The aim of the project is to
promote the socioeconomic development
of the Vasavas and to protect their
traditional knowledge of medicinal plants.
The Shoolapaneshwar forests in south Gujarat are remnants of some of the finest forests in the Gujarat. The Dediapada forests are part of the Shoolpaneshwar forests. They are home to a variety of natural resources and a diversity of flora and fauna.
The Vasava tribals who inhabit the Shoolpaneshwar forests form a prominent part of the diverse ethnic groups. They form a homogenous group with their own leadership, law and custom. They form a community of farmers who support their life by forest hunting, gathering of herbal plants, and raising cattle. They possess immense knowledge about the medicinal plants growing in that area but due to lack of awareness amongst the group there is no documentation of this knowledge by the tribals. It is orally passed by the elders to the next generation. With the changing time this knowledge is getting extinct.
Fr. Lancy D’Cruz, while pursing the research in Ethno botany came in contact with the Vasavas adivasis. Despite living in areas rich in biodiversity, these tribals were living below the poverty line. Deeply impressed by the fact that these tribals have both – the plants, and the knowledge about the plants, he thought of innovative ideas to help the tribals generate income from these resources. This was done through a project that the Xavier Research Foundation carried out along with the Adivasi Samajik Kendra, Dediapada titled “People –forest-laboratory linkages for conservation of ethno botanical biodiversity”
On completion of this project Fr Lancy D’Cruz joined hands with Jeevan Tirth and Manthan Educational Programme Society India and the team. They together designed a project which was forwarded to an NGO, ALBOAN. The aim was to promote the socio-economic development of the Vasavas and to protect their traditional knowledge of medicinal plants. Several ideas were exchanged among the partner NGOs who are experts in the field of education, research, training, etc in order to support the Vasavas.