The Meghalaya Environment Week 2022 which is part of the World Environment Day celebration kicked off on 1st June 2022, with the launch of a Seed Ball Initiative at Harding Theological College, Tura and joined by hundreds of students from across all blocks of the state who took part in Seed Ball broadcasting at their respective blocks. This is the first activity of a series of events to be held between the 1st and the 7th of June 2022, being organized collaboratively by a number of departments and agencies including the Centre of Excellence for Natural Resource Management and sustainable Livelihoods, Meghalaya Basin Management Agency, Soil and Water Conservation Department, Forest and Environment Department, Community and Rural Development Department, State Rural Employment Society, State Council of Science, Technology and Environment, and Agriculture department. This first day is being celebrated as Environment Technology Day, and showcased potential technologies that can aide in natural resource management in the state.
During the event, James Sangma, the Minister of Forests and Environment Department, who was the Chief Guest, stated that the week-long event is to promote awareness about the issues of the environment and the various interventions that can cope with them. The future of the environment rests in the hands of the youths and students, and hence, the government is encouraging their participation in the seed ball distribution/dispersal at their respective schools, home gardens, forests, etc.
He informed that seed ball broadcasting is a low-cost method of enhancing green cover in the State in a widespread manner. It is an efficient way of seed dispersal, and the rate of germination is as high as 70%, which is comparable to conventional plantation methods.
The exercise can be done either by throwing or by using catapults for dispersing from a distance. Furthermore, in inaccessible terrains, drones will be used to disperse the seeds. Sangma added that he is pleased to learn that the Meghalaya Basin Management Agency (MBMA) has developed these drones in-house and is eager to witness the demonstration of this technology.
Further, the CoE is also carrying out an extensive exercise to map the Natural Resource Management (NRM) boundaries of all 6000+ villages in Meghalaya through GPS technology given there is no cadastral survey in the State and its need when implementing various NRM-related interventions. The GIS lab of MBMA has undertaken the exercise of capturing the boundaries of the villages with the help of the local communities and Village Community Facilitators (VCFs). These VCFs are trained by MBMA to facilitate communityled-NRM planning and implementation on the field and are skilled in capturing village boundaries using GPS and Google Earth images.
Sangma stated that employing the services of the VCFs – from training them to carrying out this survey is very laudable and is part of the government’s initiatives to enhance the skills of the youths of both rural and urban Meghalaya. He added that this can supplement the work of other relevant departments mandated on NRM planning and implementation.
Over 400 students and 100 Village NRM Committee members were present to participate in the celebrations at Harding Theological College. Also present were officials and representatives from various departments including Soil and Water Conservation, Forests and Environment, Education, Agriculture, and Horticulture.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) created World Environment Day (WED) in 1973, terming it “a global platform for inspiring positive change.” And since 1974, June 5th has become a worldwide event to promote awareness of pressing environmental issues, encourage transformative action, and set annual reminders about the need to conserve and protect nature. 2022 marks the 50th year since the Stockholm Conference in 1972 that led to the creation of World Environment Day. This year, the host country is Sweden, and the theme is “Only One Earth”, a campaign to promote urgent action against the climate change crisis