AERF is running multiple initiatives towards conserving forests and mitigating climate change while building sustainable communities.
Giant Tree Conservation - Large trees play a critical role in provisioning of economically important and climate regulating ecosystem services such as water, non-timber forest produce and carbon to millions of people in tropical countries of the world. In absence of clear conservation policy and poor understanding of their importance in supporting sustainable societies, these trees are facing imminent threat. The project will take measures to avoid indiscriminate felling of 1000 large trees in the Western Ghats of India. This project is hosted on the Global Giving platform and has received 5 badges of recognition from Global Giving. We have so far reached around 40% of our target and require more funding to complete our target of conserving 1000 trees.
Conservation Agreements - To curb the rampant deforestation in the unprotected forests of the Northern Western Ghats by channeling funds towards conservation agreements with the private forest land owners and for building sustainable forest-based enterprises in partnership with them to ensure that the invaluable forests are not resorted to being a logging farm in times of financial need.
Biostove Distribution - Satisfying the energy and livelihood needs of forest dependent communities in an environmentally sustainable manner is the single biggest challenge while promoting conservation of forests and biodiversity. In India today, the primary source of energy for 83% of rural households is wood fuel. AERF has developed energy efficient bio-mass gasifier stoves which run on easily available and affordable fuel. More than 1200 forest dependent families from Raigad and Ratnagiri district have benefitted from using the MyForest bio-stove.
Sustainable fuels- Bio-fuels are considered as scalable climate change mitigation alternative worldwide. AERF conducted resource assessments of selected native oil seed bearing species, demarcated areas on the GIS based maps, studied the feasibility of the enterprise based on resources. AERF now works closely with communities to build awareness about the potential of oil production and setup decentralized bio fuel production centres. AERF has two sustainable denaturalized bio fuel centres at Alibag in Raigad district and at Shahapur in Thane district of Maharashtra.
Ecological restoration of forest groves - Sacred Groves are relic forest patches traditionally protected by communities in reverence of a deity. Sacred Groves form important repositories of forest biodiversity and provide refuge to many plant and animal species of conservation significance. India has well over 13,000 documented Sacred Groves. Recently with the advent of modernisation and urbanisation, the tradition of maintaining a forest in the name of deity is threatened. A core component of this programme is to manage and restore degraded sacred groves with the active and voluntary participation of local communities. AERF has used many micro strategies to protect and manage the sacred groves. These include designing and developing various community based programmes to revive community interest in conservation and giving knowledge and training regarding the ecology of these groves. AERF Director Dr. Archana Godbole received Whitley associate Award in 2007 for long term work of mainstreaming sacred groves conservation . Through this first programme , a process of revival and restoration of sacred groves is being done in more than 100 villages from North Western Ghats.