Nature conservation is a very much way of life in India, deep rooted in our ancient culture. Our forefathers, in a unique way, have ensured biodiversity conservation with people’s participation. Sacred groves and forests are examples of such traditional wisdom. Sacred Groves are forest patches dedicated to the local deity, and faith and taboo play a very effective forest guarding mechanism restricting human interventions in groves.
Sacred Groves are common pool resources or important elements of ecosystem. These small patches of forests, protected by village communities, allowed nature to sustain its own way so that it can support various life forms like trees, herbs, shrubs, climbers and various dependent microbial & animal life, and cherish many such examples. Worship is one way of protection.
Our knowledge about Sacred Groves is still not complete. People do not know much, and when information becomes reveal to them, lots of reactions follow it. Much is still to be explored. More explorations and more documentation, including that of the sociological aspects, is the need of the hour.
As we all know, that this beautiful tradition was seldom recognized formally and remained unknown to common man until Dr. V. D. Vartak and Dr. Madhav Gadgil brought it into lime light, and since then this unique institution of Devrai or the Sacred Grove is universally studied for its wonders and its uses in present day problems like diminishing biodiversity, climate change and rapid deforestation
In fact, nature lovers all over the world were thrilled by the foresight of our ancestors and the role of traditional societies in conservation. Till now many of these Devrais or Sacred Groves are conserved by the local people on the strength of faith in deities, but increasing competition for natural resources is eroding the faith. Taboos do not work for a long time, and now people need to be made aware about the importance of Sacred Groves in present context! These dwindling sacred groves highlighted the necessity of a sustained social movement by all sections of society for its protection and Mission Devrai came into being as a sustained social movement involving all sections of society for protection through educating masses about the science behind Sacred Groves.
Maharashtra Vruksha Samvardhini felt it was essential that Devrai or Sacred Groves needs additional support from all of us in various aspects. We felt the need to communicate this point and it is high time to take practical steps to conserve bio-diversity and ecological aspect of Sacred Groves for future generations. This is possible through systematic and scientific awareness campaign.