Oil palm expansion in forest and traditional agricultural lands, Mizoram

The march of the triffids

“In temperate countries, where man had succeeded in putting most forms of nature save his own under a reasonable degree of restraint, the status of the triffid was thus made quite clear. But in the tropics, particularly in the dense forest areas, they quickly became a scourge.” —John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids In […]

Why Mizoram must revive, not eradicate, jhum

There is something extraordinary about the cheraw (bamboo dance) performed during Chapchar Kut. The dance is unique, elegant, and spectacular, but it carries a deeper connection to the land and lives of the people, particularly to the remarkable practice of shifting agriculture (or jhum) which subtly encapsulates the dance of the bamboos themselves on the […]

Blowin’ in the wind – II

Cross-posted from View from Elephant Hills From a boat on Assam’s Deepor Beel—the freshwater lake lying south-west of Guwahati, the largest city in India’s northeast—you can look east past thousands of waterbirds and a carpet of floating leaves to see the city’s seething, smoking garbage dump. Under spotless blue skies, a thin brown haze blankets […]

Forest_OilPalm_MizoLow

Perils of oil palm

The Economic Survey Mizoram 2012-13 made a bold claim. After quoting the Forest Survey of India’s (FSI) State of Forest Report 2011 that 90.68% of Mizoram is under forest cover, the Economic Survey claimed, literally in bold letters in a box, that the State’s forests have suffered serious depletion and degradation due to traditional practice […]

River reverie

On the occasion of World Rivers Day, re-posting an article that appeared earlier in The Hindu Sunday Magazine. This article was based on experiences along the rivers of the Western Ghats. The rivers and streams of the Western Ghats are recognised as a globally important eco-region, and are the lifelines of Peninsular India. The river […]

The tropicbirds of memory

The arrival of the postman at our doorstep, just before noon, is always a welcome event, more so when he brings something always awaited by us: a book or a magazine, or even the rare letter. Today, he brought the latest issue of Indian Birds, volume 8 number 5 of our subscription to this excellent bird journal, which […]

Living in an extreme world

by T. R. Ramachandran and T. R. Shankar Raman (This article appeared as a lead on the edit page of The Hindu on 13 July 2013) The recent flood-related disaster in Uttarakhand was labelled a Himalayan tsunami, recalling the deaths, damage, and destruction that followed the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami of December 2004. Yet, […]

Of tamarind and tolerance

An edited and shorter version of this article appeared in The Hindu Sunday Magazine on 17 June 2012. For centuries, long rows of grand tamarind trees have marked our roadsides, particularly in southern India. The wide, old roads radiating from Coimbatore city, in particular, had long rows of grand tamarind trees on either side. One […]

The pigeon’s passengers

How the imperial pigeons play a crucial role in regenerating our rainforests.   There is a modesty in their conquest of mountains. From tall trees on high ridges, they scan the landscape, their heads turning on long and graceful necks. They have scaled peaks, even surpassed them. Yet, they speak only in soft and hushed […]