Conservation Wildlands Trust was founded in 2012 as a philanthropic initiative to promote community-based wildlife conservation. It aims to bring economic opportunities to the community by changing its relationship with the forest, from that of competitor to custodian.
Conservation Wildlands Trust is a registered non-profit organization, which seeks to marry an ecocentric and anthropocentric approach, aiming to enhance the lives of communities as well as conserve forests.
Pench Tiger Reserve is home to a diversity of wildlife and the Pench river, which feeds the reservoirs of many major cities in central India. Being one of the large areas of green cover in our country, it is imperative to our economic, water and food security that we preserve it.
Named after the river that meanders through it, Pench Tiger Reserve straddles the boundary of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. It is 1499 sq km of land with a buffer zone of 830 sq km.
In order to address the issue of depletion of forests and degradation of forest corridors, we work in villages, which border the Pench Tiger Reserve and its forest corridors. These communities are mainly made of people who belong to the Gond tribe.
CWT aims to help them sustain their way of life while also preserving the forests, helping them move from competitor to custodian of the forest. Thanks to support from the Pench Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra Forest Departments, CWT first started working with this population in 2013.
Slowly over the years we have become a part of these communities, helping to bring them new opportunities for livelihood which are complementary to the forest, educating them on the need for forest protection, and bringing healthcare and other services to their homes and schools.
If local communities are to take care of the forests and wildlife they live with, they need to develop a sense of responsibility as their custodians. This is possible if they feel empowered in the first place. For the same, we established three interventions mentioned below:
CWT in collaboration with the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department set up an E-Base in the interpretation centre near the Turia gate at Pench, MP in November 2011. It is a space that serves as a classroom and training area. It runs on purely renewable energy supplied by solar panels showcasing alternative energy as a substitute to fossil fuels, which contributes to climate change.
So far, over 800 children in villages around the reserve have attended the programs where the curriculum is divided into subjects like biodiversity, energy, water and climate change.
Education Partners – Reniscience Education & Vidnyanvahini.
CWT conducted a study to understand the needs of the locals & methods to generate income that are sustainable were identified and economic models of self-help groups have been created.
Skills are being imparted and ways to link them to the market continue to be established. Currently there is a stitching school where women tailor clothes, handmade paper production to create innovative products, and village-based tours that are curated. All of these are marketed under the CWT brand Tiger Tribes.
Livelihood Partners – Grassroutes Journeys, Usha, Green Souls, The Permaculture Way, Industhan, HAPACOOP & PashooPakshee.
Most of the village communities that CWT works with have limited access to medical aid to address common diseases. To service a dire lack of facilities, a Mobile Health Van was initiated in January 2015. The health van attends to the needs of 32 villages on a bimonthly basis.
An awareness-building component is built in as part of the health intervention on a monthly basis. Health workers educate village residents on proper hygiene, sanitation, nutrition and the prevention of common health issues. They empower the community with knowledge to reduce and mitigate the occurrence of preventable health diseases.
So far, 18061 individuals have benefited from this initiative.
Health Partners – UAPF, Cipla Foundation & DMIMS.
For more information, log on to www.conservationwildlands.org/