- Cities for Forests
WWF-India’s Cities for Forests is a national level campaign focusing on raising awareness about the intrinsic link between forests and human well-being amongst the youth..
The United Nation’s General Assembly has declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests (IYF). With an overall aim of raising awareness about conservation of forests, and strengthening efforts towards their sustainable management and development, this year provides an opportunity to focus on forests with a perspective of making a positive change in policies and action. This also serves as a springboard for long term campaigns aimed at improving our forests, and involving the current and future generations in the ideology of building a ‘one-planet world’.
WWF released a which forms the crux of the Living Forests campaign, aimed to convene a conversation with partners, policy makers and businesses about how to protect, conserve, sustainably use, and govern the world’s forests in the 21 st century. WWF also advocates ‘Zero Net Deforestation and Degradation* (ZNDD) by 2020’ as a target that reflects the scale and urgency with which threats to the world’s forests need to be tackled.
Through the ‘Cities for Forests’ campaign, WWF aims to focus on the issue of urban forests, target the youth, and create an example of developing knowledge and skills with respect to urban forests. In the long term, this idea can be extrapolated to enhance urban understanding on the value of forests, and educating people on the utility and benefits of natural forest cover.
In the first phase, the campaign will involve a predecided number of schools in each city. WWF-India staff will engage with the teachers and students to orient them about the campaign, its call to action and deliverables. We will focus our efforts on 5-10 schools per city to ensure quality and outcome of the deliverables. However, it will be open to other schools for participation, who will receive information about the campaign through promotions, online media, or word of mouth. After committing participation, the school will take up the project and will be entrusted with the task of motivating its students, explaining the methodology, organising activities under the campaign and undertaking field visits to the nearby forest or natural space.
As part of the project work, students will also have an option to find their own forests. During a specified period of 1–2 months, the students will form groups and research about the various natural spaces within their city or on the outskirts. This will ensure that a number of natural spaces around one city are explored by different schools, bringing out the biodiversity still existing around urban spaces.
The school will then organize trips to these natural spaces, a walk through the city forest, visit to the nearby lake, green patch, sanctuary, or even beach would be the exercise to educate the students about the issues and the related problems. During the course of the visit, which could be for a day, or overnight, the students will gain first-hand information regarding the specific ecosystem and the threats faced by it. Such an outdoor exercise will provide a chance to sensitise the outlook of students and inspire constructive learning and action towards conserving the threatened ecosystems.
As a follow-up of the visit, the group of students from each school, will be expected to report on their ‘own forests’. This information could be developed in several forms - a written report, document, story, pictures, photo stories, amateur videos, one act plays, songs by school bands,petitions to local decission-makers or even ‘models’ that students could develop citing forests as the lifegivers to their city.This information will be uploaded on the campaign's website, www.citiesforforests.in. This will also be open to individuals, other schools and colleges.
In culmination of Phase I, events will be organized in some of the participating cities over a period of one week. Participating schools from each city will collectively present their findings to key decision making audience, for instance presenting a petition to local political leaders, local governments, civil authorities and industries in the region. The aim of this exercise is to exert youth pressure for change and build their democratic competence.
To continue engaging with the students and raise awareness about urban forests amongst students of other schools, the participating students can present their findings in special assemblies organized in various schools. This will ensure reaching out to other schools, and encouraging their students to take on such activities in the future as well.
In the closing phase, state offices will be encouraged to organise events, activities, and mobilisation drives in the designated week, preferably the World Wildlife Week, to raise awareness across the city, draw attention of key decision makers, and involve experts and advisors to the government and the local politicians in their areas.
- Environmental organisations based in India
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