Conservation and Forestry Field School in India
This six credit, month-long intensive forestry and conservation field course was organized by Dr Suzie Lavallee (Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences) as part of the program in Natural Resources Conservation. The course explores how conservation efforts and forest resource management can alter the livelihoods and empowerment of local people in India. Through discussions with government officials, indigenous peoples, and researchers, students learn how lives can be changed by conservation initiatives and the importance of new approaches to managing forest resources.
The course was established through a well-formed partnership between the Faculty of Forestry and colleagues in India, including the Wildlife Institute of India. Every year, researchers from the Indian Forest Service visit UBC and tour BC’s forests.
Excerpt from an interview from one of the participating students, Joanna Lee:
We spent the first 2 weeks of our trip at the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, and the last 2 in the southernmost state of Kerala. I don’t think any of us were prepared for the diversity we would find within this vast country – where culture, language, food, attire and climate can change so drastically as you cross the landscape.
Compared to the blistering heat of Uttarakhand, southern India was balmy and lush, with rolling hills of thick rainforest and healthy plantations of tea, spices and rubber. At Periyar we learned from the Munnar people about eco-tourism, conservation and how their lives have changed over the years of running the reserve. The time we spent interacting with tribal peoples, researchers, officials and students was not restricted to our field of study, as conversation often drifted from conservation and forestry to family, religion and goals in our respective countries. There is really something to be said for how much more you can learn from immersing yourself into a lifestyle and culture, rather than studying it from halfway across the world.
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