A view from India: Creating a global network for conservation SEARCH NEWS

Mary and Sunil

The World Land Trust (WLT) invites partner organisation the Wildlife Trust of India on a study tour to the UK and Paraguay to share conservation knowledge and experience

Mary and Sunil

After working in the WLT office we aimed to show Sunil a few local sites in Suffolk.  He particularly enjoyed his afternoon by the sea at Southwold with Mary Tibbett, WLT Programmes Officer (Asia and Africa Regions).

In January 2011, Sunil Kyarong from the Wildlife Trust of India visited the World Land Trust (WLT) in the UK so that the two partner organisations could exchange knowledge and skills. Providing this opportunity for staff members from our partner organisations to visit each other creates a strong global network to benefit conservation. While at our Suffolk-based offices, Sunil gave a passionate presentation to WLT staff about the importance of our joint work. He said:

“The toughest profession today is wildlife conservation, because we are losing everything at an increasingly faster rate. The impact of losing wildlife and habitat is reaching everyone; it is impacting the Americans, it’s impacting the British, and it is directly impacting our people in rural India. It is now a global concern and we need action.”

Sunil has been with WTI for 11 years, spending most of his time carrying out on-the-ground conservation work. Over the years, he has been involved in a huge range of projects that are directly benefiting India’s wildlife – from restoring degraded forests so that habitats can regenerate, to organising wild rescues that move threatened animals to protected reserves. Currently, Sunil is the Coordinator of the Wild Lands programme; he is working with local people in Garo Hills, in the north-eastern state of Meghalaya, encouraging them to set aside areas of their land as community-owned wildlife reserves.

Visiting Paraguay

After visiting Suffolk, Sunil flew to Paraguay to visit WLT’s partner Guyra Paraguay, where they discussed their experiences of working in the field. Andrea Ferreira, Assistant to the Executive Office at Guyra Paraguay, said: “Sunil shared his knowledge with our rangers, particularly those at San Rafael in the Atlantic Rainforest, and it has been a great learning experience for us. After his presentation we all agreed how much we at Guyra have in common with WTI.” While visiting Guyra Paraguay, Sunil was particularly interested in their REDD+ project(Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) that was first established by WLT in 2008. The project aims to protect around 800,000t of carbon stored in the biodiversity-rich Chaco and the Atlantic forest. WLT is now exploring the possibility of setting-up another carbon offsetting project, this time with WTI in India. Sunil’s past experience coupled with the knowledge he gained from Guyra Paraguay will be important to the future success of this project, delivering carbon offsets and protecting the county’s natural resources.

Benefits of the study tour

When Sunil returned to India, Dr Sandeep Kumar Tiwari (Manager of the WTI’s Wild Lands programme) reported back to us on the benefits of the study tour. He said: “Visiting Guyra Paraguay gave Sunil ideas on how to use a conservation initiative from another part of the world and replicate a similar model in India, while adapting it to our local conditions.” Sandeep also felt that Sunil had a better understanding of the needs of our supporters, both the individuals and the corporate donors. “He now knows how to present conservation projects so that our supporters can see how their contribution is making a meaningful change in the area”, said Sandeep. “For Sunil the trip has been a learning experience, both professionally and on a personal level. He now looks at conservation issues with a wider spectrum – I am sure this will not only help him, but all of us.”