Since 1974, countries around the globe have celebrated June 5th as World Environment Day. Because of the tremendous environmental effects of plastic, this year's theme is "Beat Plastic Pollution", with India as the host nation. This date is a great opportunity to reflect on how our society interacts with the environment, and what can be done in order to conserve it for future generations.
Created in 1994, The Corbett Foundation (TFC), is a charitable trust, a non-profit and a non-governmental organization with a wide range of programs in more than 400 villages spread around India. Their goal is simple; to create of a life of harmony between humans and wildlife. With an administrative office in Mumbai, they count on a team of approximately 80 people, from different professional backgrounds, to deal with their healthcare, veterinarian care, and environmental projects.
"TCF’s mission is to promote a peaceful coexistence between humans and wildlife. The foundation has undertaken numerous programs in support of its mission, resulting in community-based management and conservation of natural resources", said Jill Flateland, who went to India with her husband Byron to document the work of TCF.
According to Byron, the two weeks that they spent in India was a great opportunity to learn how the NGO facilitiates multiple programs to accomplish one common goal. "One example is the construction of more efficient chulha stoves which both save firewood and almost completely eliminates smoke inhalation by household members. It was also a real education to see just how many different kinds of efforts it takes to support effective wildlife conservation", he explained. "There is synergy in TCF’s approach as wildlife and the community walk side-by-side bringing healthy prosperity to both. May we cause no harm to the ecosystem and only leave our footprints in the sand", added Jill.
According to the couple, traveling as a team was a very effective way to capture all the necessary visual and written material. "I was the principal photographer with Jill having a second camera that was generally equipped with a different lens for added flexibility. Working this way, we were able to shoot complementary shots of different aspects of each situation.", said Byron. "I love a story, and TCF lives and breathes stories every day. I was fortunate enough to witness these first-hand and to have the opportunity to write how TCF impacts people and the environment around them", said Jill, who interviewed people while Byron was behind the lens.
Byron explained that the importance of the organization, on top of their many important projects, is that they are changing people's opinions of conservation. He added that, in the past, the Indian government re-located many villagers in order to establish or expand parks and wildlife reserves. "This understandably engendered feeling of hostility and distrust toward the government and the whole idea of wildlife conservation. Without TCF’s work in educating people that wildlife conservation and their own well-being can be synergistic, these older ways of thinking would continue and wildlife would be further endangered by the actions of surrounding populations", he said.
To learn more about TFC's work, please click here.
And click here for more information on World Environment Day and this year's theme.