Profile #7: Maharashtra Vruksha Samvardhini (MVS) – Mission Devrai

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Nature conservation is very much a way of life in India, deep rooted in our ancient culture. Our forefathers, in a unique way, have ensured biodiversity conservation with people’s participation. Sacred groves and forests are examples of such traditional wisdom. Sacred Groves are forest patches dedicated to the local deity, and faith and taboo play a very effective forest guarding mechanism restricting human interventions in groves.

Sacred Groves are common pool resources or important elements of ecosystem. These small patches of forests, protected by village communities, allowed nature to sustain its own way so that it can support various life forms like trees, herbs, shrubs, climbers and various dependent microbial & animal life, and cherish many such examples. Worship is one way of protection.

As we all know, that this beautiful tradition was seldom recognized formally and remained unknown to common man until Dr. V. D. Vartak and Dr. Madhav Gadgil brought it into lime light, and since then this unique institution of Devrai or the Sacred Grove is universally studied for its wonders and its uses in present day problems like diminishing biodiversity, climate change and rapid deforestation

In fact, nature lovers all over the world were thrilled by the foresight of our ancestors and the role of traditional societies in conservation.

Till now many of these Devrais or Sacred Groves are conserved by the local people on the strength of faith in deities, but increasing competition for natural resources is eroding the faith.

Taboos do not work for a long time, and now people need to be made aware about the importance of Sacred Groves in present context! These dwindling sacred groves highlighted the necessity of a sustained social movement by all sections of society for its protection and Mission Devrai came into being as a sustained social movement involving all sections of society for protection through educating masses about the science behind Sacred Groves.

Maharashtra Vruksha Samvardhini (MVS) is a pioneer NGO tirelessly working in the field of Environment and making Pune Green for last 25 years .Eminent Botanist Late Dr.V.D.Vartak who has done pioneering work on Devrai and sacred forest founded MVS in 1989 along with like-minded experts like Shri.Yashwantrao Jadhav, ex IGR forests Shri Prabhakar Pandit Sir and others. The organization is completing 25 years this year and as a tribute to Dr. V.D. Vartak, they have started this Mission Devrai.

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The primary aim of Mission Devrai is to educate masses about this concept of Sacred Groves and its important role in bio-diversity and ecological conservation, It is very essential for the very survival of our society.  We want to associate all like-minded individuals, institutions & NGOs in this initiative for protecting and conserving Sacred Groves in its pristine form.  This initiative is for protecting Sacred Groves and it is not intended to be restricted to a single initiative by one institution. We do not want to fragment the support base of nature lovers supporting Devrai and thus it is essential for us that any one even remotely interested in protecting Devrai should be approached and gets involved. So, as a first step we want to enhance the awareness in the society and towards this aim we had started Mission Devrai activities with a series of lectures ,workshops etc .

We will not be able to conserve anything unless we are aware of it and its value is known and understood by us through some experts .The purpose of  Devrai Familiarization Visit is to introduce Devrai to an uninitiated nature lover accompanied by the expert who can explain the importance of sacred groves or devrai

This festival a Devrai Familiarization Visit is planned as a bus tour. Also planned is a Lecture on Devrai by Experts.

 

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