Women’s Participation might Energize the Forests and Climate Solutions

Gautam Kumar Das

Girls are the very image of trees and that scenario is noticed in the waist-deep Bidya river waters at the riverbank of Jharkhali of the Sunderbans when a girl stopped pulling her nylon-made net to take a rest for a while. She was capturing of tiger prawn broods by pulling net in the river waters to earn the bread for her family. That very girl, standing in the river waters, looks like a young keora tree (Sonneratia caseolaris - a typical mangroves) from the river embankment with about 200 meters. Before going down to the river waters for prawn brood capture, she keeps her orna (lady’s gauze scarf) upon a bain tree (Avicennia marina – a typical mangroves) nearby the embankment and after finishing her day’s capture, she comes to the tree, adores the tree at its stem and branches and collects her orna. This picturesque incident reflects that the girls can be tree people too. They care trees from the core of the heart alike their own children. Affinity for the trees and caress for them by the women’s community are also noticed when the tribal women are engaged in a plantation programme of the forest department in Garh Jangal forest areas under Durgapur Forest Ranges of the Bardhaman Forest Division. They care every saplings of the trees alike their siblings during the entire plantation period and watered them as if they offer the water to their kith and kin. Another group of tribal women, involved in collection of dry leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds and flosses from the forest floor in a separate spot in the same forest of Garh Jangal areas, but they are noticed not to wound any tree of the treelines of the forests in any form, though they affright of the sudden visit of the forest officials. Women have such several empowering tales to become tree people by making a balance between environment and occupation for the better nature.

On contrary, male-dominated working group for managing forests sometimes do things against the harmony of the forests and forestry. Men categorically the tribal people are mostly habituated with the smoking and usually they throw the end part of the smoking materials towards the jungle area that might cause a man-made forest fire. Sometimes they preyed the jungle hen and made a temporary arrangement for the preparation of their lunch inside the jungle area where they used the green fresh branches of the forest trees as fuel wood that caused a huge emission of nitric oxides, nitrous oxides and carbon monoxides like greenhouse gases. Even the male group leader of the women working group drink huge quantity of haria (an indigenously made tribal drink) and lies down on the forest floor unconsciously without performing his duties for which he is being appointed. If the male group leader is replaced by a female one, she might work with the other women labourer without any hesitation and consequently the progress of work will be carried on smoothly. Further, the rural tribal women, living in the vicinity of the forest stands, are generally detached from any political involvement, so at least they never biased the officials of the forest department or the concerned authority by giving wrong information or fake news  related to the forests and forestry. Such women group leaders should be selected by the local Gram Panchayet (the village body) as the Gram Panchayet is supposed to be a democratic platform for screening the women group leaders  and their team members for caring and nourishing the treelines of the forest patches.

Carbon is sequestered from the atmospheric carbon dioxides by the treelines of the forest stands and thus, enrich the carbon pool beneath the forest floors. Sound forest heath accelerate such absorption of carbon dioxide and keep up the balance of the natural environment and help to combat the effects of the climate change as a result of excessive emission of carbon dioxide from the industrial belt. Rural tribal women are not much benefitted directly by the products of such industries, but they carry on their work for the removal of their bye-products. Further, these wonderful tribal women can do campaign and discuss about the plans and priorities for the action to be taken for mitigation of climate change through integrity monitoring of forest health if they are invited for a discussion organised by the forest department or climate managers. Overall the women leaders would work in a fantastic network leading and helping to develop the young saplings into a forest of luxuriant green canopy with their motherly affectionate love and caress. 

Oct 31, 2020

 Gautam Kumar Das

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