Workshop on documentation of People’s Biodiversity Registers for District Nodal Officers at Chennai

13 Nov, 2018

The documentation of People’s Biodiversity Registers (PBRs) is one of the main functions of Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs), as established under the Biological Diversity Act, 2002. The Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Board (TNBB), along with the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) Department, facilitated the constitution of BMCs, one of the three-tiered institutions established under the Act. There are 385 block-level BMCs in Tamil Nadu, and the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Partnership Project has undertaken various capacity-building measures to strengthen these local level institutions.

A workshop was conducted on 13 November 2018 at Chennai, to discuss the processes involved in documenting PBRs with District Nodal Officers from all districts of Tamil Nadu. Senior officials from the Tamil Nadu Forest Department, Dr. H. Malleshappa IFS, PCCF (HOD), and Mr. T. P. Raghunath IFS, PCCF and Chief Wildlife Warden, initiated the workshop. They urged the District Nodal Officers, who are also the District Forest Officers, to take proactive measures in strengthening BMCs to carry out activities as mandated under the Biological Diversity Act, 2002. They also lauded the efforts of the ABS Partnership Project in this regard. Dr. Oommen V. Oommen, former Chairperson, Kerala Biodiversity Board, and Dr. Kunal Satyarthi, Member Secretary, Himachal Pradesh Biodiversity Board, were the resource speakers for the workshop.

Senior officials at the workshop

District Nodal Officers participating in the workshop

Dr. Oommen provided an overview of the process of PBR documentation as followed by the Kerala Biodiversity Board. The Board involved retired professors from biology backgrounds and forest officials to undertake field survey and data collection for PBRs. Several capacity-building and sensitisation programmes were undertaken along with training the BMC members on their responsibilities and on notification of Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS). Financial assistance for PBR documentation was obtained through the panchayat, municipality or corporation funds. He also highlighted the importance of documenting coastal biodiversity and stated that Kerala is now in the process of documenting marine biodiversity up to 13km into the sea, with the help of fishermen. He revealed that BMC members also keep track of the loss of biodiversity and update their PBRs every few years. He also recommended that PBRs be documented in the vernacular language.

Dr. Kunal Satyarthi shared his experience of working in Himachal Pradesh. Due to the unique geography of the state, the Board established BMCs at appropriate levels of administration, based on their topography. For example, middle Himalayan districts have BMCs at the village panchayat level, whereas the districts on the plains have BMCs at the district level. PBR documentation is undertaken by various universities in the state and this information is digitised. Currently they are in the process of documenting all the sacred groves in the state, the best of which will be notified as BHS.

Mr. A. Udhayan, Secretary, TNBB, along with the resource speakers, then addressed queries on the confidentiality of PBRs, technical support from NGOs and other institutions, and financial resources available for documentation. PBR formats prescribed by the National Biodiversity Authority were also presented to the nodal officers.

As the next step, the ABS Partnership Project will be conducting capacity needs assessment workshops in three locations – Madurai, Namakkal and Tuticorin in November 2018 and training for secretaries and workshops for NGOs in December 2018.