Holistic Habitat Healing
Environmental Empathy and Eco-Civilization
Ecosystem Restoration through Familial Forestry
What is Familial Forestry
In the north-western region of Rajasthan, where Familial Forestry has been implemented for over one and half decade, hundreds of thousands of students and villagers have acquired skills in proper plantation and post-plantation care. This initiative not only enhances climate awareness but also addresses issues of hunger and malnutrition by promoting the plantation of fruit plants at home. Family trees serve as nesting places for birds and insects, contributing to increased biodiversity.
Familial Forestry complements social forestry schemes by focusing on regaining ecological functioning and improving human welfare across deforested or degraded forest landscapes. Emphasising the importance of diverse native tree species, it contributes to forest landscape restoration, involving communities in mutually beneficial interventions for landscape improvement. The long-term perspective of Familial Forestry, grounded in a strong attachment to trees and the environment across generations, accelerates the accumulation of forest-related knowledge, ensuring well-being and sustainability for local communities through sustainable forest management.
Acknowledging the pressing issue of increased CO2 levels in the Earth’s atmosphere, Familial Forestry serves as a bottom-up approach to climate action. Directly involving communities, especially the younger generation, it has been successfully replicated in 1.6 million families across more than 18,000 villages in the arid region of western Rajasthan over the last two decades. This effort has led to the development of 200 Institutional Forests and the planting of over 4 million saplings in various forms making Familial Forestry synonymous with environmental activism in the area.
To enhance the holistic habitat healing methodology, Familial Forestry actively incorporates rituals and festivals with trees, fostering a cultural connection to nature and promoting sustainable living practices. This approach contributes to the overall well-being of ecosystems, communities, and the environment.
Familial Forestry, as a holistic environmental initiative, significantly contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Specifically, Familial Forestry aligns with several SDGs, including:
- SDG 4 – Quality Education: Through frequent visits to villages and active engagement with students, Familial Forestry imparts valuable knowledge and skills related to environmental conservation and sustainable practices. It contributes to environmental education, aligning with SDG 4.
- SDG 5 – Gender Equality: Familial Forestry actively engages women as key stakeholders and champions, promoting gender equality (SDG 5). By involving women in forestry activities and decision-making processes, the initiative empowers them economically and socially, contributing to a more gender-inclusive approach to environmental conservation.
- SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production: Familial Forestry supports SDG 12 by encouraging responsible consumption through the sustainable use of natural resources. The initiative promotes the consumption of fruits produced through local, environmentally friendly practices, aligning with the goals of responsible production and consumption.
- SDG 13 – Climate Action: Familial Forestry directly addresses climate change by involving communities, especially the youth, in climate action. The initiative focuses on reducing carbon emissions through tree planting, fostering climate resilience, and promoting sustainable practices.
- SDG 15 – Life on Land: The core of Familial Forestry lies in the restoration of degraded land and the promotion of sustainable land use practices. By actively engaging in afforestation and regenerating natural habitats, Familial Forestry contributes significantly to SDG 15, ensuring the conservation of terrestrial ecosystems.
- SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals: Familial Forestry fosters community participation, creating partnerships between local communities, educational institutions, and environmental organizations. This aligns with SDG 17, emphasizing the importance of collaboration for the achievement of sustainable development.
By addressing these SDGs, Familial Forestry emerges as a comprehensive approach that not only contributes to environmental conservation but also integrates social, economic, and educational dimensions for sustainable development.
The institutional forest concept extends Familial Forestry from individual households to the community level, establishing small and medium-sized forests in educational institutions and on abandoned or degraded public land. This initiative focuses on restoring abandoned and degraded areas by planting and supporting native species, promoting a Holistic Habitat Healing approach through Institutional Forestation. These forests aim to reinstate the natural balance of the area, engaging students and the local community in sustainable forest management practices, thus acting as catalysts for societal engagement in environmental conservation.
Our inaugural institutional forest, the ‘Gandhi Institutional Forest,’ planted in 2013 on our college campus in Bikaner, spans 6 hectares and hosts 3000 trees of 100 different varieties, along with various desert grasses and other unique flora and fauna of the Thar desert.
The largest among our institutional forests is the ‘Dev Jasnath Institutional Forest’ in Dabla Talab, Loonkaransar, Bikaner district, covering 84 hectares. Once a degraded area due to illegal strip mining, this expansive forest has been restored through community participation, thriving as a diverse native flora forest and providing a natural habitat for endangered species like Spiny-tailed lizards, Monitor lizards, Gazelle, Desert foxes, Jackal, rabbits, and various avian fauna.
Successfully replicated in 200 rural schools and on public lands, the institutional forest model encourages community-based forestry practices, addressing sustainable land use, biodiversity conservation, climate change, and poverty reduction.
The institutional forest model involves establishing community-managed forests and empowering local communities to actively manage and conserve forests. This model promotes sustainable land use practices, including agroforestry, reforestation, and soil conservation, enhancing ecological, social, and economic benefits for local communities.
Implemented in the desert region of Rajasthan, the institutional forest model has proven successful in promoting sustainable land
use practices, conserving biodiversity, and improving the livelihoods of local communities, leading to the development of climate change
Key Benefits of Institutional Forests:
1- Sustainable Land Use Practices: Promoting practices like agroforestry, reforestation, and soil conservation to conserve and
enhance the health and productivity of forests and land ecosystems.
2- Biodiversity Conservation: Contributing to biodiversity conservation by integrating native trees, herbs and shrubs into land uses.
3- Improved Livelihoods: Enhancing the livelihoods of local communities through access to forest products and services, including firewood, non-timber forest products, and ecotourism opportunities.
4- Community Participation and Empowerment: Fostering community participation and empowerment by involving local communities in forest management and conservation, instilling a sense of ownership and responsibility for the environment.
5- Climate Change Resilience: Increasing resilience to climate change impacts by promoting the conservation and restoration of forests and natural areas, regulating local climates, and improving soil and water quality.
6-Improved Governance: Enhancing governance by involving local communities in decision-making processes related to forestry and land use practices, ensuring sustainable practices align with local needs and priorities.
In conclusion, institutional forests offer a range of key benefits related to sustainable land use, biodiversity conservation, improved livelihoods, community participation and empowerment, climate change resilience, and improved governance, following a Holistic Habitat Healing approach.
Public nurseries are the indispensable part of Familial Forestry concept, that are meant for providing quality saplings free of cost to anyone. Familial Forestry activities develop small, medium and large size public nurseries as per the availability of resources and scope for the plantation. Nurseries are developed seasonally and permanently. Our permanent nurseries provide saplings through out the year. Our largest public nursery has capacity of 75,000 saplings at a time.
Agroforestry is a sustainable resource to obtain fodder, timber, and fruits. Such contribution of agroforestry strengthens sustainable agriculture thus increases income and improves rural living in many aspects. Our public nurseries provide soil booster native species like Prosopis cineraria free of cost to farmers. Our KHET-KHET KHEJARI ( Prosopis cineraria to every Agri farm) drive has developed an understanding about the importance of native species in agroforestry practices.
Holistic Habitat Healing
Ecosystem Health: “Habitat Healing” goes beyond the idea of restoration; it implies nurturing the overall health and functionality of an ecosystem. It recognizes that the components of an ecosystem are interconnected, and their well-being is interdependent. Therefore, the goal is not only to restore a specific area but to improve the overall health of the ecosystem, taking into account all niches, including aspects like soil quality, water availability, the well-being of both flora and fauna, and community connections.
Incorporating Tradition and #FamilialForestry: Holistic Habitat Healing often integrates traditional practices and knowledge into the restoration process. Indigenous communities, for example, have long-held wisdom about how to interact harmoniously with their natural surroundings. By incorporating these traditions, habitat restoration can become culturally sensitive and sustainable. Additionally, Familial Forestry, a concept that involves individuals and families actively participating in tree planting and forest management, plays a pivotal role in the holistic approach. It ensures that communities are directly engaged in nurturing their environment, fostering a deeper connection between people and nature.
Minimal Human Intervention: While not explicitly stated, the term implies minimal human intervention. “Healing” suggests a process that allows natural systems to recover and regenerate with minimal disruption. Instead of imposing our will on the environment, we become facilitators of nature’s ability to heal itself.
Protection and Preservation: Finally, “Holistic Habitat Healing” underscores the importance of protection and preservation. It’s not just about fixing what’s broken; it’s about ensuring that the habitat remains healthy and resilient. It’s about safeguarding the natural world for future generations.
Conclusion: “Holistic Habitat Healing” (HHH) is more than just a catchy phrase; it represents a shift in our thinking about habitat restoration. It encourages us to view ecosystems as interconnected wholes, to engage with local communities, and to incorporate traditional wisdom and Familial Forestry practices. Ultimately, it offers a promising path toward a future where our natural world thrives, and we coexist harmoniously with the environment. The attached photos of our restoration efforts on an 84 -hectare degraded and abandoned public land reflect the effectiveness of HHH.
UN’s Land For Life award to Familial Forestry
An eight-member international jury declared Familial Forestry from Rajasthan, India, winner of this year’s Land for Life Award because of its innovative land restoration and conservation method that promotes the well-being of communities and improves their relationship with nature. The jury was impressed by Familial Forestry’s achievements and how it relates a tree to the family, treating it as a green member of the family.
About UNCCDThe UNCCD is one of the three Rio Conventions—along with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
The negotiation of the UNCCD was called for in Agenda 21, the program of action adopted at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, or Earth Summit).
The UNCCD was adopted in Paris, France on 17 June 1994, entered into force on 26 December 1996. It is the only internationally legally binding framework set up to address the problem of desertification. It has 197 parties, making it near-universal in reach.
What UNCCD wrote about Familial ForestryThis year’s Land for Life Award goes to Familial Forestry of Rajasthan, India, a unique concept of Shyam Sunder Jyani, Associate Professor for Sociology at in Rajasthan that relates a tree with a family, making it a green “family member.”
Placing a family at the cornerstone of society, concept ensures the success of any social campaign.
Familial Forestry means transferring the care of the tree and environment in the family so that a tree becomes a part of the family’s consciousness. More than a million families from more than 15,000 villages of desert-prone northwest Rajasthan in over 2.5 million saplings have been planted in the past 15 years, with the active participation of students and desert dwellers.
About the AwardLaunched at the UNCCD COP (Conference of Parties) 10 in 2011, the “Land for Life Award” is considered as the world’s highest reward regarding land conservation and restoration.
This year’s (2021) theme for the award was “Healthy Land, Healthy Lives”.
To demonstrate that LDN is necessary and achievable, the Land for Life Programme engages in awareness raising and knowledge support. Every two years, the programme presents the Land for Life Award which aims to provide global recognition to individuals and organizations whose work and initiatives have made a significant contribution to sustainable development through sustainable land management (SLM).
हरित प्रणाम (Green Greetings)
The sole objective of my life is to dedicate myself to fostering environmental empathy and contributing to eco-civilization. The concept of Familial Forestry was conceived and developed with this overarching goal in mind. Since 2003, I have been passionately advocating for a deeper connection with nature, aiming to inspire millions to consider trees as integral members of their families.
The proliferation of green members within families, the establishment of numerous Institutional forests, and the initiation of people’s nurseries are all driving forces behind this green initiative, propelling us toward widespread green socialisation and the realisation of an Eco-Civilisation. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all those green-minded individuals who have contributed with their heads, hands, and hearts to this endeavour.
UN's Land For Life Award laureate,
Associate Professor of Sociology
Govt. Dungar Collage, Bikaner, Rajasthan
वन संरक्षण के क्षेत्र में उनका शोध वनीकरण के साथ-साथ क्रियात्मक पर्यावरणीय शिक्षा एवं जलवायु सशक्तिकरण की एक प्रक्रिया है। जो पारिवारिक वानिकी के जरिए व्यक्ति को हैड, हैंड व हार्ट तीनों ही तरह से पेड़ व पर्यावरण से जोड़कर प्रकृति की महानता का दर्शन कराती है।
Such an innovative concept for land conservation and restoration is most praiseworthy. It has led to plantation of saplings in the desert areas of Rajasthan & in environment conservation.
Afforestation, which can help prevent ongoing desertification, is a challenge in western #Rajasthan, in the Thar desert. Professor ShyamSunder Jyani is leading efforts for ecosystem restoration using indigenous species. Mongabay India An environmental science and conservation news service.