Northeast India’s video documentation hub coaching youth in conservation

Kolkata, Oct 15 (IANS) Digitally archiving wildlife and environment is a key resource in conservation, says environmental filmmaker Rita Banerji, who kick-started northeast India’s first youth and community based video documentation centre in Tezpur, Assam.

The Green Hub centre in Tezpur trains as many as 20 youths in video documentation, editing and photography to aid in recording the environment, wildlife, biodiversity Aand communities in northeast India.

“The first batch of students is now making short films and videos and a digital archive is being created. We offer a two-and-a-half month fellowship for which youngsters from remote and marginalised communities are selected. Experts in conservation coach them.”

“They can get into conservation through video documentation,” Banerji told IANS over the phone on Thursday.

Banerji, who won the Panda Award (Green Oscar) in 2010, alongwith co-director Shilpi Sharma for the film “The Wild Meat Trail”, said recording existing and disappearing biodiversity helps keep track and provides valuable information to stakeholders like NGOs and scientists who engage in conservation.

“Everybody who is working on ground has a camera and when they shoot wildlife they have a lot of footage lying around so the aim was how can we make use of those and make them openly accessible to the community so that they can protect their resources,” explained Banerji.

The Delhi-based filmmaker, who now divides her time between the national capital and the northeast, wishes to branch out to other regions, like the Odisha coast, for the video documentation hub.

Odisha coast has one of world’s largest nesting sites for the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles and is also Banerji’s focus areas.

“Turtle Diaries: The Olive Ridley Turtle” by Banerji, which won the ‘Film for Children’ award at the just-concluded eighth CMS Vatavaran festival, captures a stunning mass nesting event and shows how communities are assisting in conservation locally.

“The biggest threat to the turtles and wildlife in the coastal region is the disappearance of beaches due to development projects,” added Banerji.

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