Nature Forever Society gives the Sparrow Awards to everyday heroes who care about conservation

Dilsher Khan, a welder in Satna, Madhya Pradesh, manufactures agricultural tools. He also monitors the local vulture population.

In the remote village of Mangvana in Kutch, a school with 121 tribal and socially backward community students has undertaken a massive afforestation drive, and transformed the barren landscape around them.

Bhavin Shah, a wholesaler in FMCG goods from Coimbatore, has helped nearly 25 industries adopt nest boxes to make their premises sparrow-friendly.

L. Shyamal from Karnataka is a bio-medical statistical analyst. He is also the biggest contributor of Indian natural history in Wikipedia. His software, Birdspot, has a database of 50,000 birds.

Drawn from different backgrounds and professions, they are all environment warriors. And, recognising these people and their initiatives are the Sparrow Awards. The Nature Forever Society (NFS), Nashik, gives away these awards.

“As far as conservation goes, citizens have been kept out. But, if we have to save species, such as the sparrows, it is vital to be democratic and involve more everyday people. The awards recognise the common man, not the professionals or organisations who work towards conservation and ecology,” says Mohammed Dilawar, founder and president of NFS.

These awards, Mohammed hopes, will make conservation seem less elitist and show that it can be done by anyone, in any scale. “People do so much work at the grassroots level, but never get any recognition,” he rues.

Mohammed has been part of the team that sifted through the entries for 2011 and 2012 and checked out the veracity of the people involved. “Their stories are morale boosters. When you recognise them, others think, ‘if they can do it, why not us?’”

The awards are given out in two categories — three for individuals and one for organisations including business/institutions/community group. Nominations are invited for the 2013 Sparrow Awards. Those involved in conservation work can apply themselves. Or, those who know of someone who is, can apply on their behalf. The Society scrutinises every person nominated to see how effective their work is.

“We accept nominations for every kind of work related to conservation, including green technology. Basically, any work that will make a difference to the planet,” says Mohammed. “We wish people send us more nominations. India is such a huge country; we depend on people to let us know of the good work being done.”

The last date to apply is February 23, 2013. For details, call 0253-2411022, e-mail info@natureforever.org or visit www.natureforever.org