The Academy for Mountain Environics, the research arm of the BCIL, was founded over a decade ago with the basic objective of guiding people on simple, user-friendly systems for harnessing energy and water. The focus is on maintaining the tenuous harmony between the 5 ja’s that bind the planet — jan (people), jal (water) jameen (land), jungle (forests) and janwar (fauna). With projects in districts of Uttaranchal and Madhya Pradesh, the Academy consists of professionals who have come together from diverse fields. Some are geologists and geophysicists. Others are vernacular architects, water managers, explorers, trek escorts, camp organisers. Yet others are botanists, species enumerators and even young farmers who seek to put their experience to good use.

The Academy has chosen to carry out a major part of its work in the mountains since these remain the only repositories of culture and biodiversity that have not yet been ravaged by development.

The main thrust of the Academy’s work is in three broad regions.

In Garhwal where we are involved in:

• Building quake-proof homes with local traditions and skills.

• Spring water bottling in the higher reaches of the Himalayas with least environment impact..

• Dissemination of information on and the promotion of growth of medicinal plants and herbs.

• Mushroom farming with women cooperatives.

In Coorg where we have undertaken:

• The afforestation of the Kopatti Valley.

• The creation of a Red List Park.

• The setting up of a Rice farm to showcase various biodiverse species of rice.

• Farm Awareness Programmes.