With industrialisation, urbanisation and intensive mining activities progressing at a rapid pace, Orissa is developing at a fast rate and growing richer, but at the expense of irreparable damage to the environment. Ecological problems like pollution, loss of biodiversity, and a natural resources crunch have assumed critical proportions, especially in those parts of the state where developmental projects are progressing rampantly. During the past few centuries, biodiversity has come under tremendous pressure not only due to a shifting of the development paradigm, but also due to control over resources changing from local to global. The longstanding ban on NFTP collection from Protected Areas (Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks) has brought the juncture of the current conservation paradigms and local livelihoods into sharp focus. Communities are either being evicted from Protected Areas or face the threat of losing their livelihoods in favor of conservation of biodiversity and wildlife. The restrictive policy puts a bar on people’s customary and basic rights, thereby seriously affecting the local livelihood.
Conservation of the rich biodiversity resources of the state that contributes to enhancement of ecological value and quality of life for the people who draw their sustenance needs from it, thereby contributing to the process of sustainable development.
The Biodiversity Conservation & Livelihood team has taken up some major interventions in identifying the biodiversity hotspots of the state, addressing livelihood issues, and exploring the scope of involving local communities in the management of Protected Areas. We are striving to bring about a balance in conservation and livelihood goals in both policy and practice, with a growing conviction that such a balance is possible to a large extent. This belief emanates from our continuous involvement with communities living in such ecologically sensitive areas.