Forsyth Lodge makes every effort to tread as lightly as possible on the ecosystem. We make exciting encounters with nature possible for our guests through sustainable tourism. Our conservation model is based on active involvement and motivation from locals and people relocated from tribal villages. We spread awareness, provide sustainable means of livelihood and enable them to take on the onus of protection and conservation. Together, we help give back to our environment and the community.
These efforts are reflected in the care with which our buildings are constructed, how we manage and recycle water, and the manner in which we find better alternatives to existing technology.
Our concern is equally reflected in the responsible practices we employ to aid the return of the jungle in the property and surrounding areas. In a recent undertaking, we’ve managed to tackle two obstacles to the regeneration of the forest: the lack of plant diversity and an “invasion” by aggressively spreading Lantana. We’re replacing the Lantana with a diversity of indigenous trees, shrubs and climbers in the monsoons. This project is being carried out in consultation with ecology and reforestation experts to help restore the natural habitat.
As the forest slowly and steadily returns to the area, we’re doing everything in our capacity to welcome it with open arms. Our property uses wild fencing by and large, rather than wire or electrified fencing, to ensure the unhindered movement of species across their preferred routes. Most of our 44 acres are undeveloped, allowing the natural
ecosystem to flourish, and it is not uncommon for us to walk past shy spotted deer or catch sight of a few wild boar! Over several years, we’ve planted a careful distribution of indigenous trees, shrubs and grasses, ensuring adequate shelter within the lodge area for small mammals. We’ve dug several waterholes across the property to ensure that these species have reliably safe access to water.
Grey Water Recycling
We recycle our water through efficient and eco-friendly systems. Grey water from the cottges passes through filtration pits into lily ponds. A reed bed system filters grey water from our kitchens.
We use all our vegetable and food waste in composting along with dry leaves collected from inside the property. The compost enriches our garden soil and helps us produce the freshest herbs and vegetables in our small kitchen garden.
Responsible Waste Management
Garbage is segregated into paper, plastic, glass, metal and foil and sent to the nearby village for recycling and sold to the local kabadiwala.
Forsyth Lodge works on the principle that efforts to preserve wildlife and valuable habitats can succeed only with active participation of the surrounding communities. A good part of our effort focuses on the giving back and drawing in that this requires.
Benefitting Local Communities
We are currently creating a system of rewards for locals who reliably report wildlife activity in the buffer zone. This is one form of viable enlistment. Women from the nearby villages come in to cook for our guests once a week – an initiative begun to equip them with great catering skills that could be put to use in the future.
We continue to seed other forms of local entrepreneurship by sourcing many of our needs through local contacts. This ranges from food and supplies to taxi services between Forsyth Lodge and Bhopal Airport, and also for short hops. All the support staff at Forsyth Lodge are locals who’ve been carefully trained to work to international standards. Mindful of the fact that laws protecting habitats can take away livelihoods and pitchfork people into confrontation with policies, we have partnered with the forest department in training fishermen to work the boats and canoes,
and in training villagers to become trackers and, in the future, naturalists with English-speaking skills.
Creating New Revenue Streams
We explore new revenue streams for the locals, effectively utilizing their existing skills and helping them acquire new ones. We’ve partnered with Under The Mango Tree (UTMT), an NGO from Mumbai to train locals in beekeeping to improve the quality of produce of their sustainable crops. The sale of honey, in turn, represents a new source of income.
Organic Produce Pilot Project
Currently we source fresh vegetables from a village 20 kilometers away as villagers around the lodge do not grow their own produce yet. They believe they do not have adequate resources to begin organic farming and are reluctant to take it up.
We have begun a small pilot project in order to slowly change this notion by practical demonstration. We grow our own vegetables and herbs around the staff area to convince them that it is possible to do so with the resources at hand. It’s an uphill climb but we’ll get there!
As in most of rural India, the villages in the area have an orthodox mindset towards working women. We’re making efforts to change this by employing women at the lodge. We currently have part time employees who manage the upkeep of the premises, cook local food for the guests and even take care of the mud cottages after the rains and during the season with lipai.
Supporting the Government School
We support the Government School in Sarangpur village in several ways. With the contribution of our guests, we have been able to implement several improvements in the school infrastructure.
Over the years we have helped source essentials like tables, books, benches, clothing and more. Our naturalists have come forward to sponsor the pay of a substitute teacher — an arrangement that helped solve staffing problems at the time and employ a qualified local.
We believe in inculcating a sense of awareness and responsibility towards the environment at an early age. With this as the foundation, we have begun a Nature Club in the school where our naturalists educate the village children about local species and help them share our enthusiasm for wildlife. We augment this effort through nature walks and little trips to the park.
Forsyth Lodge is a member of Travel Operators for Tigers India (TOFT) which is a campaign to create a strongly responsible ethic in the conduct of wildlife tourism so that the benefits of tourism are harnessed for conservation and the negatives are minimised. TOFT operates an eco-audit certification programme called the PUG audit and Forsyth has been rated as OUTSTANDING – the highest rating.