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Balipara Foundation Awards to visionaries of Eastern Himalayas

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Dec 7 - After the four-day virtual edition of the 8th Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics Forum 2020, its host Balipara Foundation presented the 8th edition of the Balipara Foundation Awards on Saturday evening.

The virtual event began with words of encouragement from actor Adil Hussain who meditated on the beauty of the region�s natural heritage and the dedication of the earth heroes who work tirelessly to preserve it.

The 8th Rabindranath Barthakur Memorial Lecture was delivered by renowned historian and author Rudrangshu Mukherjee, who stressed the need for re-recognising how integral ecology was to economy.

�You cannot completely ignore Nature and destroy Nature. There has to be a balance of some kind between development and the sustenance of Nature. This has now become a movement, a campaign, on how we strike this balance and the steps we take to maintain this balance,� he said.

This year, the Balipara Foundation launched two lifetime service awards celebrating national and international achievements. The international award was given to Tin Tin Saw from Myanmar, a woman who started community forestry in her village to stop illegal logging and mining for construction. The national Lifetime Service Award went to Dr Parimal Chandra Bhattacharjee, a retired professor of Gauhati University. He pioneered many wetland studies, primatology and biodiversity studies across the North East, becoming a mentor to many leading figures in conservation in the North East today.

This year�s Annual Balipara Foundation Award jointly went to Trinity Saioo of Meghalaya and Association for Environmental Preservation, Mizoram, for work in organic farming and conservation action for wildlife respectively. From a modest start in 2003 with 25 other farmer women, Saioo�s SHG farmer collective has now grown to around 800 women farmers in Meghalaya, all of whom farm organically and cultivate lakadong turmeric.

The Naturenomics TM Award also jointly went to Seno Tsuhah of Nagaland, who works closely with community conservation and gender justice, and Jorjo Tana Tara of Seijosa, Arunachal Pradesh, who tirelessly defends the forests of Arunachal Pradesh.

The Eastern Himalayan Conservation Award went to Sangti Wanmai Konyak, a social worker, conservationist and a filmmaker whose negotiations with the Nagaland government were critical in getting a law banning hunting between April and September passed in the surrounding areas as well. This was followed by the Green Guru Award to Nosang Limboo from Sikkim, who champions the cause of butterflies through his photography and writing, and the Akshar Foundation, whose model of �meta-teaching� has been recognised by the UN.

The Food for the Future Award was given to Parimal Das of Tripura for organic dragon fruit plantation, whose fascination with the fruit pushed him to try and grow them in India, in the heart of Tripura, with amazing results.

The Nature Conservancy Award went to Arannayk Foundation, Bangladesh: Habitat Restoration, Climate Mitigation & Natural Resource Management.

The Forest Rangers and Guards Award was given to Gyem Tshewang of Bhutan, a dedicated forester who coordinates with all tiger research and conservation work in the field in Bhutan.

The Indigenous Leadership Award went to Kamison Milli of Baligaon village in Assam, an exceptional community leader, who has mobilised the people of Baligaon to understand the important connection between ecology and economy.

The Balipara Foundation Awards launched a new special award, the Latifur Rahman Award, memorialising one of the leading figureheads behind ethical businesses in Bangladesh, the late Latifur Rahman.

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