7th edition of ‘UP Bird and Nature Festival’ from Feb 1 at Mahoba

3-day event to promote bird watching & ecotourism in Uttar Pradesh


January 27, 2023

/ By / New Delhi

7th edition of ‘UP Bird and Nature Festival’ from Feb 1 at Mahoba

UP Forest Department to organise 7th edition of ‘UP Bird and Nature Festival’

With the objective to promote Uttar Pradesh as a destination for ecotourism and notably bird watching, besides preserving biodiversity in the state, the 7th edition of the UP Bird and Nature Festival will be held from February 1–3 at Mahoba in Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh. According to the UP Forest Department, the organiser of the event, nature and bird lovers from India and abroad are expected to attend the three-day festival at the Vijay Sagar Bird Sanctuary in Bundelkhand.

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The Uttar Pradesh Forest Department along with its eco-tourism division will be hosting the 7th edition of the ‘UP Bird and Nature Festival’, which is scheduled to be held at Vijay Sagar Bird Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region from February 1.

This was announced by Principal Chief Conservator of Forest & Head of Forest Force Mamta Dubey. She was accompanied by Manoj Singh IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, EF & CC Department UP, Sunil Chowdhary, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Uttar Pradesh, and S N Mishra, CCF Kanpur.

The 3-day long festival, which aims to inspire and accelerate nature-based ecotourism and appreciation of biodiverse-rich wildlife reserves and sanctuaries of Uttar Pradesh will be held at Vijay Sagar Bird Sanctuary in Mahoba.  The festival is also expected to be attended by national as well as international experts in the fields of birding, nature conservation, and wildlife tourism and photography, Dubey told the press at the conference.

‘‘We believe that a holistic and collaborative approach to nature-based ecotourism and cultural tourism is essential for sustainable progress as they are both undeniably co-dependent. While efforts have been ongoing to promote these circuits, we are now taking more active measures to develop an awareness of these possibilities to the world of travellers,’’ Dubey said.

Curated around the central theme of Ecotourism for Nature Conservation, the festival will comprise several activities including panel discussions on birding and eco-tourism in the state as well as  field excursions photo exhibits, book launches, and more, say the organisers. The festival is expected to attract nature lovers, birdwatchers, and wildlife enthusiasts to explore the state’s rich forests, wildlife and its diverse flora and fauna.

“We have 26 wildlife sanctuaries and one national park, four tiger reserves, and two elephant reserves in UP. It is not about increasing or decreasing the number of wildlife sanctuaries; it is about maintaining them properly. And we are maintaining very nicely. The population is increasing. The tiger census will be released soon. In our rivers, the dolphin population is increasing, and the gharial population is increasing, so we are trying to conserve and preserve our natural heritage,” Dubey told Media India Group on the occasion.

The event is expected to attract bird watchers from across India and even overseas, besides people interested in ecotourism and exploring the wealth of flora and fauna in the state, say the organisers.

“When people come from outside India or even outside UP, we are trying to give them an experience, not just a tourist spot. With the objective in mind, we have decided to work on these home stays, where we are not only promoting the wild life area but also promoting the culture of our local people. Our local community and fringe community are active partners in our ecotourism initiative because they are the ones who are instrumental in protecting the forests more than anyone else because, for city people, the forest is a romantic concept, but for those who are living on the fringes or inside the forest, it is a very real, day-to-day concept. For them a tiger moving along their village is not a novelty so we are trying to involve them in all over initiative and we are trying to promote the showcasing of our culture and the life style that the people have to attract the tourist,” Dubey emphasised.

One of the key spots for birdwatching are wetlands or various water bodies like rivers, lakes and ponds. However, all the waterbodies and especially wetlands are constantly under an existential threat, across the world and in India as well.

Wetlands are areas where water is the primary factor controlling the environment and the associated plant and animal life. Wetlands play an integral role in the ecology of the watershed. The combination of shallow water, high levels of nutrients is ideal for the development of organisms that form the base of the food web and feed many species of fish, amphibians, shellfish and insects and hence they are amongst the favourite spots for birds.

Wetlands are critical to human and planet life. More than one billion people depend on them for a living and 40% of the world’s species live and breed in wetlands. As per a global convention, the Ramsar Convention, to save wetlands, a large number of wetlands have been recognised as Ramsar sites that need to be preserved.

India has a network of 49 Ramsar sites covering an area of 1.1 million hectares, the largest in South Asia. In all, India has nearly 4.6 pc of its land as wetlands, covering an area of 15.26 million hectares.

However, encroachments have been threatening the survival of wetlands all across the country, including Uttar Pradesh. Last week, alleging encroachment, ornithologist Anand Arya moved to the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal over an “inordinate” delay in notifying the Dhanauri wetlands in Greater Noida as a Ramsar site for conservation. Dhanauri was among the 201,503 wetlands that the SC had ordered to be mapped in 2017.

However, Dubey counters Arya’s contention, saying that the state forest department had taken adequate measures to protect not only Dhanauri but also other wetlands.

“Wetlands are inside the forest, on revenue land, common land, and even on private land. Dhanauri is a wetland that, I think, is on private land, so we are trying to protect the wetland. Even if it is on private land, obviously we can do something to protect it and promote it. We can take the owner into confidence and advise on the management of these wetlands, but we cannot take it by force. It is ultimately his land as far as encroachment is concerned. As I said, we are notifying wetlands under the wetland rule. UP has a well-defined wetland rule. We also have a wetland authority, we are identifying wetland, we have created an atlas, and we are currently preparing management plans and working on management programmes for the ecological restoration of these wetlands,’’ Dubey said.



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