Surveying bird diversity and developing community conservation measures with schoolchildren in Jejuri, rural India.
Vishwa Nirmala Vidya Mandir Jejuri
Bird diversity is high in rural areas, especially town borders where there is human activity. In places like these outright conservation measures used in reserves cannot be implemented and there is a lot of private, commercial land. Communities have to recognize diversity as a resource and make efforts to conserve. We are tackling on maximizing the conservation potential of residential areas, public areas and farmland by enlightening and educating communities.
We assess the bird diversity with schoolchildren by line transects of multiple areas around town. This creates a database and makes the community aware of the diversity. Then children come up with conservation projects. For example- one student is undertaking a project asking farmers not to cut branches that have Coppersmith barbets (Megalaima haemacephala) nesting in them preventing habitat loss due to excessive tree felling
We have recorded forty eight bird species from transect data over a period of six months, more will be uncovered as more students cover more areas. Working with a group of fifteen children, we have come up with half a dozen conservation projects, some involving barbets and skylarks while conducting awareness programs in various schools and groups
Our work is relevant to finding a way to sustain biodiversity within communities. It is cheap, people centered. Many mini conservation projects like these will have collective impact. They bend public opinion towards large scale conservation measures and create good ecologists and activists. A large enough program becomes self sustaining once the benefits to the community are realized to the community themselves.