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The first National Conference on Urban Biodiversity Conservation, held on 5th & 6th August, 2022 was organised by The Nature Volunteers (TNV), in Indore. The co-organisers were World Researchers’ Association (WRA), Indore and the technical support was provided by National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), Chennai.

The aim of the two-day conference was to sensitise the citizens and the city managers towards biodiversity conservation in urban areas, to make our cities liveable while stressing on timely policy interventions with an eye on the future, if we have to survive and our planet has to survive. Domain experts participated and deliberated on how to save our cities. The spotlight was on urban biodiversity conservation, the need of the hour.

The first day of the conference was held at Radisson Hotel, Indore. The inaugural session was started by lighting the traditional lamp and was followed by the Keynote address by the Chairman, National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) Dr VB Mathur, followed by speeches by TNV President Padma Shri, Shri Bhalu Mondhe and other esteemed guests like the Principal Secy, Dept of Environment Shri Aniruddhe Mukherjee (IAS), Shri Nikunj Shrivastava (IAS), PCCF Dr Atul Shrivastava (IFS), Dr SL Garg, Dr Davish Jain, Dr P Rao, Shri Ritesh Kumar, Dr S Banerjee, Chairman TNV Shri RP Singh (IFS retd) and Director NIUA Dr Hitesh Vaidya. Vice President TNV and Director NCUBC 2022, Shri Abhilash Khandekar welcomed all the panellists on behalf of TNV and informed the gathering about the conference and the events to come. Secretary TNV, Shri Dev Kumar Vasudevan gave the vote of thanks. The technical sessions started there after.

Session I - Coexisting with nature for sustainable cities: Presentation by U Rajasekar (NIUA, New Delhi). The panel discussion was chaired by Shri Hitesh Vaidya (Director, NIUA, New Delhi). The co-panelists were Victor Rana Shinde, Dr Subhashish Banerjee and Dr Manita Saxena.

Session II - Ecology in metropolitan regions-Tools, Processes and Policy Interventions: Presentation by Dr Monalisa Sen (ICLEI, New Delhi). The panel discussion was chaired by Dr Atul Shrivastava (IFS). The co-panellists were Shri V Krishna (Addl. Comm, Urban Biodiversity, GHMC Hyderabad), M Ashraf (Chairman, Town Planning Committee, Kochi).

Session III - Role of urban bodies in Urban Biodiversity Conservation: Presentation by Dr Bakul Lad (MPSBB, Bhopal). The panel discussion was chaired by Dr P Rao (Director, SPA, New Delhi). The co-panellists were Dr Atul Shrivastava (IFS) and Shri Nikunj Shrivastava (IFS).

Session IV - Urban Wetlands-Challenges in Conservation: Presentation by Shri Kaustubh Rishi (Ornithologist, TNV). The panel discussion was chaired by Shri Aniruddhe Mukherjee (IAS). The co-panellists were Shri Ritesh Kumar and Shri Sandeep Khanwalkar (Director, Ecosoul Enviro Pvt Ltd).

Session V - Promoting Biodiversity in Urban Landscapes: Presentation by Dr Areendran Gopala (WWF India). The panel discussion was chaired by Dr VB Mathur (Chairman, NBA). The co-panellists included Shri HS Mohanta (IFS), Ms Neha Raghav (WWF India), Dr Ambika Sharma (WWF India) and Shri Amit Dubey (WWF India).


Day 2: Field Visits and concluding sessions (6th August, 2022)

The second day of the conference began with a field trip to Sirpur Lake, the wetland which is the flagship project of TNV, which was recently declared a Ramsar site in August, 2022. The session was led by TNV's ornithologists Shri Ajay Gadikar and Shri Kaustubh Rishi. After the visit to Sirpur, the second field session was at Keshar Parvat, Mhow. Technical Sessions:

Session I - Conserving traditional urban water sources-Means to protect climate and biodiversity: Presentation by Shri Lokendra Thakkar (EPCO). The panel discussion was chaired by Dr S Banerjee. The co-panellists included Dr Ishwar Narayanan (UNEP) and Shri Ambrish Kela (Environment activist, entrepreneur and philanthropist).

Session II - Urban Forest Experiment: Presentation by Vishal Pawar (Anand Van Foundation, Pune). The panel discussion was chaired by Shri Nikunj Shrivastava (IAS). The co-panellists included Padma Shri Bhalu Mondhe (President, TNV), Shri Bhupesh Sharma, Shri R Gupta, IAS – CEO Smart City.

The two-day conference concluded with the release of the Indore Declaration on Urban Biodiversity. Jt Secy TNV, Smt Vindhyeshwari Kumari read out the Declaration to bring the Valedictory session to a close. The declaration was then presented to Chairman, NBA Dr VB Mathur.

This, first of a kind, conference attracted nature lovers and urban planners from various parts of the country and made the event a resounding success.

The hard-working team of TNV worked tirelessly to make this event a big success. Conference coordinator and member TNV Shri Ravi Gupta, was ably helped by TNV members Shri Dev Kumar Vasudevan, Shri Ajay Gadikar, Smt Vindhyeshwari Kumari, Shri OP Maheshwari, Shri Vijay Rangnekar, Shri Kaustubh Rishi, Shri Sajid Lodi, Shri Abhyudaya Kelkar, Shri Neeraj Bagwan and Shri Sachin Barekar, to organise this very successful event.

Team TNV was helped by student volunteers of PMB Gujarati Science College in organising this very special event and we are very thankful to them for all their hard work and efforts.

The Smart City, Indore, Govt of Madhya Pradesh and all our other esteemed partners are to be specially thanked for all their help and support in organising this prestigious event.

The conference was a very productive and enriching two days with some of the best brains in the field sharing their experience and deliberating over the very serious issue of protecting and conserving urban bio-diversity.

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