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5th RST Forum held on International Mountain Day

By Our Staff Reporter
Dehradun, 11 Dec: The 5th RST Forum was held here, today, on the occasion of International Mountain Day. Binita Shah, Secretary, Sustainable Development Forum Uttaranchal (SDFU), in her welcome address, remembered the contributions made by Dr Raghunandan Singh Tolia, in whose memory the SDFU organizes different programs under the RST forum.
This year, a workshop on ‘Role of Community based organisations (CBOs) and women in management of forests and climate change mitigation in Uttarakhand’, was organised on 11 December. The workshop focused on van panchayats; the largest community-based organisation functional in Uttarakhand. The mandate of the van panchayats is to manage forests with community participation.
PD Rai (former MP, Sikkim and president IMI, Gangtok) emphasised on the importance of recognizing the role of women and community-based organizations in mitigating climate change. Jyotsna Sitling (PCCF, Van Panchayat) said that this workshop was truly beneficial for the empowerment of the activities of the van panchayats. STS Lepcha (Chairman, SDFU) laid emphasis on identifying the research gaps and understanding the linkages among climate change, adaptation and mitigation in the gender perspective.
A keynote lecture was delivered by Dr BS Barfal (Former PCCF & Former Chairman, USBB). Dr BS Barfal said that for efficient functioning of the van panchayats, there is a need to create awareness and work closely with women self-help groups (SHGs). He also said that Uttarakhand is the only state in the country which has van panchayats. However, the Biodiversity Management Committee (BMC) formed throughout the country contradicts the functioning of the van panchayat. The area and working of the BMC remain unclear. To have better coordination between the two bodies, he proposed that a new guideline be formulated.  He also recommended formation of an independent cadre for management of the van panchayat. Gopal Singh Rawat (former Director, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun) suggested that the BMCs could help in restoring the meadows and alpine areas.
The workshop sessions were chaired by Prof AN Purohit (Councilor, SDFU) and N Ravishankar (Vice Chancellor DIT and Director, Doon Library & Research Centre).

The workshop was supported by the Nainital Bank. The workshop saw participation from Uttarakhand’s Joshimath, Almora, Bageshwar, Tehri, Pauri and Sikkim. Around 70 people attended the workshop.