Conserve nature utilising indigenous knowledge
The knowledge and experience of indigenous people should be utilised for conserving the nature, said the speakers at a roundtable yesterday.
They said indigenous people, who earn their livelihood from nature and protect it for their existence, are always neglected by the mainstream population.
The roundtable was organised by the Society for Environment and Human Development (SEHD) at Shilpakala Academy in the city.
The speakers said even medicinal plants are on the verge of extinction due to callousness of the mainstream people who are grabbing the land of indigenous people by cutting the forest.
They said no sustainable development is possible without conserving the nature.
The speakers said the Plant Varieties Protection and Farmers Rights Act 2001might threaten the biodiversity of the areas inhabitated by indigenous people.
Pavel Partha, a researcher on Ethno Botany and Biodiversity Conservation, said the draft copy of Biodiversity and Community Knowledge Protection Act 1998, which was more nature-friendly, is still getting dust in the ministry.
He urged the government to finalise the Biodiversity and Community Knowledge Protection Act 1998 in consultation with the people.
Dr Noazesh Ahmed talked on 'Destruction of Forests and Nature' leading to cultural erosion while Dwijen Sarma on 'Destruction of Species' affecting forest culture and Zakarias Dumri talked on 'One Nation Two Languages: The Case of Mahali.
“The mainstream people often cheat indigenous people across the globe. At different times the mainstream people made money by exploiting them. Stealing indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants, a vested quarter prepared allopathic drugs and did business,” said Dwijen Sarma.
“If we want sustainable development, we would have to conserve the nature and should acknowledge the knowledge of indigenous people, which they earned over the years,” he added.
Biopiracy took place mostly in Chittagong Hill Tracts, said the speakers adding that many communities, their languages, festivals and cultures are now in extinct.
“Such is the Mahali community with around 21,000 people who have no festivals now. They have lost their traditional dances and their language is now at stake, they added.
The speakers urged the governmental to recognise their mother tongue.
Prof Rafiqul Islam chaired the discussion which was also addressed by Rambhajan Koiri, Ritesh Chakma, Dayal and Philip Gain.