centres run by the Tata Steel Foundation.

Padma Shri Jamuna Tudu, and Pankaj Satija, Chief Regulatory Affairs, Tata Steel served as the technical experts at the session which was moderated by Neha, Fellow, Environmental Education and Awareness Division, TERI.

Underscoring the importance of forests and biodiversity, Ms Tudu said, “I have faced numerous challenges in my efforts to conserve trees and plants, but none of those deterred me from my goal. If you have made up your mind and are passionate about something, keep moving towards it, that’s how you accomplish your goals.” With her feisty attitude, Tudu is colloquially referred as Lady Tarzan of Jharkhand for her fight against the timber mafia. She spearheads around 300 groups of 25-30 people who patrol the forests and raise alarms if there are incidents of illegal chopping of trees in the forests of Jharkhand. The groups plant new saplings and encourage villagers (esp. women) to join their campaign to revive and sustain the forests and biodiversity of the region. 

Speaking on the occasion, Satija said, “Anthropogenic activities directed towards inefficient energy use, unbridled resource consumption and adverse land use are fuelling biodiversity loss and climate change. Shifting of climatic envelope is leaving little space for certain species to migrate, thus impacting livelihood in many cases. Unfortunately, the most impacted ones are those who are vulnerable and perhaps contributed least in aggravating the situation. Every positive step will help in mitigating the biodiversity loss, reducing the global warming and preventing the impending worsening inequality.”

The session saw experts deliberate on issues of key importance including subjects of climate change impacts, adopting best practices and what can an individual do to work towards conserving forests and biodiversity while furthering climate action. The session aimed to inspire the students to take actions that are guided by the principles of sustainability and environmental consciousness.

“The Phase IV of the Green School Project focuses on restoration of ecosystems by imbibing these qualities in them and become changemakers of tomorrow. The project aims to build the capacities of students to innovate and develop participatory tools to protect and restore the planet for a sustainable future.” highlighted Ms Neha at the session.

The Green School Project was formally launched in April 2017 to help students across Tata Steel’s operational areas in Jharkhand and Odisha improve their critical, inter-disciplinary, and holistic thinking. The focus of the project is to create awareness and enable the student and teacher fraternity to better understand their relationship with nature and make concerted efforts to conserve it through resource management initiatives at local levels.

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