Please read the following declaration/appeal, and circulate/post it widely.
Any intiative to translate and circulate in Indian languages would also be greatly appreciated.
Happy New Year!
(Final draft for
circulation, Jan 1, 2015)
‘Forest Foods and
An appeal for a new consciousness of empathy and wise governance –
to protect our rich natural heritage, culture, and harmonious collective
We, from numerous Adivasi and forest-dependent communities in India, along with people from
different streams of society, gathered at the “Forest Foods & Ecology”
Festival, December 12 to 14, 2014 at Sri Aurobindo Society, New Delhi. About
1200 varieties of forest/uncultivated foods from various parts of the country
were displayed, sharing our rich heritage of Nature’s gifts.
The forests run deep in our
life-blood; and we feel anguish seeing the grave threats they face. As an
outcome of our joint discussions, we – forest-dependent communities, supported
by others – declare:
natural forests are a nurturing mother to us. Our very identities, cultures and
world-views are closely linked to the forests that provide our primary needs.
forests and other common lands bless us with many invaluable gifts – abundant, diverse,
nutritious foods, medicinal plants, and numerous other useful products – vital
to our daily life and livelihoods for generations beyond count, particularly in
times of scarcity, like droughts.
rich traditional knowledge and understanding of our bio-diverse forests, evolved
over millennia, is passed on from generation to generation, along with a spirit
of respect and gratitude. Our cultures discourage greed, the root of scarcity,
harm and sorrow.
natural forests regenerate our life-sustaining environment, essential for the
well-being of all on earth. They harvest the sun’s energy, produce biomass, create
fertile topsoil and guard against its erosion. They moderate the climate,
mitigate global warming, provide oxygen, bring rain, recharge groundwater,
buffer against floods, and provide habitats for rich biodiversity.
attempt to cut down the forests, threatens grave environmental damage. It also
violates our fundamental right to life and livelihood. We pledge to do our
utmost to safeguard our forests and the rich life it harbours – for the well-being
and joy of all!
sarkari laws and their implementation
– to safeguard our community forest rights, life cultures and livelihoods –
need further strengthening, not weakening, so that Mother Forest continues to
remain healthy to nurture us and future generations.
cannot understand how anyone can claim to possess any kind of proprietary
right, including ‘Intellectual Property Right’ (IPR), over any part of our
ancient wealth or traditional knowledge, violating our ethos and our age-old
collective rights. This is neither reasonable nor acceptable.
education system ignores our cultures and local natural resources, alienating
the young from our former healthy and ecologically-sustainable lifestyles. This
needs to change urgently.
traditional wholesome foods are part of our culture. The government food
schemes should respect this, and not pollute our young with inferior, alien
foods and tastes.
forests and traditional commons, our peoples and our cultures, are all under grave
threat from misconceived “development” projects, grabbing by outsiders, and by modern
agricultural methods and mono-cultural plantations. These do grave harm, and
must stop now. We further call for an immediate end to our displacement and dispossession
by such short-sighted, destructive projects that devastate our life-culture and
threaten our very survival.
seek a rethinking of money-centric ‘development policies’, and urge a holistic
approach that respects our cultures and sustainable lifestyles; and which enables
us to live and thrive on our ancestral lands, safeguarding the country’s rich ecological
and cultural heritage.
declare that we will do our very best to keep alive our rich heritage resources
and traditions. Welcoming a new era, we urge the support of all – to safeguard and
regenerate the health of our Mother Earth and forests. Our warm greetings and heartfelt
wishes are extended to all; and we humbly ask you to support us!
This declaration is hereby
collectively endorsed by the following representatives of adivasi and
forest-dwelling/dependent communities, supported by other undersigned civil
society representatives, public health experts, nutrition scientists,
ecologists, educators, sociologists, senior State functionaries and concerned