Member Profile

Balipara Foundation

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The Rural Futures Dream

Launched in 2007, the Balipara Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to reconciling community and biodiversity needs through its proprietary concept Naturenomics™ (Nature + Economics). Through its Rural Futures vision for habitat-mediated livelihoods for communities, the Balipara Foundation works towards restoring habitats across the Eastern Himalayan region. Though based out of the Indian state of Assam, the Balipara Foundation works across the region and is dedicated to facilitating transboundary action across the Eastern Himalaya.

The Eastern Himalayan region consist of several unique ecoregions within the Himalayan & Indo-Myanmar biodiversity hotspot, stretching from Nepal in the east to Myanmar and China in the west, and is home to 12,000 endemic plant and animal species. However, the region is facing rapidly shrinking habitats, with forests shrinking at approximately 20% a year, in part the result of rising industrialization and in part, the result of accelerate extreme weather events and desertification. The ensuing biodiversity loss is threatening the survival of ecosystems, lowering resilience across forest-fringe community livelihoods and habitats.

50% by 2050

Why 2020?

We can stop the sixth mass extinction if we protect approximately 50% of the 846 ecoregions that provide habitat for all of Earth's biodiversity. That means finding leaders and organizations around the world willing to align exisiting efforts around protecting and interconnecting nature in the region.

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Threats to the Eastern Himalayan region

  1. A rise in human elephant conflict in Assam and Bhutan as a result of the confinement of Asian Elephant populations to small isolated patches surrounded by human settlements and/or agricultural land, from their once contiguous distribution with Elephant populations of Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar & Nepal
  2. Climate change induced vulnerabilities which disrupt local ecosystems, species distribution and lead to an overall increase in glacial melt (destabilizing glacial lakes) in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nepal and Bangladesh – with Nepal and Bangladesh being especially vulnerable to climate change risks
  3. Expanding hydropower projects and infrastructure development in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, destroying fragile ecosystems and critical habitats for unique endemic species
  4. Shortening jhum periods, expansion of jhumland and pressures to convert to cash crops (e.g. oil palm, sugarcane etc) in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram
  5. Expansion of mining, particularly of coal and oil, in Meghalaya and Nagaland, with threats to forest land traditionally owned by communities
  6. Wildlife poaching, particularly of red pandas, in Nepal and Bhutan; rhinos in Assam

Building the Naturenomics Civilization

Our passion for Rural Futures is to extend its principles of ecology and economy in interdependence across Assam to the Eastern Himalayas and beyond, to build the Naturenomics Civilization: a future with self-sufficient, self-reliant autonomous networked forest-fringe communities with sustainable livelihoods & businesses based on regenerative habitat management.

A future with natural capital-based system for communities to independently deliver equitable access to universal basic assets.

Putting communities front and centre as the stewards of conservation, the Rural Futures programme has partnered with communities and local organizations in Assam to restore over 1000 hectares of forest with plans for 10,000 hectares and beyond.

Photo credits – Ritvik Sharma

Sustainable Livelihoods through Habitat Restoration

The Balipara Foundation launched its first habitat restoration programme in 2016 with the explicit aim of making indigenous communities the stewards of their natural inheritance. Through capacity building and pilot programmes, the Balipara Foundation partners with local community institutions such as Joint Forest Management Committees to create community incomes by restoring degraded forest habitats & enhance natural assets. With incomes pegged to healthy habitats, communities are incentivized to continue restoring habitats to earn, building sustainable local economies and easing pressures on forest habitats.

Biodiversity & Indigenous Knowledge Research

The Balipara Foundation inculcates a strong ethos of evidence-driven action, seeking to build its firsthand knowledge base in field sites before launching interventions in partnerships with communities. Research has long played a key role in developing this ethos, and forms a critical part of our operations by expanding our knowledge base and enriching our perspectives. Since 2016, our research has focused on documenting the rich biodiversity of the Eastern Himalayan region through scientific assessments, as well as working alongside indigenous communities to document and preserve their traditional ecological knowledge, in addition to further identifying species and their uses.

The Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics Forum

Understanding the need for exploring the ingredients of success in conservation and sustainable livelihoods, the Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics™ Forum is a series of conferences geared towards creating an interdisciplinary platform for exploring grassroots, actionable solutions to build Rural Futures in the Eastern Himalayan region. The platform brings together communities, businesses, conservationists, the social sector and academia to foster knowledge sharing, for future collaborative efforts on community-led conservation at a pan-regional and state level.

Take Action

The coming decade will be a decisive one for the future of the Eastern Himalayan region, as the region faces down melting glaciers, fragmenting habitats and escalating human-wildlife conflict. The Balipara Foundation, along with its partner communities, is on this frontline, restoring habitats for a resilient future in this fragile biodiversity hotspot. Join us in transforming communities and biodiversity today.

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