Environmental journalist Bahar Dutt and folk artist Sudarshan Shaw have been making great progress in popularizing biodiversity with the help of folk art.
The idea to promote biodiversity with art first came up in Dutt’s mind when she discovered how incredibly diverse the species are in Shiv Nadar University, one of India’s Institutions of Eminence. University researchers recorded a total of 354 plant species (234 wild and 120 cultivated), 10 species of mammals, 65 species of birds, nine species of reptiles, five species of amphibians and 54 species of butterflies dwelling in the university.
Dutt’s collaborator and also colleague in the university, Sudarshan Shaw, devised a novel way to enhance students’ appreciation of species diversity--folk art. Shaw is familiar with and also renowned for the type of folk art that involves an intricate type of painting onto cloth. He then created the first one-of-a-kind and local biodiversity map using his skills in folk art for the school.
Just as Dutt says, “true conservation benefits most from using local voices, language and history, and practices, among other things.” The attempt to popularize and raise people's awareness of biodiversity through more local and easily understandable art form is proved to be promising. It functions as a powerful communication tool to explain the complex terms in graphs, while still triggering students' positive attitude toward preservation and conservation of nature and biodiversity. A student applying to the university even passionately reported to “realize this is the university [she] wanted to study in and nowhere else.” after seeing the biodiversity map in Shiv Nadar University.
Both schools, students, educators, and the nature and species themselves will be benefited through this memorable and unusual method.