The Himalayan mountain ranges visible from the private reserve. Photo courtesy Jabarkhet Nature Reserve


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The evolving story of India’s forests


Involvement of local community 

Worah explained that their idea was to involve the local community because they knew without them the reserve can never become successful. Over the past few years, she has got women and youth from the village next to the reserve and from other nearby villages to engage with activities in the reserve.

“We have involved the locals in every aspect from daily work to overall management. We have trained local youth over the years and one of them has become one of the top birders of the region and also guides the visitors. Our day-long programmes involve hiking to nearby villages where the tourists experience local foods and culture. This ensures that everyone earns a livelihood and they protect the reserve,” Worah explained.

One such youth, who has been working at the JNR, is 26-year-old Virender Singh Panwar, who has been working at the place since 2015.

Virender Singh Panwar, a member of the local community, has been working at the reserve since 2015. Photo from Virender Singh Panwar.
Virender Singh Panwar, a member of the local community, has been working at the reserve since 2015. Photo courtesy Virender Singh Panwar.

“I had just completed my schooling and had visited Dehradun when I discovered that I can’t live a city life. I had read a lot about pollution in cities like Delhi. But more than any other factor, I love nature and wildlife and thus wanted to do something related to that. I met Sejal who encouraged me to take up this work. It has been a fabulous experience so far. My idea is that children should be taught about environment conservation when they are young because they are going to run the country tomorrow. If they know properly how important the protection of the environment is then we need not worry. Idea is to tell people that protection of the environment doesn’t mean anti-development,” Panwar told Mongabay-India.

Over the years, Panwar has done several birding courses and even got an award. “The adults who visit are fascinated by the whole experiment while children feel inspired. I just want to do that,” said Panwar, who has already inspired several youngsters from his local village to follow his path.

“For me, it is a labour of love and is in memory of my father. I feel my dad is watching me from somewhere and he is really happy,” said Jain.

A trail in the Jabarkhet Nature Reserve with rhododendron flowers on the forest floor. Photo from Jabarkhet Nature Reserve.
A trail in the Jabarkhet Nature Reserve with rhododendron flowers on the forest floor. Photo courtesy Jabarkhet Nature Reserve.

 

Banner image: A red muntjac at a water hole in Jabarkhet Nature Reserve. Photo courtesy Jabarkhet Nature Reserve.

Article published by mayank
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