Capacity building workshop for Canopy Science Research in the South Asian region 20th and 21st of November, 2010

As a follow up of the 5th International Canopy Conference, held in 2009 at Bangalore, ATREE organised a two-day capacity building workshop that brought together scientists from South Asia to discuss the setting up of a pan-regional canopy research programme. The workshop was attended by delegates from Bhutan and Sri Lanka, representatives from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Sikkim forest departments, and forest canopy scientists from India.

The workshop aimed to further canopy science through greater cooperation and possible collaborations with government agencies to install canopy research facilities such as cranes, walkways and towers.

Day one kicked off with a set of presentations highlighting the status of canopy research in the South Asian region and India. The presentations set the stage for a lively discussion on the various possibilities for the establishment of basic infrastructure for canopy research and cross-institutional collaboration.

It was decided that a core group would be entrusted with the task of arriving at a workable model for canopy research based on existing information, and bringing out guidelines for the same within a month’s time. The lack of access to the canopies would be highlighted in presentations to funding agencies and the importance of forest canopies from a climate change and biodiversity conservation perspective would also be put forth. The need for capacity building among students in the South Asian region was identified as a key concern that needs to be addressed. Building links with Indian researchers and other SAARC countries through universities could help to address the same.

The canopy of South Asian region needed attention, highlighted Dr Raman Sukumar from Centre for Ecological Science, IISc, Bangalore. He emphasized that the canopy component could be a part of a monitoring program that is being envisioned for diverse ecosystems in India. Participants in the workshop felt that a standalone canopy program is important and mission-mode has to be adopted by state funding agencies such as Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Department of Biotechnology who should assure prolonged funding. Dr V.N. Singh, Additional CCF of the Tamil Nadu Forest Department also assured the provisioning of canopy infrastructure even for protected areas for research purpose. However, he emphasized that it would need the departments’ involvement right from the planning stage.

M.H. Swaminath, Additional PCCF, Karnataka Forest Department, highlighted that sometimes good partnership between the forest and researchers get jeopardized because of frequent transfers. Usha Lachungpa from Sikkim Forest Department invited ATREE researchers to build the capacities of North East regions’ student community to explore canopies in that region. This was followed by the screening of an award-winning canopy film, ‘Heroes of the High Frontier’ and a banquet dinner.

The following day was spent at Bannerghatta National Park, where the single rope, double rope and the RAD (Rapid ascent/decent) canopy access techniques were demonstrated and delegates had the opportunity to try these methods themselves.