- In the foothill villages of Jawadhi Hill, Thiruvannamalai district, some poverty stricken people enter into the nearby forest and cut small trees for the sake of making their livelihood. They cut the trees when the forest staffs are absent and sell the same as firewood. There are money-mongering people from the plains who make use of the tribal people if they cut the trees in the nearby forest. Sandalwood trees are their main targets. As result, the nearby forests that were once known to be full of sandalwood trees have been depleted of sandalwood trees. In the absence of sandalwood trees, their actions have extended to cut any tree that would yield them easy money.
- Adolescent cowherds and shepherds take their herds to the lands adjacent to the forests for grazing. While the animals are grazing, the boys and girls set fire to the bushes and bushels. They do this with the hope that when rain comes there will be plenty of grass. The fire extinguishes on its own most of the times. But there had been occasions where the wild fire had not extinguished but had spread to the forests causing great damage to the forests and wildlife. There had even been one occasion when two cloth vendors were caught in the wild fire and lost their lives.
- As a result of the depletion of forests and trees in the plains, rainfall has been much lower in the villages of the area over the past more than 5 years. With the diminishing rainfall, the ground water level has reached an all-time low level.
- Not finding enough water and food in the forests, wild animals, especially elephants, have started coming into the villages in search of food and they are observed to come in gangs. People and forest department staffs have many sleepless nights due this.
- The irrigation wells and bore wells and all other drinking water sources does not meet the increasing and diversified demand for water anymore. Not having enough water to cultivate, farmers have allowed the lands to remain fallow. Many farmers who have lands adjacent to the borders of the villages have chosen to sell their lands to real estate people. Hence lands that were once arable have now been converted into housing plots.
The presence of the above-mentioned factors warrant the need for taking up a project to make people more aware of the impending dangers of impeding with forests and nature.
The purpose of the project is twofold:
- The production of information or educational material
- The use of forest for commercial, educational and recreational purposes
Objectives of the project
- Preservation of the nearby forests in Jawadhi Hills for posterity;
- Creation of knowledgeable human resources in the countryside that could be relied upon to safeguard forests and forest wealth;
- To produce Photo Folder Books on different aspects and issues related to forests and use them as discussion tools in education programs for community members both during individual contacts and in group discussions;
- To organize group education programs for the following groups of people in each of the 20 project villages: cowherds and shepherds, wood cutters, school children, women self-help groups.