SENR BiWeek August 6, 2012 A NOTE FROM DAVID~ AN UPDATE STAFF APPRECIATION PUBLICATIONS EVENTS
DIVYA GUPTA SHARES HER FIELDWORK IN INDIA ~
I returned from India this summer after spending six months collecting data for my dissertation. My dissertation is on the role of local institutions in natural resource management. For data collection I was working in the central Himalayan region where I visited several villages to interview people about forest management activities that are conducted and coordinated by the local institution in the region. This local institution is called Van Panchayat (Forest Committee), it is a traditional institution that dates back to 1931. Since it was formed before independence (India got its independence in August 1947), it is significant in terms of rights of locals’ to natural resources. I collaborated with an NGO working in the region that helped me with navigating remote villages and also with arranging accommodations in the villages. Going from one village to another was a challenge as there was lack of proper road network so driving was near to impossible, but thankfully there were paths/trails that very intricately connected all the villages. Those trails were very beautiful, they cut through dense tropical forests and since I would walk on those trails on early mornings and evenings, it also gave me a chance to spot some beautiful birds on my way. I walked 7-10 miles/day on an average to get to my destination, which was hard in the beginning, but with time my body adapted. Also, the walking helped with keeping the body warm during cold winters. Unlike the west, the east experienced one of the coldest winters last year. The houses on the hills in India don’t have central heating systems, they barely receive a continuous 24 hour supply of electricity and water, so people burn wood to keep their houses warm and drink lots of ginger tea to keep their bodies warm. To understand the dependence of people on the forests, I did a lot of homestays – staying with local families was one of my most enriching experiences, it gave me a chance to see firsthand how closely these people’s lives were associated with forests. Also it was amazing to see how self-dependent those people were. They almost grew all their food, from grains to cereals to fruit and vegetables and even spices. Without any outside help, family members would work together to manage their fields – it was quite incredible! I became very attached to all the families I lived with, they took very good care of me and always made sure that I was comfortable. While conducting field work in India, I received funding from the Environment Change Institute (University of Oxford) to participate at a conference in London. This was a unique opportunity for me to share ideas about my research, talk about its progress, and at the same time get valuable feedback from experienced people working in the same area. Being my first time in the UK, this was a great chance for me to also explore parts of England and Scotland too! Continued on page 2
SENR BiWeek — 2
On behalf of Ron Hendrick, I am excited to share information about a new service for a broad range of people who are professionally engaged in managing, protecting, and using our environment and natural resources, including students. The SENR will launch the Environmental Professionals Network (EPN) August 7th with two main components: multi-disciplinary interaction and networking through a community-oriented website at epn.osu.edu, and a monthly 2nd Tuesdays Breakfast Club on campus featuring great speakers on timely topics and offering additional networking opportunities. The EPN will strengthen SENR's support of people and organizations engaged in environmental management across Ohio and beyond. We recognize that even though society is information rich, quickly accessing information useful for your own needs can be quite challenging. This...