Intensify efforts to engage community in forest conservation: Arunachal minister
Mama Natung

Umsaw (Meghalaya): Sustainable development and enhanced community partnership are needed to protect environment in the Northeast, experts at the seventh edition of the Northeast Green Summit that concluded here on Tuesday said.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on green initiatives in the region was signed between the army’s ‘Eco Task Force’ and summit organiser Vibgyor NE Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that specialises in green issues of Northeast India.

Arunachal Pradesh Forest Minister Mama Natung, the chief guest at the valedictory function, urged people to treat the flora and fauna around them as their family.

“We should follow the philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (world is one family) and treat rivers, forests, birds and animals around us as our own family members. Only then can we protect the environment,” he said.

The minister called for enhanced “community partnership” and asked people to change the way they think about nature.

Urging people to visit Northeast, especially Arunachal Pradesh, for its greenery and “clean air”, Natung said, “There are no air purifiers in the Northeast and we plan to keep it that way.”

Rajdeep Roy, an MP and board member of the summit, said the next generation must be encouraged to earn their livelihood in an eco-friendly way.

“We must ensure sustainable development and growth. Public participation is the need of the hour for greening of the planet. We need ‘jan bhagidari’ (public participation) and the time to act is now,” he said.

The theme of the three-day event at the North Eastern Police Academy (NEPA) here was, ‘Balancing people, planet, profit: Sustainable Northeast India and BIMSTEC region’.

The event brought together policy makers, green professionals and budding entrepreneurs to deliberate on ways to deal with the challenges that climate change throws up for the region, a statement from Vibgyor said.

The experts noted with concern that the forest cover in Northeast reduced by 1,020 sqkm in 2021 compared to 2019.

During the summit, several panel discussions saw experts exchange views on different topics such as skilling of rural population for promotion of bio-entrepreneurship and commercial potential of traditional foods.

One of the sessions underlined the need for a regional collaboration for sustainable use of medicinal and aromatic plants in BIMSTEC region, while another dwelled on policy for a disaster-ready society and enhancement of livelihoods.

The event celebrated the rich and diverse natural and cultural heritage of Northeast India, showcased their inter-linkages and focused on the need for an integrated approach for sustaining this heritage, the NGO said.

The summit also put the spotlight on the region’s achievements in adopting green practices, products and services, it said.

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