Arunachal villagers to share knowledge at bio meet

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By ROOPAK GOSWAMI
  • Published 3.10.12
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Guwahati, Oct. 2: Thirty families of Salari village in Arunachal Pradesh’s West Kameng district have developed bio-cultural community protocols for medicinal plants, setting terms and conditions for access to their knowledge and resources to outsiders.

The state will unveil the bio-cultural protocols for the first time at a side event of the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 11) on October 18 at Hyderabad.

A bio-cultural protocol is developed after a community undertakes a consultative process to outline their core cultural and spiritual values and customary laws relating to their traditional knowledge and resources, based on which they provide clear terms and conditions regulating access to their knowledge and resources.

The protocol, in the form of an agreement, provides information to outsiders wishing to access its traditional knowledge on medicinal plants and how to obtain the necessary consent to use its knowledge and resources. It ensures that the community receives a fair and equitable share of the benefits arising from the utilisation of its plant resources and traditional knowledge according to mutually agreed terms.

The Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) meet — one of the largest bio-diversity meets in the world – will be held from October 8-19 in Hyderabad.

One of the largest international conferences to be held in India, COP 11 will bring together more than 15,000 people from more than 193 countries to co-ordinate international efforts to achieve the objectives of the convention. The CBD is an international treaty for the conservation of bio-diversity, the sustainable use of the components of bio-diversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources.

“The bio-cultural protocols are ready to be released at the CBD meet,” B.S. Sajwan, principal chief conservator of forests, Arunachal Pradesh, told The Telegraph.

The villagers belong to the Sartang community and are followers of Mahayana Buddhism. A 25 to 30-member delegation comprising village elders, traditional healers and officials from the state will attend the meet.

The Centre for Cultural Research and Documentation, Naharlagun, in collaboration with the state forest department, state medicinal plant board and experts from United Nations Development Programme had facilitated the preparation of the protocols.

“It is the result of an intensive consultation with the local community members, the traditional healers and other stakeholders in the area on the traditional practices with regard to the natural resources, and national and international laws which are in place to ensure protection of such traditional practices for management of natural resources and the associated traditional knowledge. This, being the first document of its kind in Arunachal Pradesh, will help the communities take informed decisions not only on the management of their natural resources but also the sharing of benefits that may arise from use of such resources and the associated traditional knowledge,” the report on bio-cultural protocol quoting Sajwan stated.

Sajwan said the side event would showcase different models of conservation practised in the state, developed by various organisations. It will showcase the development of state strategy on medicinal plant conservation and sustainable use, community-based eco-tourism guidelines developed by the state tourism department and preparation of the protocols.

Rhododendron conservation will also be highlighted and a publication on a case study on enterprise-based conservation activity in Arunachal will be released.