Welcome to the Biodiversity website of MACFAST.
The aim of this website is to all teachers, trainers, especially school students of all across the world to inspire, support, and understand about biodiversity and thus strategy different projects to get them actively participate in our nature conservation.This site specifically for primary schools for generate educational resources for the classroom as well as offering school visits. We aim to keep things simple and exciting - with games and activities of science based events.
Plants are among the oldest inhabitants of earth. Sustainable development refers to meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs which means progress in human well-being spread over many generations. The UN constituted World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) provided a major boost to conserving the world’s rich biodiversity particularly of the tropics including India. Earth, a tiny part of the universe is a home to millions of human beings, animals, plants and microbes living almost everywhere on the surface of earth. Conservation of this biodiversity is fundamental to the success of any developmental process and unless we protect the world’s natural biota, development will undermine itself and fail. The wide variety of physical features and climatic situations add to it by providing diversity of ecological habitats to survive and prosper. In India about 1, 15,000 species of plants and animals have been identified and described. About 4,900 species of flowering plants forming 33% of the recorded flora are endemic to the country which includes bananas, ginger, balsams, orchids, rattans and numerous medicine and fibre yielding plants. An understanding of their distribution, local uses, conservation, reproductive behavior value added use and marketability are all important to understand and appreciate their utilitarian value.
An understanding of their distribution, local uses, conservation, reproductive behavior value added use and marketability are all important to understand and appreciate their utilitarian value. The crop cultivation, land use practices and health care traditions of India are equally varied and invariably linked to local biodiversity patterns as more than 8000 species are used in indigenous systems of medicine.Surveys conducted so far have inventorised over 47,000 species of plants of all categories and over 89,000 species of animals over just 70% of the total area (MoEF, 2002). However awareness of the resources, their economic potential and conversion of the resources into finished goods in the current patent era is limited at local level. The impact of human activities on natural ecosystems and over harvesting has increased several folds becoming an issue of public concern, particularly the species disappearance against the changing global weather, choking pollution and decreasing interest in farming systems. The ecology of the habitats occupied by many of the species at best is fragile. The situation is of alarming because the plant communities have been altered so much restoration of their habitats to their previous level is almost impossible. Our understanding of the cause of species loss and efforts to remedy the situation are a mismatch and disproportionate to the magnitude of the problem. Prediction is that many species will disappear in the coming years and our efforts to save a few will be equal to a house on fire where only a few can be saved. Under such circumstances, only by imparting environmental education at various levels starting from the schools, can the broad vision of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity accompanied by equitable sharing of benefits enshrined in Agenda 21 of Biodiversity Convention be achieved to build a society based on values. It is both a direction need and societal obligation aimed at salvaging the mankind.
Conceptually this education program with five environmental games and five activities was designed for the benefit of primary level students of Government, Government aided and private schools to played with the support of school authorities so that the children will carry environmental message of conservation of plant resources and their sustainable use for posterity. This outreach program is taught in a natural play way method so that the students understand the natural processes better and readily learn the games and activities and become environment friendly with changes in their feelings, knowledge, attitude, skill and participatory tendency. The games starts with primary process of photosynthesis and photosynthetic products used as food and O2 to breath, and goes on to Island biodiversity game where important components (plants and animals) of a tropical rain forest interact to make much of the forest community. Food web and pollution game makes children understand the process of dependence on each other well and the carnivores at the end of food chain are dependent on the herbivores at the other end. The toxicity of pollutant (pesticide) contaminated food to the herbivores, carnivores and human being is aimed at slow poisoning and death of all forms of life depicted in the form of a game. Biodiversity and development game is one where conservation and development are viewed opposite to each other. The game is designed to look at aspects of exploitation and loss of resources by loggers, agricultural expansion into forest areas and also conservation of resources by right minded people.
Among the activities proposed is the familiarization of the bioresources by the children using different senses. The local biodiversity getting fragmented is vividly brought out by an imaginary Government’s decision to construct roads within the forest and subsequent problems of mosquito menace, diseases, infestations and death. One of the important items of activities is the location of a curative plant (anti-cancer plant) by a multinational company which reaches the ears of the village community, subsequently an NGO, the government and a lively debate is initiated for benefit sharing by different user groups. How amicably the problem gets solved between the warring groups is the crux of the activity.
We have found the students getting deeply involved in the games and activities and following unending discussion. The level of understanding from the self-acting and demonstrations of the teachers and hence the participation varied between schools. It appears the children from Government schools understand the concepts better than other children. During the course of interactions, many of the girls and some boys became too friendly with the assistant staff that many of them inquisitive about collected plants to identify their names and their uses etc. All of them are of the opinion many such programs should be conducted every year. By and large more than 90% of the students got carried away by the program as the programs are new and unheard of in traditional teaching.