Udhagamandalam: With the release of the ‘The Nilgiri Declaration’ the curtain came down on the week-long International Climate Champions Field Camp in Coonoor on Saturday.
It was organised by the British Council in association with the Nilgiri Documentation Centre (NDC). Twenty seven international climate champions from ten countries along with three students from Coimbatore and five from the Nilgiris participated.
The camp which sought to seek evidence, speak out, improve understanding and inspire positive action in the Nilgiris expressed the hope that by the end of 2015 the measures listed in the declaration would be implemented.
Urging all concerned including the Indian citizens, the government, policy-makers, scientific community, the media, non-governmental organisations, donor agencies and other national and international organisations to foster an ethos of integrated land management to conserve the mountain ecosystem, it stressed the need for research on climate change focusing on its impacts, adaptation, mitigation and necessary measures to raise awareness and foster necessary changes.
Among other things the declaration wanted strict enforcement of laws and policies with appropriate amendments considering degradation and climate change on existing as well as new constructions to encourage eco-friendly development.
Steps should be taken to discourage and restrict construction of buildings in landslide-prone areas.
All commercial buildings should fulfil the minimum standards set for obtaining green building certification in order to minimize the impact on the environment.
The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR) should have a separate governing body with regard to conservation and sustainable development and it should be formed with adequate powers consisting of representatives from the three states that border the Nilgiris and the local community.
Eco-tourism should be properly implemented to ensure that the tourists abide by the rules and regulations set by the authorities concerned.
Progressive tax should be paid by tourism service providers. It would help conservation and sustainable development of the Nilgiri mountains with the participation of the local communities.
Focus should be on proper waste management, a planned drainage system and eco-sanitation.
Environmental education and natural resource management should be incorporated from the primary level of education with emphasis on hands on training. The phased removal of exotic and invasive species should be accelerated and the natural eco-system restored.
Integration of indigenous knowledge and the involvement of indigenous people in the decision making policy should be considered by the government.
Alternative and eco-friendly sources of energy should be introduced in a phased manner in the NBR.
The declaration was released by the Field Director, Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Rajiv K. Srivastava. Among those present were the Director (South), British Council Chris Gibson, the Deputy Director (South), British Council Kartar Singh and the Director, Nilgiris Documentation Centre, Dharmalingam Venugopal.