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Prof Madhu Verma

 

Dr. Madhu Verma is the Professor & Chairperson in the Faculty of Environment & Developmental Economics, and the Coordinator of the Centre for Ecological Services Management in the Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal, India. 

 

What drives you to work for forests and land use issues
Being in the Institute of Forest Management and having exposure to forests of many countries especially in the developing world, I find that there is massive dependence of people on forests which are being used by them for variety of ecosystem services. This stirred me to demonstrate use values by using the tools of economic valuation, green accounting and payment of ecosystem services and inculcate an appreciation amongst all set of stakeholders such that they realise the rationale for investing in forest capital to get benefits from it in perpetuity. I demonstrated this through various works I have done for the sector in terms of estimating the Net Present Value of Forest Diversion in India; making a case of conservation finance for the 13th and 14th Finance commission of India.

 

Why are forests important to you from your perspective as a woman

In developing countries like India, Sri Lanka and Nepal where women play a significant role in forest management and are also dependent on forests for a variety of needs, its essential to reinforce the gender budgeting process where budget allocation should not be a fixed percentage, but be based on requirements. We have very relevant examples of Bishnoi movement in India in which 363 Bishnois, died protecting their dear trees. The Bishnois sacrifices became an inspiration for the much larger Chipko movement in India, in which villagers – especially women – physically embrace trees to save them from contractors. I think women contribute greatly to conserving forest and increasing forest cover, thus they have a claim to receive REDD+ benefits.

 

How can we ensure that there is more participation and leadership taken by women in forests and land use issues?

I think despite the huge contribution made by women both at the ground level and in management, women's efforts have not been duly recognised and rewarded. Though women's names are included on paper for various roles in many participatory committees for forest management, in reality, decisions are often governed by men.

Similarly, at higher decision-making positions of leading academic and research Institutes, and at Ministry level, women have a minuscule role to play. Since the stake of women is high, women leaders can accomplish their responsibilities in a far superior way in the forestry sector too.

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