Ecology is Permanent Economy

February 13, 2015 / Manasi Anand & Kavitha Kannan

Sunderlal Bahugana and Panduranga Hegde, the pioneers of Chipko and Appiko movements respectively,  gave their support to Neralu by hugging trees and showing their love for trees and nature. This is a call for Bangaloreans to come out and hug trees for Neralu.

Appiko Chipko
Panduranga Hegde and Sundarlal Bahuguna hugging a tree. For Neralu, Panduranga Hegde said “Trees in cities are the only living machines that produce oxygen. Please conserve these wonderful gifts of nature. I am in solidarity with your efforts to save the trees in Bangalore.”

Let’s go back into the past to see what these amazing people have done. The use of wood for commercial purposes started during the colonial period. Wood was used for building railway tracks, for fuel and for housing materials. After Independence, the colonization of trees continued where they were treated as material objects. Many local communities depend on the forest for their subsistence and livelihoods. The collection of non-timber forest produce (NTFP) from the forest served as a monetized economy for many of these communities. However these sacred forests fell into the hands of the government, private contractors and middle men. The felling of trees for timber was rampant.

Activism is a platform for these local communities to protect their cultural practices and livelihood. People’s movements such as the Chipko and Appiko were revolutionary and everyone fought with relentless passion for nature and their rights. Sunderlal Bahugana and Panduranga Hegde were the frontiers in these movements and managed to bring a change in the mindset of how nature is construed. Changes were brought out at the judiciary level such as the fifteen year ban on the felling of trees. Also, another ban on the felling of trees above 1500 m was implemented.

Panduranga Hegde with Chhatar Singh, a veteran activist saving the trees and grasslands in Thar Desert

Through them, we are inspired to love, nurture and show compassion for nature. Their concept of nurturing trees is simple – just hug them! Nestle your head on the bark and listen to the faint hymn it whispers. Look up at the canopy and observe the shades of hue. Feel the texture of the bark and smell the wave of earthiness from the soil. It is ardently beautiful.

Bangalore has lost 66% of its green cover in 40 years. What was once a beautiful paradise for the people is now a concrete jungle. We need to understand that nature is giving us far more than what we deserve. Most importantly, protecting nature is not charity work. It should be incorporated into our daily lives. By protecting nature, we are saving ourselves. Like Bahugana said, “Ecology is permanent Economy!”