Impact: Goa’s rich green cover saved by community uprising

The local residents of Goa have used traditional medicines made from various local herbs and plants found their gardens and forest to lead a healthy life. The foliage in the forest is fodder for cattle from nearby villages.

The Forest department of Goa was felling indegenous trees of the local forests of Canacona district, Goa and planting trees that were foreign to the forests under the pretext of increasing the forest cover in the area. The newer trees served no purpose either as medicines nor as fodder. The felling of trees at such high rates also decreased the forest cover, which contradicted the Forest department’s purpose too. “We could see deep into the forest from the main road due to lack of forest cover,” recalls However, the mindless felling continued. Video Volunteers Goa correspondent Devidas Gaonkar identified this issue and made an issue video on the matter back in 2012. “Awareness of the issue is important in a community for effective action. I screened this video in every village in my area, educating them about the pros and cons of such felling and gathering their support to stop this activity,” says Devidas.

The community, aware of the consequences joined hands with Devidas and other residents of Canacona and supported their efforts to stop felling the indigenous forest. “Devidas collected the necessary proofs, photographs and prepared presentations to show the villagers what is happening in the forest,” says Devendra Tawadkar, a local resident. Once the community was aware, Devidas went to schools, colleges and even to the government offices to create awareness on the matter. He supported this exercise with writing letters to the Range Forest Officers and officials at Forest department headquarters in Panjim, Goa. Devidas also presented an appeal to Ramesh Tawadkar, Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) and Sports Minister – Goa.

The pressure built by Devidas and his community forced the Forest officials to discontinue the felling of indigenous trees as of 2015. As his parting words, Devidas gives advice to hundreds of marginalised community, “If you or your community is suffering from any problems, come together as one and fight the problem. Become your own saviour.”

Community correspondent Devidas Gaonkar reports from Goa for Video Volunteers.

This video was made by a Video Volunteers Community Correspondent. Community Correspondents come from marginalised communities in India and produce videos on unreported stories. These stories are ’news by those who live it.’ they give the hyperlocal context to global human rights and development challenges. See more such videos at Take action for a more just global media by sharing their videos and joining in their call for change. we could hyperlink to some VV pages, like our take action page.

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