How a wasteland was revived into a forest, only to be sold for wind mills under ‘clean development mechanism’

T. V. Padma

T. V. Padma
South Asia regional coordinator, SciDev.Net

I mentioned how REDD+, the mechanism under UN climate convention to halt deforestation and degradation, is seen as impacting local forest communities’ rights over biological resources. Here is another example, this time from India, on how a forest revived through painstaking efforts by local communities is ending up paving the way for wind mills under clean development mechanism, without the local communities involvement. So now it is a case of ‘green versus clean development mechanism’, highlighted in a study by Leena Gupta, senior scientist at the Society for Promotion of Wastelands and circulated at COP-11..

The revived Kalpavilli forest is giving way to wind mills. Photo credit: Timbaktu Collective

The area in question is right here in Andhra Pradesh state, whose capital Hyderabad is hosting COP-11. Around 1993, Timbaktu Collective introduced organic farming in a barren wasteland comprising several villages around Kalpavalli, in Ananthapur district, planted indigenous species and tried to revive the original forest area. The collective also bought some land to set up a school and a weaving unit, and market organically grown cereals.

In a parallel track, the collective planted indigenous species, restored the water bodies, conserved soil moisture and developed nurseries for local plants. And now you have a revived forest with plants, animals, large number of migratory  birds.

So far, so good.  Some years ago, a private company specialising in wind energy began talks with the Andhra Pradesh state government to set up 48 windmills, after studies showed that the area had high potential for wind energy.  Since obsolete revenue records showed the area as ‘wasteland’, permission was given. Local village administrative bodies (‘panchayats’ in India) were not consulted.

The windmills had to be built on top of a hill that had to flattened first. Then  roads had to be built for trucks to carry the equipment needed to set up wind mills. Mountains had to be cut , and some aquifers, to build the roads for the trucks.

Not only were fields polluted and drying, but cattle could no longer move and graze on the cut mountains.

Meanwhile, wind energy generation continues – and it is up to you to decide what matters more – clean wind energy or restoring a forest, both backed by science.

And some of these debates of climate changes mechanisms vis-a-vis biodiversity concerns are continuing at COP-11.

This blog post is part of our coverage on COP 11 Convention on Biological Diversity — which takes place 8–19 October 2012. 

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