To mark International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018, Landscapes News is publishing a series of stories honoring women with a laurel for their dedication to improving the landscape. In this profile, Varun Grover writes about Deepali Rautela. Check Viewpoint for more laurel recipients.
The story of this Landscape Laurel is set in India, a place engraved with the identity of superwomen, whether in mythology, politics, literature or family.
She is a young professional who chose to enter the academic world of environmental sciences because it connected the dots of all the living elements around her in the simplest language.
She is not a warrior who worked tirelessly with farmers in the field, not a leader who led the whole universe towards salvation, and definitely not an activist roaring her way toward a noble cause. She is a dreamer, a believer in a greener world, peace and prosperity, a writer and, above all, energy efficient in turning a seed into a fruit bearing tree. She is a change maker.
Deepali Rautela started working with a non-profit organization, Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF) aimed at developing and establishing a globally aligned certification program in India, and addressing the concerns for sustainable management of forests and trees outside forest areas. At the same time, NCCF aims to make the Indian wood and forest fiber based industry competent globally.
Forest certification has been in India’s purview over the past 20 years, and there have been several attempts to develop a national forest certification standard, but none reached a successful conclusion. NCCF took on this task as a challenge and after a 30 months a long drawn process successfully released its Internationally Benchmarked Certification Standard for Forest Management and launched the National Certification Scheme for Sustainable Forest Management on Jan. 13, 2018.
With the organization since its inception, she has been the main driver in the successful development of these sustainability standards. She has been at the forefront, interacting and involving multiple stakeholders, organizing and coordinating periodic meetings, sharing timely updates through emails and website, documentation and record keeping, communicating and providing a platform for feedback throughout the duration of the project.
The stakeholders associated in this voluntary policy development range from national governments, state forest departments, institutions, nongovernmental organizations, forest dwellers and local communities, women’s groups, workers and traders, business and industry, multilateral organizations and others.
The strata of stakeholders ranging from the social, environmental and economic forefront, directly or indirectly impacted by forest management, were engaged in the standard development process through a regional workshop.
To check the feasibility of the standard being developed, analyze the gaps and verify the inputs received from stakeholders, three pilot tests were also conducted by an audit team where the forest dependent communities, forest managers, forest resource users were interviewed, the resource base was assessed, and gaps in management practices were analyzed.
Throughout the journey she has been highly motivated and displayed meticulous organizational skills in managing resources, and leadership skills where five students interned under her guidance and mentorship for a duration of 10 weeks and her analytical thinking resulted in successful outcomes at every stage.
Throughout she has been supported by senior executives who had faith and belief in her.