Reporting On The Biodiversity Crisis In India

A Journalism Bootcamp

What is it about

The world’s biodiversity is under threat. Thousands of species of wildlife across ecosystems have been lost already. COVID-19 has drawn attention to how zoonotic diseases will emerge out of such habitat destruction. 

In India, saving some of the world’s hottest biodiversity hotspots competes with the demand for land and natural resources necessary for economic progress. The resulting conflicts have implications for the economy, environment, politics and law. 

How can journalists best convey these challenges to citizens, and ask the right questions to those in power? 

How can stories effectively draw connections between, say, agricultural biodiversity and farmers’ unrest, and between biodiversity destruction and local economies, corruption, greed and injustice?

To this end, Land Conflict Watch is hosting a month-long online bootcamp, ‘Reporting On The Biodiversity Crisis In India’. 

The bootcamp will bring together experts and journalists to provide understanding and tools to investigate and tell nuanced stories on the challenges faced by India’s biodiversity. 

The goal is to also build a peer community and a space for participants to share and develop ideas into compelling stories. We intend to make this one an interactive course, where we learn from each other, and share our experiences and stories as journalists and citizens who care about the environment and its impact on our lives.

Our fantastic cohort

Abinaya Kalyanasundaram
Writer
Chennai
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Abinaya is a writer, editor and photographer who loves creating narratives around the natural world. She is currently Assistant Editor at Sanctuary Asia magazine. When not working, she loves gardening, writing free verse poetry and playing with her two cats.

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Aditi Murti
Journalist
Pune
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Aditi currently reports on gender, health, science and cities. She has a postgraduate diploma in new media journalism from the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai.

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Anaka Kaundinya
Journalist/Documentary Filmmaker/Podcast Producer
Mumbai
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Anaka is a writer, journalist and multimedia producer. Her work has got international recognition, including at the SXSW 2020, Solo Para Cortos International Film Festival and Webby International Awards.

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Anjana Vencatesan
Researcher
Chennai
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Anjana is a Senior Research Associate with Care Earth Trust, a biodiversity and conservation non-profit in Chennai. She is currently working on projects on wetland restoration and those studying the impact of anthropogenic activities on Chennai’s coasts.

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Barkha Kumari
Journalist
Bengaluru
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Barkha is a journalist. In her career spanning a decade, she has specialised in features on arts, culture and human-interest stories. She currently freelances for VICE, Moneycontrol, Deccan Herald and FirstPost, among others.

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Chryselle D'silva Dias
Journalist
Goa
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Chryselle is a freelance journalist. She has written for TIME, BBC, The Atlantic, Hakai, Guardian UK, Scroll.in and The Hindu, among others.

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Faustina
Editor/Writer/Sociologist
Hyderabad
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Faustina is a writer and editor. They cover issues related to social justice, science, environmental legislation and gender.

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Hariprasad AR
Journalist
Chennai
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Hari is a journalist and engineering school survivor. He has previously reported for The Hindu, The Financial Express and The New Indian Express on topics ranging from industrial pollution to banking. Later, he found his calling in environmental journalism.

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Nimisha Agarwal
Journalist
Delhi
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Nimisha is a former trek leader-turned-freelance journalist, reporting primarily on animal agriculture, gender, and the environment. Their work has featured in Sentient Media, Firstpost, Khabar Lahariya and News18.

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Ravleen Kaur
Journalist
Gujarat
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Ravleen is an independent journalist covering rural and environment issues. She has worked with The Indian Express, Down To Earth, All India Radio and India Water Portal. She has worked in Ladakh as part of a fellowship by the National Foundation for India.

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Rayies Altaf
Academic/Journalist
Kashmir
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Rayies is an STS (science-technology studies) researcher and a freelance science journalist. His areas of interest include science-society interaction, technology, ecology, climate change and sustainability.

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Rhea Dangwal
Journalist
Punjab
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Rhea is a freelance multimedia journalist. She reports on rural development, agriculture, gender and more.

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Richa Malhotra
Journalist
Pune
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Richa is an independent science writer. She has written about life sciences, wildlife issues, and conservation for national and international outlets for over a decade.

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Rinkita Gurav
Wildlife Conservationist
Mumbai
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Rinkita works as a wildlife conservationist with the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature - India. Her work focuses on conserving the remaining vulture population in the country. She has previously worked with Mid-Day and the Bombay Natural History Society.

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Ritika Mahajan
Academic
Jaipur
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Ritika is an Assistant Professor at MNIT Jaipur teaching in the area of general management and strategy. Prior to that, she worked at the TERI School of Advanced Studies, New Delhi.

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Rohit Lohia
Photojournalist
New Delhi
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Rohit is a photographer and writer. He captures the connections between social injustice, human rights, gender conformity, mental health, the notion of belonging and communities subjected to discrimination and marginalisation. His work has been published in The Caravan, The Telegraph, Associated Press and The National (Abu Dhabi), among others.

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Shaz Syed
Filmmaker
Delhi
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Shaz is a filmmaker and cameraperson. He has collaborated in productions by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, BBC’s Natural History Unit, The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (Delhi) and The Energy Resource Institute (TERI).

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Tapasya
Journalist
Jammu
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Tapasya is an independent journalist. They like to explore issues of development, land and hydro-politics by reporting on policy implementation and impact at the local level. They have previously reported for StoriesAsia, The Kashmir Walla and The Third Pole.

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Vaibhav Walunj
Journalist
Pune
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Vaibhav is a freelance journalist, writer and translator. He has previously worked as a design engineer and currently reports on social movements, rural affairs and culture for Indie Journal, Dalit Camera, The Wire, The Satyashodhak, CG Net Swara and Round Table India.

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Varsha Singh
Journalist
Dehradun
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Varsha is an independent journalist who writes on environment, public health and social issues. Her stories have been published in Down To Earth, The Third Pole, Newsclick and 101 Reporters.

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Our Experts

Anoop George Philip
Journalist

Anoop is a journalist based in Delhi with 16 years of experience in print, online and television. He has worked mostly behind the desk to make copies error-free, literate and attractive. Anoop previously worked at The Indian Express as Senior Editor coordinating with reporters and bureau chiefs across India for daily news coverage. As Executive Editor of Outlookindia.com, he led Outlook magazine’s digital operation. He has also led the news desks of The Times of India, Hindustan Times and The Hindu, and was part of the copy desk in NDTV 24X7.

Guneet Narula
Technologist

Guneet is an information technologist who works with civil society organisations, activist groups and non-profits in South Asia. His work involves data applications and processes for collection, management, analysis and visualisation. He contributes to and uses open source software and is an open data activist with a love for maps. Beyond software choices and ideals, his focus is on making digital technologies easier to access, use and understand.

Kanchi Kohli
Legal Researcher

Kanchi Kohli is a researcher working on environment, forest and biodiversity governance in India. Her work explores the links between law, industrialisation and environmental justice. Other than her independent work, Kanchi is Legal Research Director to the Centre for Policy Research-Namati Environmental Justice Programme. She is also a member of Kalpavriksh Environmental Action Group.

Kavitha Kuruganty
Social Activist

Kavitha is a social activist known for her work related to sustainable farm livelihoods and farmers’ rights. She has 25 years of experience working in the development sector and is Founder Convenor of Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), a pan-India alliance of more than 400 organisations that have come together to secure India’s ‘Food, Farmers & Freedom’. Kavitha has also served on several Government of India’s Committees/Task Forces in an advisory role.

Kumar Sambhav Srivastava
Journalist

Kumar Sambhav is a journalist and member of The Reporters’ Collective. He has reported for India’s prime news outlets, including Business Standard, Scroll.in, Hindustan Times, Down To Earth and The Times of India on governance, business and social justice. For his reporting, Sambhav has received the Press Council of India National Award for Excellence in Journalism, Shriram Award for Excellence in Financial Journalism, Global Investigative Journalism Network’s Global Shining Light Award and the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist from the Developing World Award. He is LCW’s Founding Partner and Project Director.

Kundan Kumar
Researcher

Kundan Kumar is Asia Program Director at the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI). Prior to joining RRI in 2014, he worked as a faculty member at the University of Toronto for five years. An expert who has invested decades in researching and learning about forest governance and environmental justice, Kundan is one of the leading voices on natural resources governance, forests and land tenure, and social and environmental movements.

MD Madhusudan
Scientist

Madhusudan is a biologist and an ecologist. Over the last two decades, he has studied the ecological and social aspects of the interactions between people and large wild animals. He has also worked with individuals and collectives at various scales to apply such knowledge to mobilise conservation action and on-ground change. He has helped create, grow and manage Nature Conservation Foundation, a Mysuru-based non-profit.

Mrinali Karthick
Researcher

Mrinali graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Economics and joined Land Conflict Watch hoping to humanise the subject. She is keen on working to include gender, environment and the intersection of the two in public policy. As the Database and Research Coordinator, she works with researchers and journalists to understand and analyse the data gathered at Land Conflict Watch.

Nihar Gokhale
Journalist

Nihar is a journalist based in New Delhi. He has reported on environmental policy, infrastructure projects, land conflicts and livelihoods for major publications and news websites in India, including Scroll, IndiaSpend, The Economic Times, The Hindu Business Line and The Caravan. Nihar studied environmental economics at TERI School of Advanced Studies, New Delhi, and journalism at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai. He is LCW’s Associate Editor.

Nitin Sethi
Journalist

Nitin is a journalist, a member of The Reporters' Collective and the Media Lead at the National Foundation for India. He has written, reported and investigated for two decades on the intersections of India's political economy, natural resources, environment, climate change, economy, public finance and development. He has previously worked in editorial positions at The Business Standard, Scroll.in, The Hindu, The Times of India and Down To Earth. He is a Partner and Editorial Advisor at Land Conflict Watch.

Rohan Arthur
Scientist

Rohan is a scientist working on marine ecosystems and their conservation. He concerns his work with the issues of conservation, particularly the implications of climate change for marine ecosystems, the rational management of marine systems and fisheries in India, and the interface between policy, traditional practices, and ecosystem management. He is one of the founder-trustees of Mysuru-based non-profit Nature Conservation Foundation and also the director of its reef programme.

Shalini Bhutani
Legal Researcher

Shalini is a legal researcher and policy analyst based in New Delhi, India, working in the Asia region. She has been tracking global and regional trade rules, including those of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and 'WTO-plus' free trade agreements (FTAs) and bilateral investment treaties (BITs). On the domestic front, she focuses on the range of laws and policies around agri-food systems and their implications for agro-biodiversity, food sovereignty and farmers' rights. Her expertise is on the politics and provisions of the Biological Diversity Act, the Seed Act and the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Act. She has worked in the development sector, including with and in a range of national and international NGOs, such as Navdanya, World Wide Fund for Nature-India, GRAIN and the Pesticide Action Network (Asia Pacific). She is also a national consultant for the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO). She has taught at the Centre for Environmental Law and been guest faculty in various law and other universities.

Sweta Daga
Community Facilitator

Sweta is a Bangalore-based storyteller and community facilitator. She has told stories across platforms -- from television to film to theatre. As a freelance journalist, she has worked in India focusing on climate justice with intersections in gender and equality. She has also facilitated workshops with changemakers across the world on interpersonal and systemic change.

Dates and other Details  

Sessions: The bootcamp will be conducted online, over ten 90-minute sessions.

Dates: From May 18, 2021 to June 17, 2021

Schedule: Two sessions per week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3 PM. Each session will last 90 minutes.

What we will cover 

  • Understanding the issues around India’s biodiversity from subject experts
  • How to identify story ideas on biodiversity issues, and key elements of such stories
  • The legal framework that governs India’s vast and varied biodiversity areas and hotspots
  • Uncovering linkages in the political economy that drive changes to cultivated and natural biodiversity
  • Understanding intersections between biodiversity conservation, climate change, land and peoples’ rights
  • Using investigative methods including, but not limited, to Right to Information Act 
  • Editorial perspectives and guidance on developing story ideas and reportage 
  • Last but not the least, sharing information, challenges and struggles among peers

Land Conflict Watch: You can find information about us and our team here