In February, Dr. Mukkatira (Taumey) Mahendrappa, a former stakeholder in the Fundy Model Forest and employee for Natural Resources Canada, received an Award of Merit from the Canadian Forest Service for his work in establishing the Kodagu Model Forest in India.
For 10 years, Dr. Mahendrappa was a member of the soils and water conservation sub- committee in the Fundy Model Forest. Aware of the benefits of the approach for sustainable management of forests, he felt compelled to give something back to the Indian community where he grew up. In 2000, Dr. Mahendrappa began writing letters to citizens and officials in Kodagu about the value of the Model Forest program. Four years of effort paid off when Kodagu Model Forest joined the IMFN in 2005.
“During 2001 and 2003, 101 elephants were slaughtered for their ivory and that made me mad. And I wanted to do something about it,” said Dr. Mahendrappa. “Now that Kodagu Model Forest has been accepted as a partner in IMFN there is more awareness of what is happening to the flora and fauna in Kodagu. I am certain that the situation in Kodagu’s forests will improve.”
Within the Western Ghats region, Kodagu is a rich district in terms of forest cover and biodiversity. With a significant portion of forest land under protected status, Kodagu is intended to be a model for conservation, protection and sustainable forest management. But it has not always been that way. Increased immigration led to deforestation and loss of wildlife. Various activities of Model Forest aim to protect the environment while maintaining the socio-economic and cultural equilibrium of the region. In addition, Model Forest partners hope that the results of their programs can be applied to other areas of the Western Ghats, as well as at national levels.
The Kodagu initiative has successfully transferred Canadian Model Forest knowledge and technology to the people of India, and has promoted collaboration and partnership at the international level. “It is a win-win situation,” said Dr. Mahendrappa.