The Energy and Wetlands Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences of the Indian Institute of Science has been engaged in various types of ecological and biodiversity related studies in Uttara Kannada for over 25 years, and has made many contributions and guidance related to documentation, sustainable use, conservation of biodiversity etc. Considering this background the State Biodiversity Board and the Western Ghats Task Force have entrusted us with a project to estimate Ecological Carrying Capacity of Uttara Kannada.
Estimating carrying capacity of biodiversity rich Uttara Kannada district is very essential and is going to be a model for the entire country. The study will for the first time systematically document biodiversity and other resources, including human resources, traditional knowledge, productivity of natural and agricultural systems, evaluate all kinds of land and water ecosystems and give recommendations for kinds of developmental projects which suit the ecology of the district and benefit the local population in many ways without endangering the ecosystems in any way.
This is a very ambitious project and it is our desire that the project should be carried out with the close co-operation and participation of the people. In this regard, recently, we prepared a simple plan for ecological studies at village level with the help of high school students. The plan was carried out experimentally with the participation of students and teachers from about 60 high schools. Students studied individually or in small groups about 120 villages and created a wonderful database under a scheme Namma Grama Biodiveristy. Their valuable contribution covers many aspects of village biodiversity, such as
- Traditional crop varieties and their special qualities; names of farmers who are conserving traditional varieties of specially rice, banana, mango, jack, pepper, tuber crops etc.
- Traditional livestock races
- Plant and animal diversity of land and water
- Wild plants used as food in villages
- Medicinal plants and their uses
- Village-wise list of nati-vaidyas specialized in treating diseases of humans and domestic animals
- Local methods of crop disease and pest control
- Information on sacred groves of the villages
- Village-wise database on perennial water bodies
- Village artisans and other knowledge individuals