Nature Connect India (NCI) is a conservation enterprise established by founders of Applied Environmental Research Foundation (AERF) - a conservation non-profit engaged in participatory biodiversity management in the Western Ghats, India, in collaboration with a veteran industrialist. Sole purpose of NCI is to build a replicable and scalable business model for sustainable use of biodiversity and forests creating a win-win situation for communities and ecosystems. This model when scaled up will address the perception gap about forests that has hindered long term private investment in forests and biodiversity conservation.
We all know that deforestation contributes to climate change through carbon emissions in equal proportion as the entire transport sector globally. However, voluntary carbon market has seldom saved forests in global biodiversity hotspots due to very low carbon prices. Thus an alternative revenue mechanism needs to be put in place so that standing forests will be able to deliver robust economic outcomes.
In the Northern Western Ghats – a global biodiversity hotspot, local communities are allowing large tracts of biodiversity - rich forests to be logged due to absence of attractive revenue mechanism. This is resulting in depletion of ecosystem service delivery, loss of biodiversity, drop in productivity of horticulture crops, sudden variation in climatic conditions and natural disasters such as landslides.
Part of the Western Ghats - a global biodiversity hotspot, home to 332 globally threatened species and thousands of unique species (CEPF 2008)
The forests of Western Ghats are representatives of non-equatorial evergreen forests in the world
For avoiding irreversible damage to nature in the hotspot, it is imperative and critical that we are able to make forest conservation socially acceptable, economically attractive and ecologically sustainable. Over the last 6 years, NCI is engaged in setting up truly inclusive, transparent and biodiversity- friendly forest-based value chains in the Western Ghats of India. NCI has invested substantial resources in building capacity of primary stakeholders (resource owners) in sustainable biodiversity use, certification and enterprise development and operation.
NCI did not just make an isolated effort at demonstration scale while building the value chains but became India’s first FAIRWILD certified operator. NCI is certified for two value chains at two separate locations thus creating impact for conservation and livelihoods at landscape level. The value chains – husk of Terminalia bellirica and Terminalia chebula fruits are used in herbal teas made by Pukka Herbs, UK. In the process, NCI also became independent exporter of certified and processed plant materials in 2017-2018 with two successful pilot shipments to Europe. With long term purchase contracts signed with Pukka Herbs and other prospective international buyers, NCI is all set for scaling up its operations at existing locations and expanding its geographic spread across India. NCI is looking forward to establishing and promoting its brand MY FOREST for existing as well as new forest-based value chains.
Hasit is the Operations Manager at Nature Connect. He is a Chemical Engineer by training and has over 5 years of experience in development and strengthening of forest-based supply chains. He demonstrates remarkable expertise in project finance and international certifications.
Siddharth holds a Ph.D in Strategy and Organizational Development from the National University of Singapore along with a Management degree in Business Administration from SP Jain Institute for Management Research, Mumbai. Siddharth is associated with NCI since 2008.
Christiano holds a Ph.D. in Biochemical engineering from Minnesota University, USA. He has proven expertise in research and development of natural products and bio-materials for green economy. Christiano is associated with NCI since 2013.