Press release

13 May 2015

Himal Kala Sutra Birdwatching Programme concludes in Munsiari, Uttarakhand

The birdwatching and bird guide training programme of the ‘Himal Kala Sutra’ festival concluded at Sarmoli, Munsiari, after three days (11-13th May) of intense training on bird identification, observation of bird behavior, presentations and discussion on birdwatching and conservation, and other activities.

JungleeSchoolkidsbirdingatHimalKalaSutraThe programme is part of a seven-day festival that also includes cultural activities including art, photography, stories that get expressed through creative writing, movement and drama. It is being organized by the communities of Sarmoli and Shankhdhura, Mesar Forest Fair, Himal Prakriti, Himalayan Ark, Jungli School, Maati, and Kalpavriksh (Pune/ Delhi). The event has been supported financially by WWF-India, Himalaya Education Foundation, BD Uniyal Trust, DST Delhi,and materially by the Uttarakhand Forest Department.

A total of about 70 people took part in the birdwatching programme. This included residents of villages of Munsiari area (Sarmoli, Naya Basti, Shankhdhura) and Askot Sanctuary area (Khartoli, Shiling), students of Himalayan Intercollege Chaukori and Junglee School Munsiari, staff of Forest Department, and enthusiasts from several other parts of India.

They were able to spot or hear about 85 species of birds, out of a total checklist of 327 species that are found in the Gori Basin of which Munsiari is a part. This was a marked improvement over last year’s sighting of about 70 species at the 2014 Himal Kala Sutra festival. Amongst the interesting species seen were: Pied thrush (globally vulnerable), White-tailed robin, Blackwinged cuckoo-shrike, Besra sparrowhawk, Kalij pheasant, Crested serpent eagle, Mountain hawk eagle, four species each of cuckoos andwoodpeckers. 

The Gori valley has almost half the birds species found in the entire state of Uttarakhand (327 out of over 690 species). Since 2013, the local communities in Munsiari have grown in their knowledge and interest in birds and have been joined in this journey byseveral state and national-level organisations, keen birders, researchers and friends. The local villagers including guides have also attended both the Uttarakhand Birding Festivals organized by the Forest Department at Asan in 2014 and Pawalgarh in February 2015. Through this they are building the capacity to host more nature-based tourism and make the Gori Valley a major birding destination of Uttarakhand.

For the occasion, a number of publications and products have been made, including an updated ‘Birds of Munsiari Checklist’, Birds of Munsiari Posters and post cards, and Bird Songs and Stories. The Forest Department also provided material for distribution such as the Checklist of Uttarakhand’s Birds, and a guide to key birding destinations in the state. Sessions were also held on outdoor observation and a 'scavenger hunt' teaching children and young people to look for biodiversity in the forest.

At the concluding function today, the above organisations were joined by students and faculty of Panchachuli Public School (Madkot), Grow Fast Academy (Bangapani), and the heads of Rachnatmak Shikshak Mandal and the Government Girls Intercollege (Namjala, Munsiari). This provided also the occasion to have a discussion on strategies to increase locally relevant, conservation and culture-based learning opportunities in the region’s schools and colleges. A number of suggestions came up including production of a handbook on Uttarakhand’s biodiversity and cultural diversity, involving village-based experts in traditional knowledge in teaching students, building more environment and related issues into the curriculum, and encouraging local languages and knowledge.

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 9411194041, 

Press release

17 May 2015

The week long Nature, Culture and Bird Watching  and bird guide training programme of the ‘Himal Kala Sutra’ festival concluded  with the 9th Annual Mesar Van Koutik , or Mesar Forest Fair in Sarmoli, Munsiari, (11-17th May)

The annual Mesar Forest Fair celebrates the deep connection and dependence of people and their natural surroundings.. Begun in 2007 as a celebration of protection, regeneration and rejuvenation of the forests of Sarmoli, the Forest Fair is a culmination of the seven-day Himal Kalasutra festival that  includes cultural activities including art, photography, stories that get expressed through creative writing, movement and drama. It is being organized by the communities of Sarmoli and Shankhdhura, Mesar Forest Fair, Himal Prakriti, Himalayan Ark, Jungli School, Maati, and Kalpavriksh (Pune/ Delhi). The event has been supported financially by WWF-India, Himalaya Education Foundation, BD Uniyal Trust, DST Delhi, and materially by the Uttarakhand Forest Department and many individuals

A total of about 500 people  attended the fair. This included residents from the villages of of villages of Munsiari area (Sarmoli, Naya Basti, Shankhdhura, Nanasem, Tiksain, Ghorpatta) and Askot Sanctuary area (Khartoli, Shiling, Umargada), from the Madkot area (Waiga) as well as visitors to the village and tourists from other hotels and resorts.

Uttarakhand Nature Handbooks, Checklist of Birds of Uttarakhand  and Tourism Maps were distributed to participants of Himal Kalasutra, these were provided by the Uttarakhand Forest Department.

Awards

1. Lok Prakriti Puraskars to Shri Harish Singh Nikhurpa (posthumous) a retired defence service person who on return from duty engaged deeply with the community and any common / volunteer work. He was deeply committed to helping his fellow people and was contributed to the up of Sarmoli's Community Nature Tourism Enterprise,

Shri Shyam Dutt Joshi,  who has been deeply committed to the care and governance of the village common forests and was an active Van Panchayat Committee member for many years.

2. Lok Kala Puraskar to Shri Nain Ram, age 55,  of Jainti village, was awarded the First Lok Kala Puraskar – an initiative to recognize and award traditional arts and crafts. He was presented the award for is long work in ringaal crafts, across many villages of the region. The ringaal crafts are a dying art mainly because of lack of interest in the craft as well as lack of availability of suitable ringaal bamboo.

The Block Pramukh of Munsiari Block , Shri Narender Singh Rawat, presented the award to Shri Nain Ram,

The Block pramukh has proposed to organize a special ringaal crafts training with Shri nain Ram as the lead trainer craftsperson and also to support future Mesar Forest fairs.

The fair included an extensive exhibition of the natural history and culture of the Munsiari area.

Runners for Life , organized a 3 day long distance running training camp–with warm up and cool down exercises as well as short runs everyday. The 20 participants were presented with sports gear,  to encourage them to take up running as a  sport and for good health. Arvind Bharathi of Runners for life said that he was very impressed with the talent and energy shown by the young participants and felt that it was something that needed encouragement and support.

HimalKalaSutrabirdingparticipantsArtist troupes, including women groups from Sela, Nanasem, Shilling, Umargada , Sarmoli, Shankhdhura,  Daranti, Sela, Shilling, Waiga.

performed traditional songs and dance, bagpipes and drumming

A live demonstration  and a slide and movie show on the 2000 kilometer Nadisutra river kayaking expedition on the Kali-Sharda-Ghaghra-Ganga was screened.

Various agencies, groups and individuals set up stalls to demonstrate their work and make available some crafts, art work and food produce.

There were demonstrations of innovative fuel saving wood chulha's, solar device, and on bee keeping

The Forest Department put up a display, with some publications and also promoted planting of forest saplings by making them available on request during the planting season.

 Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 9411194041, www.munsiari.com, www.himalprakriti.org