Formed in 2011, Rainforest Club Tamenglong is a non-profit organisation based in Tamenglong, Manipur. It was established by a group of volunteers who strive for a better Tamenglong by engaging themselves in various social activities and campaigns relating to conservation of environment and wildlife in the district. Currently the team comprises of nature lovers across different fields and age groups, everyone from students to government employees work hand in hand to ensure the goals of the club are met. ‘Presently, the club has 40 members who are volunteers and 20 patron members,’ shares the team.
The Journey So Far
So far, the club has been associated with a number of activities. ‘Some of the activities that the club is involved in are awareness campaigns, tree plantation, working with the State Forest and Environment Department on conservation of rare flora and fauna. Apart from that, the club is also actively involved and respond to rescue and safe releasing of animals and birds in the district level. The club also spearheads some important events such as World Environment Day, Wildlife Week, Amur Falcon Conservation and Festival.’
Of course, working in the field of conservation comes with its own set of challenges. ‘Lack of experts working in the field of conservation, lack of trained personnel and institutions providing education and training to work in the field of conservation has always been our greatest challenge. Adding to this, our deeply rooted traditions i.e. our tribal practices of hunting and gathering food is also another factor which requires strategic intervention, in-depth study and understanding of local traditions to come up with alternative means of livelihood if conservation is to be successful and effective.’
From the time of inception, the club has not had any proper/regular funding agencies. ‘However, we take up short term projects by collaborating with the Forest Department in organising seminars and awareness campaigns in the neighbouring villages and in the town itself.’
The Flaw in the Plan
It may seem that the need of the hour is to establish more such clubs all across the Northeast but the team shares that it is not always the best way to go with regards to conservation. ‘As far we are aware, there are a few organisations already working on conservation issues in the district, which is enough ‘if’ these organisations have the proper training and exposure. However, due to the lack of expertise and trained people, lack of government institutions providing employment opportunities, results are not what they should be. In Manipur, particularly in the hill areas such as Tamenglong, Ukhrul, and Chandel, we need more funding agencies and training programmes rather than more organisations.’
The Next Gen
The team reveals that youth and school students are the main stakeholders and target of the club. They have groups of two- four youths from each surrounding village of the district who are members of the club. ‘The club is very particular about gender mainstreaming and we provide equal importance and platforms for both genders across age groups.’
Local organizations that have supported the club are the District Administration, village Panchayats and authorities, local CSOs, schools and churches, Forest Department of Tamenglong, and the Central University of Manipur. People from the town also contribute in the activities.
In the long run, the Club aims to promote cognitive based conservation of environment through their activities. They also hope to address the problems of the community so as to encourage more and more locals towards conservation.
Goals of the Club
- To carry out environmental awareness activities addressed to specific groups and to society in general. To promote and develop by own initiative or by third party request, reports, projects, training activities, studies or opinion related to environmental management systems and labels.
- Provide a forum for bringing together experiences related to natural and built environment from individuals, institutions and organisations.
- Protection of the environment as well as the recovery and preservation of biodiversity by considering the impact of corporate activities upon biodiversity.
- Encouragement of volunteers and active participation of young people in environmental protection, reinforcement of active participation in regards to environment protection and issues.
- To create awareness regarding environmental pollution and environmental degradation, and its effect(s) on human health, social set-up, economy and politics.
- The club aims to mobilize/organise and train/enable communities for collective actions to promote sustainable development, and to achieve it through promoting values of civil society.
This feature was first published in Eclectic Northeast December 2018 issue