This member participated in the following discussions
I will like to draw attention towards a very important indigenous practice of water conservation named sacred groves. Sacred groves are extremely important in terms of biodiversity, cultural, religious and ethnic heritage and are intertwined with numerous traditional legends, lore, and myths. They are home to many rare and endemic wild plants having agricultural and medicinal value. International Union for Conservation of Nature and natural Resources (IUCN) treats them as sacred natural sites (SNS). These relic forest patches often protects watersheds and are source of water for agricultural fields nearby. Several sacred groves have been reported throughout the world being intimately connected with indigenous local communities. Examples can be given of Yoruba of Ara in southwestern Nigeria, the Kuna Indians of Panama, South America, the Cocnucos and Yanaconas of Colombia, the Tukano of the Uaupés basin on the Brazil–Colombia border,coastal sacred groves (Kayas) of Kenya. India is home to about 100,000 sacred groves being protected by indigenous communities throughout the country. Some of the famous Indian Sacred groves occurs in Khasi Hills of Assam, in the Arvalli ranges of Rajasthan, all along the Western Ghats in the southern peninsula, in the districts of Bastar and Sarguja in Madya Pradesh, in the Chanda district in Maharastra, in the Bankura, Birbhum and Purulia districts of West Bengal.
Sacred groves maintains ecological services like preserving local hydrological cycles, preventing soil erosion, serving as firebreaks, and serving as areas of recruitment of species, allowing for ecosystem renewal during various disturbances. Especially in mountainous terrain, their rich vegetation plays crucial role in slope stabilization and soil conservation. As the runoff water is reduced, paving way for greater infiltration, soil erosion and sedimentation of downstream areas are minimized. Grove soil is usually rich in organic matter due to efficient decomposition of leaf litter, dead wood and other remnants. Water seeping out of sacred groves into the surrounding cultivation areas is considered nutrient rich by village communities. Hence my suggestion is conservation of sacred groves with emphasis on their role in agricultural water management and biodiversity conservation should be prioritised.
I will like to draw attentions to the use of vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides), a native Indian grass for addressing the water scarcity. This grass is commonly known as Khas-Khas, Khas or Khus and highly valued for its essential oil. It is highly valued among tribals for its medicinal values and is frequently used in aromatherapy. This grass can be cultivated for multiple issues of in situ soil and water conservation in agrarian land. Vetiver contour hedges in India on cropping land with 1.7 % slope is reported to reduce runoff, soil loss to a huge extent. This grass can tolerate extreme climatic variations like prolonged period of drought, flood, submergence and extreme temperature fluctuations from −14 to 55 °C. It is also tolerant of adverse soil conditions like soil acidity, salinity, sodicity and acid sulfate states. Vetiver leaves can serve as medium for mushroom cultivation. Handicrafts made from vetiver roots serves as sources of income for smallholder farmers of the Western Ghats, India. Moreover, vetiver curtains on windows serves as the traditional way to keep home cool during the scorching summer days and is still used in various parts of India. It keeps home cool and is claimed to be an alternative of air conditioner thereby saving energy.
Hence cultivation of this plant in a better planned way calls for an immediate attention.