Friday, March 13, 2009

Abhishek Behl's Desk

Updates from the Field -

After a long 40 days traveling between Pench, Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Panna - I had to forward my travel plans with the call of participation towards the Ecotourism Guidelines meeting held in Delhi and chaired by Ms. Sunita Narain and members from NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority). TOFT and its members participating summarized an overall priority list for the policy makers to think about various options in their guidelines. TOFT's chairman - Mr. Julian Matthews sent these select priorities out to most of all TOFT members to comment upon and we can then finalize the recommendations from TOFT once approved by all.

Following this meeting - I carried my programs to Corbett. TOFT's meeting was organized at Infinity Resorts on the 26th of February. It was a small gathering of participants and topics of our future programs were discussed. Along with the discussion - actions were targeted to various coordinators to carry out tasks. TOFT would be looking into projects with members on 'Children in the Park', 'TOFT Corbett Clean-up Initiative' and the TOFT PUG Certification process. Along with the projects, complaints of irresponsible tourism being carried out in Corbett were discussed. Lodges, which are accused of bad practice, have to give their final statements to TOFT and its members and TOFT would be closely monitoring this process and its future methods/implications.

TOFT in Corbett has recruited its first TOFT Field Officer and his job descriptions / tasks would be sent out to all members. He would be based in the field area and overseeing TOFT's existing projects and working on new initiatives with the lodge community / local community and forest department.

I have enhanced the TOFT Corbett lodge membership and we have 5 new properties that have come on TOFT Corbett Lodge members with the existing 10 properties. 3 properties have been audited this time around and would be posting their ratings on the website as and when the scientific team finalizes their overall rating.

After 23 days staying in and around Corbett area - my concerns/worries are on new mushrooming of lodges in the area. The final total lodges have reached to an outstanding number of more then 65 lodges in the area. The extraction of natural resources from the buffer areas have enhanced with no policies of enforcements in place. Recent news of poaching is on a high and will confirm this news as and when our TOFT field team gives updates.

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