Rainforest canopies are fascinating habitats harbouring rich and unique creatures, many of which are still unknown to science. They not only support high terrestrial biodiversity, but also represent a critical interface between the atmosphere and the earth. Forest canopies also provide goods and services to support diverse human communities and offer opportunities to explore sustainable use of such resources for local livelihood generation. Besides, the canopy can also act as a ‘hook for sustainable use’ such as canopy ecotourism and education and outreach. Ever since entomologist Terry Erwin labeled the tropical rainforest canopy ‘The Last Biotic Frontier’ on Earth in 1982, the scientific community has been working on various aspects of the canopy. Yet, forest canopies remain the least explored habitats in most parts of the world.
International canopy conferences have been organized at intervals of four to five years and hosted at different venues across the globe. These meetings have successfully convened scientists, environmental managers, arborists, and policy-makers concerned with the science and sustainable use of forests around the world. This year, the 5th International Canopy Conference will be organized by the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, (ATREE), in Bangalore. This is the first time the conference will be organised in the Asian region.
Canopies in India are hardly explored and have not received much attention. Threats of deforestation and climate change threaten to disrupt these fragile habitats even before they are fully explored and understood. It is being realised world over that general public support is contingent for conservation. Bearing this in mind, the conference organizers have planned a series of events to share this fascinating world of canopies, which is restricted to a small clique of scientists and naturalists, with children, policy makers and citizenry. Outreach programmes include public lecture and competitions to actively involve people. Public lectures will be given by Meg Lowman and Mark Moffet followed by the screening of the ‘Heroes of the High Frontier’. Another talk by Dr. K. N. Ganeshaiah on the ‘Role of natural resources in the emergence and decline of empires and civilizations: lessons from Indian history’ will be held in the grand setting of an important archaeological site. The photo contest with the theme of forest canopy conservation encourages amateur and semi-professional photographer to explore the canopies. The contest will be judged by Mark Moffet, Shekhar Dattatri and Sandesh Kadur. H. S. Ganesh, will be the advisor and judge for the event. The details of the competition can be viewed at www.canopy2009.org/html/P&F.html
Jahnavi and Aravind
(Photo competition conveners)
N. A. Aravind Madhyastha, PhD
Fellow and Coordinator,
The Academy for Conservation Science and Sustainability Studies,,
Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE),
Royal Enclave, Srirampura, Jakkur PO
Bengaluru 560064, India