Approaches;How is it possible for a natural reserve to coexist with the suburbs of a megacity having a population of 16
The Sanjay Gandhi Park is evidently much smaller in
size than the Mata Atlantica Reserve: it presents nonetheless the same
problems as the latter, but on a smaller scale; although the scales may
be different, the processes and reasons are quite comparable, if not
similar. We will simultaneously adopt two approaches, but avoid
considering them as antagonistic.
The social approach
Can the concerns of the green civil society, which
stems from the middle and often upper classes, be compatible with those
of the brown/red civil society which is more concerned with social
issues? Can environment be ignored to satisfy housing needs? In Mumbai,
neither the Film City in the south-east nor the restaurants and pretty
villas to the north of the park seem to be officially considered as
encroachments. Are there two different standards for judging the
powerful and the poor? The same question can be asked about the Sao
Paolo Biosphere Reserve.
The ecological approach
How is it possible for a natural reserve to coexist
with the suburbs of a megacity having a population of 16 to 18
millions? Biodiversity is a resource for the inhabitants (firewood),
but it is also a danger (every year several persons are killed by
leopards on the outskirts of Mumbai). Similarly, the proximity of the
city can be an asset for the conservation of biodiversity (the
advantages of maintaining this resource from the environmental
viewpoint as well as for water supply and a space for relaxation), but
it also represents a threat. Certainly, there is a tendency today not
to oppose the conservation of biodiversity to upholding the rights of
use and to opening up reserves under the guise of participation of the
local population (called Joint Forest Management in India). Are such
approaches suitable for peri-urban forests where uses and stakes are
very different from rural forests?
It is obvious how the two approaches, social and
ecological, are closely interrelated in actual practice. A part of the
tragedies both human and environmental from which the regions under
study suffer, stem from our inability to tackle these issues
simultaneously at the meeting-point of nature and society.
the sectors of study: we will select sectors that seemingly present the
most contradictory uses, namely sectors occupied by illegal
of aerial photographs and satellite imagery for demarcating sectors and
monitoring changes caused by urban expansion into forest areas.
of data: first-hand and second-hand statistics from residents,
institutions in charge and non-governmental actors. The research will
be both qualitative and quantitative, making use of closed
questionnaires as well as open interviews.
of data and assessment of the impact of policies related to
environmental conservation as compared to the needs of people living in
these sectors (scientific interaction reinforced by SLUM Team).