Management and funding
Conservation Action Trust (CAT) is a registrered nonprofit organisation. It is run by Mr Debi Goenka and supported by a team of specialists including conservationists, ornithologists, wetland specialists and lawyers.
CAT’s main objective is environmental protection, especially forests and wildlife. It has been active in educating decision makers and the public about forest importance for human survival – especially in protecting water security.
CAT also gives technical information, legal advice, aid and equipment to people confronting environmental problems.
CAT intends to start a wetland centre in cooperation with the Forest Department. Management would be by CAT. Land would be provided by the Forest Department without transferring any rights. Funds would be raised through donations and entry fees for the park.
Mumbai is one of the most populated Asian cities (minimum open space per 1000 people = 0.03 acres). Despite such pressures, Mumbai reained a 103 sq km forest, the National Park, despite pressure from encroachers and land sharks. Debi Goenka, working as an activist with the Bombay Environment Action Group (BEAG) took the battle to court to ensure protection of the unique forest.
After the High Court orders, BEAG ensured removal of over 49,000 slums from the encroached areas. See www.beag.net
The next battle was to ensure the survival of large mangrove areas surrounding Mumbai (49 sq km of coastline). These were trhreatened by development resulting from the recent boom of infrastructure development.
BEAG filed a Public Interest Litigation as the mangroves were fast disappearing despite protection under the Environmental Protection Act. The High Court issued interim orders to the Government to protect the mangroves.
Despite this, mangroves and wetlands are little understood and appreciated i Mumbai. There is not a single centre in the city working in the public domain and forthe masses. CAT hopes to change this.
The proposed centre would have:
- orientation centre
- visitor centre
- self-guided nature trails
- wayside exhibits and roadside guide with numbered markers
- souvenir shop
- visitor facilities
- camping and special events
- mobile exhibits and outreach
- reseach facilities and opportunities
- education and training
To be surveyed.
CAT has a Think Green Programme.
Messages for the new wetland centre:
- wetlands (mangroves) are ecological indicators of the environmental performance of citizens from upstream.
- mangrove health is directly dependent on Mumbai’s environmental performance.
- mangroves can perform a platform for citizens to mtackle environmental challenges.
- wetland centre can provide necessary infrastructure for this purpose.
- cooperation and participatory approach would ensure larger outreach.
Interpretation and exhibitory
Basic ideas are ready – not yet ready for public domain
Formal (school and university) learning
As part of ‘Think Green- make a difference’ project, CAT has carried out several school programmes and other institutions like mobile creches.
A database of educational tools is being prepared. The resource centre has lesson plans, films, classroom games and activities.
CAT, with other NGOs, has conducted field trips to Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai, to expose students to the biodiversity of a forest around the city of Mumbai.
Data are programmes are tailored to syllabi and curricula set by the Board of Education. These are in the form of easily understood informal teaching aids and powerpoint presentations for teachers.
Curriculum-based teacher training was conducted in various schools. CAT organises resource persons to undertake field trips and in-school projects.
The proposed wetland centre would take these activities to a higher level.
Informal (general public) learning
There would be a strong publications element including regular newsletters, brochures and booklets for the general public.
CAT conducts workshops and meetings with NGOs and plans more in the future to understand the requirements of schools, and how to reach the maximum number.
Currently CAT has three Conservation Officers, three environmental educators and two administrative personnel. There is a strong team of volunteers and experts who help from time to time. Even legal advisors and advocates work pro bono. Staff will be expanded with the new centre.