Biodiversity of Goa

(Organised Jointly By Peaceful Society, Econet-Pune , In Collaboration With Institute Of Safety, Occupation Health And Environment, Govt. Of Goa. Nov. 1, 1996. Isohe Complex Altinho, Panaji – Goa.)

Objectives Of The Workshop

The local organisers had aimed at exposing influential participants to several areas of biodiversity in local language and to focus priority areas of biodiversity conservation, protection and utilisation.

The workshop was held on November 1, 1996 from 9.30 a.m. to 6.15 p.m. at the ISOHE conference hall, Altinho, Panjim – Goa. It was inaugurated by the Chief Secretary of Govt. of Goa, Dr. G. C. Srivastava who also holds the environment secretary’s office. He had earlier served with ICR-New Delhi.

Dr. Srivastava acknowledged the threats to ecosystems in Goa and agreed with the need to conserve local biodiversity. He appealed the participants to offer ideas to the Govt. for undertaking suitable policy measures and schemes for conservation and protection of biodiversity against the pressures of development. Dr. Paranjape presented a set of Econet publications to him with a request to make liberal use of this documentation in discussing biodiversity issues at Govt. level.

Dr. Vijay Paranjape in his introductory remarks highlighted the awareness brought about by the Rio convention on biodiversity and attempts in India to motivate the people and the Govt. to take suitable initiatives for protection of the rich biodiversity. He expressed the need to work closely with the Govt. bodies by offering them ideas and through consistent advocacy.

Salient Aspects Of The Workshop

·        this was the first such workshop in history of Goa on biodiversity in the local official language-KONKANI

·        the workshop was organised in collaboration with ISOHE, a state govt. institution thus bringing together the NGOs, members of the public and the govt. agency.

·        the participants were selected on basis of their social / cultural track record, ability to transmit new ideas to grass roots level and influence the public opinion.

·        the resource persons included folklorists, scientists, ecologists providing ideal interdisciplinary input for meaningful discussion and interaction.

Workshop Organization And Co-Ordination:-

The groundwork for successful organization was done by Dr. Nandkumar Kamat, Niraj Naik, Bharati Bandodkar, Kumar Kalanand Mani of Peaceful Society and Kishor Dhume, Shri. C. V. Dhume, head of ISOHE and his staff gave full cooperation.

Participants Profile

Participants included Konkani writers, activists, science teachers, farmers, panchayat members, freedom fighters, headmasters, social workers and students of ecology and environment.

Workshop Topics

Dr. Nandkumar Kamat, scientist and ecologist from Goa University reviewed the status of Goa’s biodiversity with figures and facts. This session was presided over by Shri. Jagdish Wagh, Hon. Secretary of WWF Goa. Shri Pandurang Phaldessai of Kala Academy – Goa engaged in PhD. Work on history then presented a detailed paper on biodiversity of Goa as reflected in traditional folklore. Dr. Nandkumar Kamat chaired this session. Another folklore researcher from Goa Konkani Academy Miss Jayanti Naik spoke on Ecofeminism and biodiversity relationship as seen in Goa’s folklore. Sahitya Academy literary award winner in Konkani Shri. Dilip Borkar chaired this session. Dr. Bernadette Gomes, lecturer in sociology at Govt. college-Quepem spoke about her research work on Kunbi community of baradi Betul in South Goa. Dr. J. B. Sardesai, retd, chaired this session. UNESCO entomologist Dr. Vijaya Kerkar from Botany Dept. of Goa University then presented a scientific paper on Goa’s algae, seaweeds and ferns. Dr. Ajit Shirodkar, a progessive horticulturist and retd. Pharmaceutical executive chaired this session. Dr. Vijay Paranjape then offered his critical comments on all the papers and guided the participants.

Certificates:

Dr. Vijaya Paranjape of Econet, Pune, gave all the participants certificates of participation.

Summary of issues which emerged from the workshop:-

·        People are generally ignorant about the extent of biodiversity and its economic and ecological significance

·        Biodiversity knowledge, especially ecosystem, habitat, plant and animal biodiversity is well recorded in Goa’s traditional and non formal indigenous knowledge systems such as folklore

·        There is no inventory/checklist of Goa’s biodiversity. A statistical data sheet was produced by Dr. Kamat, which shows about 4500 species.

·        OBCs of Goa and women are important guardians of natural resources and biodiversity. Their role is not fully acknowledged at govt. or academic level.

·        Pressures of development, especially construction activity, mining, quarrying, tourism, urbanisation, industrialisation are eroding biodiversity

·        Coastal Goa is facing biodiversity erosion due to pollution in estuaries, damage to beach ecology and mangrove ecosystem and destruction of coconut groves and khazan (saline) paddy fields.

·        There is no emphasis on biodiversity in education.

·        Existing environmental acts are not enforced in Goa.

·        There is no literature on biodiversity in local languages.

·        There is marginal interaction between the NGOs and the Govt. and NGOs and the Village Panchayats for taking up biodiversity issues.

·        It is important to catalogue the wealth of medicinal plants of Goa and document their issues.

·        Wild germless needs to be conserved in local seed/gene banks.

Recommendations Of The Workshop:

·        Goa needs an all tax a biodiversity inventory.

·        Sacred groves of Goa need to be surveyed and conserved.

·        State Govt. should pass an appropriate law to protect indigenous knowledge systems and biodiversity.

·        Hot spots of biodiversity erosion within the state of Goa need to be identified for remedial action.

·        The coastal and Western Ghats areas are especially vulnerable to developmental pressures. Biodiversity-rich zones from these areas need to be protected.

·        Every village panchayat should be encouraged to prepare a local natural resource list and community biodiversity conservation scheme

·        Women and OBC’s form important components of biodiversity conservation movement. They should be consulted and involved at all stages of biodiversity conservation schemes.

·        Biodiversity education should form a major component of environmental education from school to university level.

·        Bio economic Assessment of biological wealth of Goa should be done through experts.

·        Bio diversity impact Assessment should be made compulsory for all developmental projects.

Proposed Follow Up Action:

·        preparation of approach paper on biodiversity conservation for the State Govt. to be included in the 9th five year plan proposals

·        Publication of workshop papers after revision and editing

·        Organisation of taluka level mini-workshops/meetings

·        Publication of a scientific checklist of all know local species

·        Setting up a central biodiversity documentation centre for west-coast / western ghats

Actions initiated by the state govt. after the workshop:

·        encouragement to biodiversity research projects, establishment of nurseries

·        passing of a legislation on control of non-biodegradable waste

·        Ordinance banning wetland filling and indiscriminate hill cutting to be promulgated

Response From Media:

The workshop was well received by the local media both vernacular and English. Two papers presented in the workshop were published in modified form in the 1996 DIVALI issue of KONKANI, the official literary magazine of KONKANI BHASHA MANDAL.

Conclusion: The workshop was widely appreciated for its theme and substance and succeeded in creating tremendous awareness among the opinion leaders about the threats to Goa’s biodiversity and the need to take timely action.