Jahnavi G Pai

Global Environments Summer Academy 2014 participant

About

Region of Specialisations India

Biography

With a deep fascination for nature since childhood, I pursued my passion by studying Masters in Ecology followed by a Post Graduate Diploma in Environmental Law. My work experience has been varied – from studying Giant Squirrels in the rainforests to participating in socio-economic surveys of forest-dependent communities in and around protected areas in the grasslands of Bihar and mountains of Uttarakhand. I worked for six years at a research institution, where I co-authored and coordinated the production of a bilingual nature guide. With an interest in applying science in policy-making, I worked on identifying policies that India needs to adopt to mitigate an impending pollinator-decline, which, if unaddressed, will severely affect food security.

India is a land of myriad cultures where people’s relationship with nature is just as diverse and vibrant. Conservation of biodiversity cannot be achieved by delinking people, their rich traditional knowledge and sustainable lifestyles that have nurtured and protected the biodiversity they are dependent on. I believe that these stakes and relationships need to be recognised, appreciated and even inculcated into mainstream cultures by anyone interested in biodiversity conservation including policy-makers, environmentalists, economists, and academicians. With my training and experience, I intend to work towards bridging the gap between grassroots environmentalism and academic research.

With this in mind, I am currently studying the state-owned grazing pastures in the Deccan plains of India known as Amruthmahal Kaval. These Kavals not only support local livelihoods but are also repositories of biodiversity due to their traditional regulatory mechanisms. However, much like grazing lands elsewhere in the country, they are fast disappearing due to threats from short-sighted policies, encroachment and afforestation, among others.

I also work on environmental issues in my city, Bangalore. Here, I initiated an exercise of mapping avenue trees by citizens in a residential locality, led a signature campaign of academicians condemning the misguided tree felling by the local governing body, and am part of a group of concerned citizens called ‘We Care for Malleswaram’ which is actively involved in sensitising the neighbourhood on waste segregation, recycling, composting and urban terrace gardening.

My aim is to partner with local communities in restoring their faith and dignity as conservation stewards by reviving the rich ecological knowledge they possess.

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