Environmental Conference Day Three: Monday 5th October, 2009
Sanjeep Pradhan, from World Wildlife Fund India, gave a lively presentation on forestry conservation.
He began by explaining the importance of forests and plants and the critical role they play in supporting not just human life but a vast biodiversity and controlling levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen. However, forests were under threat and already rising temperatures globally showed the devastating effect of this.
Rising temperatures meant glaciers – an important source of drinking water -were melting and disappearing, whereas on the plains there were floods. Weather systems had become unpredictable, so whereas some places suffered from hurricanes, others had drought, which led to famine.
The responsibilty to protect the environment lay with everyone; be pro-active:
- plant trees
- use renewable energy such as bio gas
- encourage apiculture (bees)
- start vermi-composting (using worms)
- reduce, re-use and recycle
Sanjeep then discussed the factors which were necessary for successful regeneration of forest and tree plantation:
- site selection
- choice of appropriate indigenous species
- indigenous species should be given priority
- consider the purpose the trees will be used for
- discuss the planting in the community, especially with the women
- clearing and preparing the land
- how to plant
- caring for seedlings
Creating Natural Beauty – the experience of Phulahari Monastery
Khenpo Choekyi Gyaltsen described activities at Phulahari Monastery in Nepal.
The monastery was built in an area of millet and corn fields. In 1993 they set up a project to landscape the area around the temple, and began planting in 1994. The inspiration for the work came from and continues to come from the spiritual masters of the Kagyu lineage. The original aim was to beautify the temple surroundings but, as the monks learned more about environmental issues, the aim became one of environmental protection.
Their knowledge of gardening was gleaned from experience as they worked. Many of the first plants were too fragile or were eaten, so they set up a nursery to nurture young plants and saplings, and through experience they discovered which plants would grow and which wouldn’t, how to protect and care for them, and how to achieve a balance, for example, between those with summer foliage and evergreens.
Initially, it took about fourteen years to establish the gardens, but the monastery has continued to plant, replant and maintain them.
Restoring Spring Water Sources
A local ecologist, Arvind Sharma, from the Himalayan Nature Society, gave a presentation.
He pointed out that until a problem arose, people never gave a thought about where the water came from. The HNS was working to restore natural spring sources in the Dharamsala area, with financial support from the British High Commission, so that villagers were no longer dependent on the infrequent municipal water supply. It ensured that the area around the water supply was cleaned up and checked water purity.
Water Conservation in Action- Rumtek Monastery
Lama Gyaltsen Sonam gave a presentation of how they restored the water source of Rumtek Monastery and implemented the 108 guidelines to protect the environment with local school childrens.
Field Trip to Dolma Ling Nunnery
The final event of the day was also the most surprising because it encapsulated so many of the environmentally sound practices that the delegates had been hearing about.
There were bins for collecting paper and cardboard for recycling. Manure from the nunnery herd was left to decompose and then used as fertiliser on the gardens and fields. Vegetable waste was collected and composted. The nunnery took water from a local river, collected it in a pond, and then filtered it to provide drinking water so they had an independent water supply.
Hot water in the kitchen was provided by solar power
There was a new bathhouse, where the water was heated by solar panels built into the roof, and the wastewater from the bathhouse was filtered and then used to water the gardens.
There was also a small paper recycling workshop where old newspapers and other old paper were reduced to pulp and turned into paper once more, This paper was then turned into greetings cards which could be sold to generate income.