Summer Internship at IORA Ecological Solutions – Ankita Sardana from Indian Institute of Forest Management

Ankita Sardana interned at IORA Ecological Solutions Pvt Ltd and shares her enthralling experience of working for a forestry. Ankita is an MBA student at Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM). Read her interesting story to find what all she had experienced.

Internship for me was the chance to taste the real world before I finally have it on my platter after one more year at IIFM. It was a learning experience that would help me finalize my choice of carrier path. My desire for getting internship in an environment related field based work landed me up with IORA Ecological Solutions Pvt. Ltd., an organization started up by alumni of my own institute. My project was “Assessment of the drivers of deforestation and degradation of Forests in Hoshangabad District, MP for the development of a REDD+ Project”.

Working on a field based project on forestry meant having talks with the forest department officials and various other government offices for data collection. This was a good learning experience to know how work is done in bureaucratic organizations. Doing literature review, collecting existing data, preparing questionnaire was all just to gear up for the field work, the real test and most learning phase of the internship.

Freedom given by the organization helped me plan my field study on my own, though doing so was itself a tedious task because the knowledge about area was limited. The initial plans got changed repeatedly due to the ever changing conditions at the field. The officials from the forest department be it forest guard, forester, DFO Hoshangabad, CCF Hoshangabad or other office or field staff helped at each step. Their guidance, care and support along with their insight about forest related issues not only helped me in planning and conducting the study but also changed my perspective about the government departments. People work in government forest department not just to have a respectable government job or a safe and secure future but because they care about the forests and more importantly because they want to bring a change. The knowledge of the environmental issues faced globally is well known not just by the field staff but also by the common person living in the remotest of locations of the country where electricity is still a dream.

People living in or near forest are perceived to be damaging the forest the most. Their dependence on forest for livelihood, fuel and grazing of their livestock is perceived as the biggest driver of deforestation and degradation. Their demand is indeed huge because these people living in the far off places do not have easy access to other resources and they depend on the forest for all their needs. Sitting in an Air conditioned room far off from the world of those people I could have also thought that the growing needs of the locals are the most dangerous for our forests. But then staying with them I realized that it is not they but us who are more responsible. They use forest for their need but we do it for our greed. They have been doing so since time immemorial but we today have grown up from our needs towards having a lavish life. We want the best of teak from the forest to decor our house but that poor person living in the forest can’t cut it for even making his house. The demand for fuel wood is increasing and trees are illegally being cut down by the locals but do they have any other option? We say bio gas is the best alternative and blame government for not implementing it successfully and the government blame the locals for not following their advise but has any one asked why that poor fellow prefers to carry a 40 Kg bundle of fuel wood for 30 Km daily than to just do 30 min work to put in work the bio gas plant? The reason is simple, because he does not have so much of dung because the livestock goes in forest to graze and is there for most part of the day. ‘Illegal felling should be stopped! The forest department is not efficient in stopping these crimes!’. I had often heard this statement. But people saying such things do not know the conditions the forest staff works in. How difficult it is to patrol the assigned area of forest at night with wild animals just next to you! These small lessons were very important, because they made me realize that sitting in air conditioned office and making policies for the betterment of people and preserving the environment won’t be of help if I do not know what the ground reality is.

Apart from all these lessons, what made the internship a memorable experience was the forest, the life there, seeing a black buck crossing the road, king cobra in the jungle, going to a distant tribal village after crossing a river on bike. Facing every day with a new challenge, meeting new people every day, seeing the beauty of nature, the harsh reality of poverty still existing in our free country. This is just a small part of the long list of things that were part of my life for each day in those two months. The feeling those moments arose in me can never be described into words but will remain inside me throughout my life as my first experience of the real world.

This internship has given me one more reason (far more bigger than my childhood dream) to work in this sector for the human welfare and environment conservation and bring change in the life of people. It is not the bitter truth that has provoked me but the hope I saw in the eyes of the people I interacted with.

Editor’s note- Have you got an internship story to share? A chance to win cool Internshala T and other cash prizes by sharing your internship story here.

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