Project Title

DOCC Project Report (2008-09)

I.

Prepare A Business Case For Involving Corporate Sector In Biodiversity Conservation Prepare A Business Plan For An Enterprise Established For Using Market Based Approaches To Achieve Biodiversity Conservation

II.

Applied Environmental Research Foundation, Pune
By: Nikhil Mirashi Deepti Gupta (PGP-08-046) (PGP-08-112)

S.P Jain Institute of Management & Research
Munshi Nagar, Dadabhai Road, Andheri West, Mumbai – 400 058, India

Preface
This report is a part of the Development of Corporate Citizenship (DOCC) projects of S.P.Jain Institute of Management and Research. DOCC works towards sensitization of future managers to social causes and establish a channel where future managers can contribute towards the non-profit sector. Each year PGP students, at the end of first year, undertake socially relevant projects for six weeks. These projects are in association with operating NGOs or some corporates. Such projects have been extremely valued in implementing new approaches to improve financial management, develop information systems, building brand equity of the organization and developing business plan to achieve overall organizational effectiveness. Applied Environmental Research Foundation (AERF) is a registered Non Government Organization based in Pune, India and is working in the field of community-based conservation. Founded in 1994, AERF has been trying to address the issue of biodiversity conservation at the grass roots level. It has developed approaches and models and is working to involve people, especially the local communities, in the cause of conservation. The organization is driven by passion and a commitment to conservation and believes in community based conservation or participatory conservation. Conservation has become the need of the hour. With development and modernization, deforestation has become rampant. This has led to large scale loss of bio-diversity which in turn, affects every living being. We ourselves are at the receiving end. Hence, we felt the need to work with an organization that addresses these issues and has considerable experience in the field. This way, we wish to make our contributions to the field of environmental conservation.

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Acknowledgement
We express our sincere thanks and gratitude to the institute for having a unique concept of DOCC to sensitize the management students about the social issues. It gave us the first opportunity to work for the conservation of the environment, to understand the psychology of working with an organization and to apply management principles in the unstructured environment. We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to Prof. Nirja Mattoo and Prof. Parimal Merchant for valuable guidance prior to commencement of the project and timely support during the tenure of the project. We are extremely grateful to Dr. Archana Godbole, Director AERF and Mr. Jayant Sarnaik, Joint Director AERF for granting us the opportunity to undertake the project and providing valuable insights and direction in understanding the importance of conservation and various activities. Finally we would like to thank all the staff members of AERF for guiding and supporting us during the research and without that support this project would never been a success.

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Table of Contents
Executive Summary......................................................................................................................................... 6 1. 2. Introduction ............................................................................................................................................ 7 Analysis of the Organisation ................................................................................................................... 9 2.1. 2.2. 3. 4. Swot Analysis .................................................................................................................................. 9 5 C Framework .............................................................................................................................. 10

Problem Description ............................................................................................................................. 11 Corporate Involvement Program .......................................................................................................... 12 4.1. 4.2. 4.2.1. 4.2.2. 4.2.3. 4.2.4. 4.2.5. a) b) c) d) e) f) 4.3. 4.4 Scope of the project ...................................................................................................................... 12 Business Case ................................................................................................................................ 12 Understanding Biodiversity and How It Is Being Impacted ...................................................... 13 Effects of Depleted Biodiversity ................................................................................................ 13 Efforts Being Made Around the World ..................................................................................... 14 Why Should Corporate Be Involved? ........................................................................................ 15 How Can They Contribute and Get Associated With AERF? ..................................................... 15 Biodiversity assessment ................................................................................................................ 15 Sponsor a forest ............................................................................................................................ 15 Sponsor a customized project....................................................................................................... 16 Partner with a project ................................................................................................................... 16 Environmental impact assessment ............................................................................................... 16 Ecological footprint assessment ................................................................................................... 16 Implementation ............................................................................................................................ 17 Recommended Future Action for Implementation of the Project ............................................... 18

5.

Nature Connect ..................................................................................................................................... 19 5.1. 5.2. 5.3. 5.4. 5.5. 5.6. Description .................................................................................................................................... 19 The Business Overview ................................................................................................................. 20 The Location .................................................................................................................................. 20 Objectives...................................................................................................................................... 21 Activities at the Site ...................................................................................................................... 21 Activities Off-Site .......................................................................................................................... 21 4|Page

5.7. 5.8. 5.9. 5.10. 5.11. 5.12. 5.13. 6.

Target Customers .......................................................................................................................... 22 Selling the Concept ....................................................................................................................... 22 Competition .................................................................................................................................. 23 Marketing Plan .......................................................................................................................... 23 Sources of Revenues ................................................................................................................. 24 Analyzing the Sustainability of the Concept – Porter’s 5 Forces Framework ........................... 25 Future Work to Be Done ........................................................................................................... 26

Findings and Recommendations ........................................................................................................... 27 6.1. 6.2. Visibility in corporate World ......................................................................................................... 27 Lacking Labour Force & Involving people in conservation activities ............................................ 27

Conclusion ..................................................................................................................................................... 29 Training Need Assessment for AERF ............................................................................................................. 30 Communication Skills for effective resource mobilisation ....................................................................... 30 Resource Planning & Utilization................................................................................................................ 30 Negotiation Tactics Training ..................................................................................................................... 30 Project Management training for Program Coordinators ........................................................................ 30 Annexures ..................................................................................................................................................... 31 References .................................................................................................................................................... 45

Table of Figures
Figure 1: Milestones of the Business Case ..................................................................................... 12 Figure 2: Milestones for Implementation ....................................................................................... 17

Table of Annexures
Annexure 1: List of Companies Contacted .................................................................................................... 31 Annexure 2: Database of the Companies Contacted .................................................................................... 32 Annexure 3: Presentation for Corporates..................................................................................................... 33 Annexure 4: Key Activities for Nature Connect ............................................................................................ 43 Annexure 5: Cost Centers ............................................................................................................................. 44

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Executive Summary
“India occupies only 2.4 % of the earth’s landmass but has over 8 % of the world’s known wildlife.” The Concern for Eco-conservation

Since ages, nature worship and the conservation ethics have been an inseparable part of Indian thought and traditions. Traces go back to ancient civilizations of India, when people used to nurture the philosophy of the oneness of life. The Indian tradition has always taught that, humankind is a part of nature and one should look upon all creation with the eyes of a love and respect. It is tragic that since last few decades, the mad quest for the material end and economical progress in India and abroad has become identical with the exploitation of nature in all its appearances. Today, the entire world is facing a deep crisis and is in the danger of being doomed. The rich forest areas and biological diversities have been relentlessly divested to erect concrete walls. The continuous denuding of forest reserves has led to Global Warming and Greenhouse Effects. Fortunately, this has led to some realization, and now the world has awoken for new beginnings about human responsibility towards nature.
Objectives

AERF aims at creating a link between conservation research and its actual use in the practices of sustainable development. AERF believes that establishing this link would aid, not only ecosystem development, but also efforts in poverty alleviation. AERF aims to maintain a balance between conservation of valuable biodiversity, forests, ecosystems and use of natural resources for the development of people. The main objective is to maintain biodiversity and try to involve as many stakeholders as possible including corporates, institutes, researchers, environmentalists, students and the common man in conservation activities.
The Project

Conservation activities are expensive and require some assured sources of funding. AERF has good conservation initiatives and projects but they lack funds to implement these effectively. They are always in need for support to keep their efforts going and work towards a long-term solution for the challenges at hand. As management an intern, our aim was to develop a business plan for rural eco-tourism enterprise and contribute in spreading AERF's work effectively among the funding agencies and corporate world. Two activities we undertook as a part of the project were Corporate Involvement Programme and Nature Connect. The former is an effort to involve as many corporates in conservation activities by aiding and guiding them in their CSR activities and acquiring funding. Nature Connect is planned to be a profit-making organization that undertakes eco-tourism in an innovative manner. The enterprise does not aim only for tourism. Instead, it aims at involving tourists and locals in the conservation process. We hope that our work will help in significantly contributing towards the objectives and goals of the organization and making the world a better place to live.

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1. Introduction
Applied Environmental Research Foundation (AERF) is a registered Non Governmental Organization based in Pune, India and is working in the field of community based conservation. Founded in 1994, AERF has been trying to address the issue of biodiversity conservation at the grass roots level. It has developed approaches and models and is working to involve people, especially the local communities, in the cause of conservation. The organization is driven by passion and a commitment to conservation and believes in community based conservation or participatory conservation AERF aims to maintain a balance between conservation of valuable biodiversity, forests, ecosystems and use of natural resources for the development of people. AERF is engaged in creating a link between research in the field of conservation and its actual use in action for conservation on the ground. AERF believes in establishing this link between research and its effective use in the process of development for poverty alleviation; sustainable resource use and ecosystem development. The two people who play a key role in the organization are Dr. Archana Godbole and Mr. Jayant Sarnaik. Dr. Archana Godbole, the founder Director of AERF has more than 15 years of experience in the field of conservation and natural resource management. She was recently awarded the Whitley Associate Award to scale up restoration in 10 priority new sites. Under her able guidance, AERF has completed a number of research and implementation projects, contributing to the objectives of AERF and to the process of sustainable development. Mr. Jayant Sarnaik, an innovative Enviropreneur and conservation practitioner has over 13 years of experience in project concept formulation, detailed project preparation, fund raising, and planning, facilitation and capacity building for various participatory conservation related projects. He is a member of The International Society of Electrochemistry and the co founder and deputy Director of AERF. He has special liking for community based projects in medicinal plants and renewable energy and has a rich experience in developing project ideas that work at the grassroots level. Mr. Sarnaik has received the Conservation and Sustainability fellowship from Alcoa Foundation, USA. AERF has been expanding its scope of work and interests by dwelling into pure research based projects that are funded by international foundations. It is also undertaking organized
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development and livelihood based projects such as the widely publicized World Bank (GVEP) funded program on the development of decentralized bio-fuel centres in Raigad district of Maharashtra. AERF goes beyond research to find practical ways in eco-conservation and community development. AERF takes a scientific approach to conservation, based on analysis of what is needed to ensure the preservation of the local plants, animals, and ecosystems. AERF believes in community based conservation or participatory conservation which implies involving people in the process of conservation. AERF operates through a strong network of organizations. Some of the organizations with which AERF has collaborated in the past are: Misereor Germany, Earth Love Fund UK, UNESCO, IPGRI, GTZ, Plant Life International, Govt. of India - Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. of India - Ministry of non conventional energy sources, British Ecological society, Rufford Small Grant, Conservation Leadership Programme, Global village energy partnership (GVEP), Dorab Tata Trust, Winrock International India and IDRC. AERF has also seen corporate participation by Lab India and Suzlon Ltd. AERF also has links with educational institutes like Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay. Key Projects Undertaken: Decentralized Bio-diesel Resource centres Village Electrification Program Eco-restoration of Sacred Groves Revival of Traditional Conservation practices The Great Hornbill Project Medicinal Plants and Livelihood Biodiversity Act Awareness Program

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2. Analysis of the Organisation
2.1. Swot Analysis

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2.2.

5 C Framework

Climate/Context Biodiversity is the life support system for our planet. There are more than six billion people and the world is heading for eight or nine billion by 2050. Their livelihoods depend on our planet‟s biodiversity, in the form of ecosystems, species and genetic material. There may be differences of opinion about the rate of loss, but there is no doubt that ecosystems, species and genes are being lost or damaged faster than ever before. Such a loss undermines the natural richness of our planet and threatens our future sustainability. Therefore it is utmost important to acknowledges for business and society in general to share responsibility for the current deteriorating situation as well as for solutions to improve it. Businesses can play a positive role in biodiversity conservation. The good news is that there is a strong business case for integrating biodiversity considerations into core management systems. The bad news is that, to date, not enough companies have done so. AERF aims at bridging this gap and promoting conservation.

Company The Foundation aims to address the biological diversity loss of a region by building sustainable development models that would also benefit the areas‟ local populace. AERF believes in community-based conservation or participatory conservation that implies involving people in the process of conservation.

Collaborator AERF operates through a strong network of organizations. Some of the organizations the Foundation has collaborated with in the past include: UNESCO, British Ecological Society, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), the Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources, Misereor Germany, Earth Love Fund UK, IPGRI, GTZ, Plant Life International, Rufford Small Grant, Conservation Leadership Programme, Global Village Energy Partnership (GVEP), Dorabji Tata Trust, Winrock International India and IDRC. . AERF also has links with educational institutes like S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay.
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Customer Being a NGO, AERF does not have any customers as such. However, there are many institutes, organisations, individuals etc. that might be called as customers. Many corporates take assistance from AERF for their CSR activities. Many students from various institutes undertake internships at AERF. Thus, opportunities to participate in the work are available for researchers, students, volunteers and corporate employees.

Competitors In the world of NGOs, competition is not something like that in the business world since there is no market share capturing etc. But, other NGOs that carry out work in similar area of conservation can be said to be competitors. e.g.- Gurukula Sanctuary, Equations, ATREE

3. Problem Description
Conservation activities are expensive and require some assured sources of funding. AERF has good conservation initiatives and projects but they lack funds to implement these effectively. They are always in need for support to keep their efforts going and work towards a long-term solution for the challenges at hand. As management interns, our aim will be to develop business plan for rural eco-tourism enterprise and contribute in spreading AERF's work effectively among the funding agencies and corporate world. Following two programs were undertaken as a part of our project  Corporate Involvement Programme Nature Connect

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4. Corporate Involvement Program
AERF has been working on conserving biodiversity for more than 14 years. Although their work has received worldwide acclaim and many prestigious international awards, they have scarcely been able to get the message across to the general population, especially the corporate sector, without whose participation, any conservation initiative would be incomplete.

4.1.

Scope of the project

There was a need to develop a business case for involving corporate sector for the following reasons:  In the current context of rapid growth of the Indian economy, some companies are causing an irreversible damage to the environment. It is imperative to sensitize these companies, to reduce the environmental impact, as also to create biodiversity offsets for the damage that they have caused.  The NGO needs funds and industrial assistance to carry out its operations. Through the marketing strategy, efforts will be made to get a company involved through a CSR initiative.

4.2.

Business Case

Figure 1: Milestones of the Business Case

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4.2.1. Understanding Biodiversity and How It Is Being Impacted
Biodiversity can be defined as “the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems”. It is the life support system for our planet. Put simply, biodiversity is „life on earth‟. At a fundamental level, all economies and all businesses depend, directly or indirectly, on biodiversity and its component resources. There are more than six billion people and the world is heading for eight or nine billion by 2050. Their livelihoods depend on our planet‟s biodiversity, in the form of ecosystems, species and genetic material. There may be differences of opinion about the rate of loss, but there is no doubt that ecosystems, species and genes are being lost or damaged faster than ever before. The impacts of the industry on biodiversity can be classified as primary (resulting directly from project activities, and typically limited to the immediate project area), or secondary (indirect impacts triggered by the project‟s presence e.g. inward migration). They can be avoided by the design or location of operations or mitigated where they cannot be avoided. Reports suggest that the current pace of species loss is up to 1,000 times higher than the background rates typical over the earth‟s history.

4.2.2. Effects of Depleted Biodiversity
The loss of Bio-diversity undermines the natural richness of our planet and threatens our future sustainability. On the one hand, diminishing biodiversity, and on the other, expanding economies. The two phenomena are not unrelated. Modern economies are very good at producing what people will pay for. They are not so good at preserving what is priceless. Much of the ongoing loss of biodiversity can be attributed, directly or indirectly, to the production and consumption of goods and services to meet human needs. The growing problem of climate change will further exacerbate biodiversity loss. There are various environmental challenges facing society today, which include climate change, biodiversity loss, increasing water scarcity, and nutrient deposition.

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4.2.3. Efforts Being Made Around the World
Business is all about survival. In order to survive, businesses need to generate profits. But today, many businesses have recognized that long-term sustainable development requires good environmental performance and good social performance as well. Around the world, companies are taking pride in turning green. Even energy majors like Chevron and Shell have made conservation the central theme in their external communication. Our own Tata group companies are ahead in Indian corporate sector e.g. partnership of Tata Steel and IUCN at Dharma port in Orissa for turtle conservation , Tata Powers saving biodiversity of northern western Ghats at Mulshi, and beautiful lakes and bird sanctuary. HSBC- HSBC‟s five-year environmental programme, „Investing in Nature‟, concluded in 2006. The US$50 million eco-partnership between HSBC and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), Earthwatch Institute and WWF protected, managed or restored more than three million hectares of habitat, conserved or protected over 14,500 plant and animal species, and improved the livelihoods of some 140,000 people. In total, 2,000 HSBC employees went to work with Earthwatch on 103 conservation projects worldwide. G20- The world leaders in the G20 meeting on 2nd April 2009 agreed that the economic recovery must be inclusive, green and sustainable. They promised to “make the transition towards clean, innovative, resource efficient, low carbon technologies and infrastructure”. The leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to address the looming threat of irreversible climate change and agreed on stabilizing atmospheric greenhouse gas levels to less than 350 parts per million. Dharma Port- The Dharma Port project in Orissa has its proximity to vulnerable Olive Ridley turtle nesting grounds. Dharma Port Company Ltd (DPCL), a joint venture between TATA Steel and Larsen and Toubro (L&T) on mitigation strategies has taken up this project with IUCN. Measures like use of turtle protective deflectors on dredgers and on lighting techniques to reduce sky glow that can confuse newborn turtles are being implemented. Shell- Shell‟s collaboration with IUCN on bio-fuels tools has helped in making these tools relevant to the oil and gas industry. It is ensuring that standards and criteria are robust and that the tools are adopted quickly by bio fuel producers and buyers. In this way the bio fuels marketplace is being influenced directly.
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4.2.4. Why Should Corporate Be Involved?
From a business perspective, the reasons to invest in biodiversity business are increasingly compelling. They are most obvious in cases where private profitability depends directly on the health of ecosystems – ecotourism ventures, for instance. Similarly, it is now recognized that greater variability in genes, species and ecosystems is associated with increased resilience and biological productivity in agriculture, ranching, forestry and marine fisheries. Even businesses in urban areas, lacking a direct interaction with the natural world, can be motivated by new policy incentives and changing consumer preferences to „go green‟. Corporate action on biodiversity can help businesses distinguish themselves from competitors while also improving relations with investors, employees, local communities and others.

4.2.5. How Can They Contribute and Get Associated With AERF?
To assist companies in this direction, AERF has come-up with the Corporate Conservation Programme (CCP). The unique feature of the programme is that it can be customized to the needs of companies in different sectors. This is done by using the strong research base that AERF possesses. Conservation on the ground is the hallmark of this programme which engages local communities. Companies can get involved in CCP through a combination of the following popular initiatives. Since the programme can be tailor made to suit a particular company and an industry, AERF can offer customized solutions, outside the scope outlined below, to a company to transform a conservation initiative into a competitive advantage.
a) Biodiversity assessment

Private sector companies own properties in form lands, forests, habitats such as lakes and campus. These companies however are not aware of the status of vegetation at these places. Biodiversity assessment is a tool to make them understand the diversity present at such locations. This assessment could also serve as decision support tool for reducing the impact of the company through future projects.
b) Sponsor a forest

This is a new program launched by AERF. Through this program, AERF is approaching public at large (including corporate) to adopt a patch of forests by making investments. For corporate, it could easily be considered as biodiversity offset, in case the companies have already made significant impact on biodiversity through their operations.
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c) Sponsor a customized project

AERF has been engaged in participatory biodiversity conservation for more than a decade. AERF has developed various projects for conserving biodiversity which do not necessarily get funding, Thus by supporting these projects , corporates can contribute to biodiversity conservation OR they can support activities such as creation of biodiversity park, wetlands or grasslands in their campus such projects could be designed and implemented as per their requirement.
d) Partner with a project

As mentioned earlier, by supporting any of the initiatives that require financial support and have biodiversity conservation as main objective, corporates could be involved in biodiversity conservation. For example - we have a project which deals in finding and protecting nests of Great Hornbill - a charismatic bird and important player in regeneration of rare trees and thus forests in Western Ghats. The corporates can support campaign for finding the nests in rural areas of India and ensure visibility to its business objectives. There are many other such projects where corporates can be involved.
e) Environmental impact assessment

This is almost an obligatory activity for a company having large carbon footprint. Through such assessment, data is collected about the impact the company operations are making on environment in general and on forests, water or air in specific. Only after knowing the impact of its operation, a proper strategy for mitigating it can be designed.
f) Ecological footprint assessment

This is a new jargon but highly in vogue now and relates again to impact of the company activities on environment. Calculation of carbon emissions, loss of species and habitats are the major indicators of such assessments. This assessment is imperative in order to decide the scale and method of environmental offset.

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4.3.

Implementation

Figure 2: Milestones for Implementation

In order to involve the corporate from different sectors a comprehensive business case was made. To start with the implementation process Corporate from different sectors like mining, construction, manufacturing etc. across the country were searched and contacted. (Refer Annexure 1 & 2) The study of their Corporate Social responsibility activities gave an overview of the extent of involvement these corporate had in the field of Biodiversity conservation. An initial mail was sent to all the identified corporate to introduce AERF and the program to them. To provide the corporate with the overview of the business case a presentation giving the details about the concept of biodiversity conservation, harmful effects on biodiversity due to industrial activities, measures taken around the globe to conserve biodiversity and ways through which corporate can be a part of the conservation program was made (Refer Annexure 3). After a telephonic conversation with the CSR head of these companies the presentation was forwarded along with the introduction of the key stakeholders of AERF.

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4.4
-

Recommended Future Action for Implementation of the Project
Post the brochures of AERF to the corporate for future correspondence. Call up the corporate and fix up a one to one meeting in order to take the conversation to the next stage

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5. Nature Connect
AERF is a registered non-profit organisation. However, conservation is an expensive task and a sure and sustainable source of cash flow is necessary. Nature Connect has been specially planned to avoid the impact of restrictions and bindings of non-profit organisations. It is to be a separately floated independent company managed by AERF.

5.1.

Description

„Nature Connect‟ is a company or enterprise aimed at conserving the environment and maintaining bio-diversity via ecotourism, people‟s and corporate participation. In Nature Connect, we plan to create an eco-tourism venture at Dapoli in Ratnagiri district. The eco-tourism aims at involving any people interested in undergoing training in Field Ecology and Conservation Biology Course and further contributing to the cause of environmental conservation. It is planned to invite experts from famous institutes abroad like DICE to impart the courses. In addition, the enterprise aims to impart knowledge through practical exposure to environmental benefits. AERF owns 14 acres of forested land rich in bio-diversity and this is the most important asset that it can utilize to generate revenue. It is important to make people understand the actual problems facing the environment and convey to them the seriousness of the issue. To serve this purpose, it is vital to create a perfect framework for the activities in Nature Connect and to promote it to attract maximum participation from interested people. The enterprise does not aim only for tourism. Instead, it aims at involving tourists and locals in the conservation process. There are many possible ways that ecotourism contributes to conservation. First, ecotourism can generate funds for protected areas. Second, it can create employment for surrounding communities, thus providing economic incentives to support protected areas. Third, it can advance environmental education for visitors. Finally, ecotourism programs aim to limit the negative impacts of nature tourists.

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5.2.

The Business Overview

Applied Environmental Research Foundation (AERF) owns some 14 acres of land in Dapoli, Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. Via Nature Connect, we plan to create an eco-tourism venture at Dapoli. Besides normal tourism, this eco-tourism aims at involving any people interested in undergoing training in Field Ecology and Conservation Biology Course and further contributing to the cause of environmental conservation. It is planned to invite experts from famous institutes abroad like DICE to impart the courses. In addition, the enterprise aims to impart knowledge through practical exposure to environmental benefits. AERF owns 14 acres of forested land rich in bio-diversity and this is the most important asset that it can utilize to generate revenue. It is important to make people understand the actual problems facing the environment and convey to them the seriousness of the issue.

5.3.

The Location

Dapoli is a pleasant town situated at a height of about 800 feet above sea level in Ratnagiri district, Konkan on the west coast of Maharashtra, India. It is blessed with abundant natural beauty and enjoys a cool climate throughout the year. Surrounded by hills and forests and having a long coastline, this is a home for a variety of migratory birds and animals. There are plenty of cashew nut, jackfruit, coconut and betel nut plantations. Known as “Mahabaleshwar of Konkan”, this is a great place to spend the holidays along with family away from the busy, hectic city life. Despite the increase in tourism, Konkan beaches have managed to remain untouched and unspoiled. They are amongst the cleanest ones on the entire west coast of India. Nature lovers can indulge themselves in exploring the hiking trails in the nearby jungles. One can also visit the ancient temples, forts, caves and hot springs nearby. If one plans to make a trip during summer vacations, one should make it sure to feast on Dapoli‟s famous Alphonso (Hapus) mangoes. Dapoli is just a couple of hours drive from Mumbai or Pune making it an ideal weekend getaway.

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5.4.

Objectives

To protect Dapoli‟s unique national biodiversity status, preserving the diversity of rare and endangered species and their habitats.

To offer a high standard research facility for ongoing ecological research, and contributing to a global understanding of our natural environment.

To develop Dapoli as an education centre, helping visitors to be aware of and appreciate the beauty and value of this national heritage.

To ensure that maximum profits are funnelled back to the communities who claim ancestral ownership of Dapoli forests, benefiting community development.

5.5.

Activities at the Site

To cater to the variety of customers, some of the proposed activities at the site of the resort are as follows   Guided Nature hikes Bird watching, wild life viewing if any Interaction with Field Biologists. Tourists may have an opportunity to discover more on conservation issues with researchers on site. Depending on scientists‟ schedules, tourists may be able to help collect data and experience a more intimate relationship with the wildlife.  Canopy walkway

5.6.

Activities Off-Site

We also plan to have off-site activities and events for members throughout the year    T-shirts, mugs, conservation kits, calendars, photo-frames for members Newsletters, magazines, Guidebook encouraging advertisements Events, discussions and conferences with experts, interested, environmentalists

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5.7.

Target Customers

Based on various sectors and implementing differential pricing, we plan to have different types of memberships     Students (1-2 day educational trip, projects, internships) Family (2-4 days vacation and leisure amidst nature) Researchers, environmentalists (study and conservation work, long duration) Corporates (group activities, team-building outward bound exercises, CSR) Foreigners (any of the above)

5.8.

Selling the Concept

Nature Connect is a unique concept in its way that it is not a plain tourism enterprise. It is much more than that. It provides     A nice family vacation for the week-end amidst nature and away from the daily hustle and bustle of urban life An opportunity to explore nature and its elements; to watch the real jungles, various plantations, pollination causing birds; Group trips and team building ventures for corporates A nice little adventure camp for kids during the vacation to sensitize them towards conservation issues and gain exposure to elements of nature (involving bird watching, nature hikes, visit to nearby beach etc.)    A place for CSR to guide its energies in the perfect direction A destination for people really committed towards environmental conservation; who want to learn and contribute Chance for corporates to advertise through newsletters or allowing use of their brand, logo etc. to the venture, in short, a nice brand-building opportunity for them to project themselves as a conscious organisation  An attractive alternative to logging, providing source of cash flow for local residents as well as for AERF

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5.9.

Competition

Nature Connect as a venture is unique and is considerably distinct from so many other initiatives. Yet, every enterprise has to analyse its competition.  Gurukula Sanctuary  Equations  ATREE

5.10. Marketing Plan
We plan to adopt various marketing strategies which are enlisted below       We will market the company through MTDC, local tourism companies, yellow pages etc. Development of the website for Nature Connect is the most crucial tool for marketing today. Creating awareness through newspapers and magazines by writing articles and giving advertisements. Association with a renowned company can help to promote the concept very effectively. We shall develop a media strategy for the company to sensitise the services and activities of the company. Similarly we shall participate in local, National and international trade fairs. We shall develop a call back or email contact for our client or contact with potential clients. We shall develop brochures and posters to be distributed at strategic tourist points and during major events.

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5.11. Sources of Revenues
Fee Type Entrance fees Admission fees User fees Description Allows access to points beyond the entry gate. Collected for use of a facility or special activity, e.g., museum or photography class. Fees paid by visitors to use facilities within the protected area, e.g., parking, camping, visitor centres, boat use, shelter use, etc. Licenses & Permits For private tourism firms to operate on protected area property, e.g., tour operators, guides, transport providers and other users. Royalties and sales revenue Concession fees Charges or revenue shares paid by concessionaires that provide services to protected area visitors, e.g., souvenir shops. Leases and rent fees Voluntary donations Charges for renting or leasing park property or equipment. Includes cash, „in-kind‟ gifts and labor, often received through „friends of the park‟ groups. Monies from sales of souvenirs.

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5.12. Analyzing the Sustainability of the Concept – Porter’s 5 Forces Framework
Competitive Rivalry Competition amongst various eco-tourism ventures is not as aggressive as in other business areas since eco-tourism, as an industry, has not established itself. Differentiation exists between different ventures due to the diversity in local natural resources, culture, climate and landscapes. The Threat of Entry The ease of entering into the eco-tourism industry is very low. For eco-tourism initiatives, it is necessary to have vast land resource, especially land within the proximity of nature, forests and rich in bio-diversity. Also, ecotourism has to comply with certain government and environmental regulations. It requires heavy capital investment and lot of strategic planning. There is a very little scope for differentiation since many eco-tourism ventures exist. The Power of Buyers The power of buyers is relatively high in eco-tourism since currently very few people are interested in going for eco-tourism instead of regular tourism. The level of awareness is slowly increasing but eco-tourism hasn‟t really established itself as a mainstream tourism option. Thus, due to the low number of customers present, it is important to cater to them for ensuring sustainability. So far, ecotourism has been restricted to only the conservation enthusiasts and environmentalists. The Threat of Substitutes The threat of substitutes is very high since many eco-tourism ventures exist. Most of them have the same set of activities or services to offer and thus, customers have a wide range to switch to. The Power of Suppliers As of now no suppliers are involved in the conception of the „Nature Connect‟. Hence the risk of greater supplier power and it‟s impacts on this organisation is low. There might be some service providers for catering services, transport and telecommunications, but their impact on the organisation are considered to be insignificant.

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5.13. Future Work to Be Done
Following work items have been suggested as activities to be done for Nature Connect      Fine tuning the b-plan Accurate estimation of various costs, expenses and resources required to set-up the venture Valuation of present assets such as land, human resources etc. Preparing a strong revenue model for Nature Connect by variable pricing for different customer groups, members etc. Effective marketing and presenting of the proposal to garner lot of financial support Actual work at the site

[Estimation of key activities and cost-centres has been included in Annexure 4 and Annexure 5 respectively]

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6. Findings and Recommendations
6.1. Visibility in corporate World

Problem- The visibility of the organisation is poor. Despite a 14-year presence in the conservation field, AERF fails to ring a bell as a premier organisation in the field. We recommend that AERF needs to go for strong brand building to increase its visibility and reputation as a leading ecoorganisation. This will also help to garner support from corporates, funding agencies and involvement from the people. Solution- It is also suggested that the company should focus towards creating visibility first in areas in and around Pune. For this they can get associated with local TV channels and ask them to contribute not in monetary terms, but by providing free television advertisement. They can also target local magazines and newspapers to contribute by providing space for advertising and publicity.

6.2.

Lacking Labour Force & Involving people in conservation activities

Problem- The organisation also faces issue of limited resources in terms of manpower. In order to involve more of corporate as well as general public in conservation activities, there needs to be a dedicated resource working only towards developing these relations as well as marketing strategies for AERF. This is required as such associations are not a work of a day but may even take several months to even a year for conversations to become fruitful. Generally people have a belief that conservation practices are to be followed by the NGOs and government. There is a need to sensitize and motivate people towards conservation so that they actively participate on the ground. This is important to have sustainable efforts. Solution – Active participation from students can be achieved by communication through posters and events organised at school level. This will help students know about the organisation and volunteer during their vacations or take up a part time work. Many retired people wish to keep themselves busy in social work and AERF could be an ideal way for them to channelize their energies.

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AERF should also involve in events conducted at local level during days like Earth Day, World Environment Day and other such awareness campaigns. Presence at various conferences, exhibitions, fairs etc. is another way to improve public exposure. Thus, the organisation needs to move from its belief that work speaks for itself and understand that things will start moving speedily only after creating an image in the society as people want to get associated with big and famous institutions.

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Conclusion
This 6 weeks of DOCC project have definitely brought forth an opportunity to work in a unique environment leaving us with new experiences and learning. The challenges encountered and hardships faced really served as the learning experience during the entire tenure. We specifically worked on two of the programmes of the organisation – Corporate Involvement Programme and Nature Connect. On one hand, this project was an opportunity in hand for testing the effectiveness of theoretical models, on the other, contributions by us opened newer avenues for the organisation to involve corporate and community in conservation activities. The business cases developed by us would definitely help the organisation to effectively get the involvement of corporates in eco-conservation and ensure that they get sustainable funding for their future endeavours. A small database of companies was created which can help the NGO to establish strong associations in the future. The concept of Nature Connect can help the NGO to have a sure source of cash flows which can be ploughed back into their projects. Research and studies carried out during the project helped us in chalking out effective suggestions for improvement. We established the foundation on which the organisation needs to work upon on long term basis to generate substantial results. AERF is a small organisation and an NGO of such a stature does need support from corporate and community along with specific funding for different projects. This calls for ample focus on public relations and brand-building to achieve visibility and resources. Collaborating with SPJIMR under the DOCC programme is one of the steps towards improvement. On one hand, it gives a chance to the organisation to analyse upon its current situation from a manager‟s perspective while on the other, it helps students in learning new skills, working in an unstructured environment and sensitizing the future managers about social issues.

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Training Need Assessment for AERF
Communication Skills for effective resource mobilisation
This training is particularly very important for the members of this organisation as the way they communicate and present themselves in front of corporates is important for getting a positive response from companies. Also, it will help them to sensitize people and hence channelize human resources towards these efforts.

Resource Planning & Utilization
There is a need for NGO to assess the capabilities and capacities of available resources and utilize them most efficiently. This training will help them understand it and also plan their activities in a more organised manner.

Negotiation Tactics Training
The NGO needs it‟s funding thru the Corporate Involvement Program. This requires its members to interact, communicate and negotiate with the corporate world. Hence, its is of importance for them to learn and understand various tactics used while negotiations. This will help them in striking a better deal.

Project Management training for Program Coordinators
Project Management training will provide the members of the NGO with a perspective to understand about the conflicts and issues of establishing coordination between various departments. It will also equip them with tools that will be useful while implementing and giving shape to the Business Plan for „Nature Connect‟.

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Annexures Annexure 1: List of Companies Contacted

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Annexure 2: Database of the Companies Contacted

Contacts.xls

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Annexure 3: Presentation for Corporates

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Annexure 4: Key Activities for Nature Connect
Key Activities for Nature Connect
Nature Hikes - determining the path, trail - developing the path and making it usable - constructing sign boards, resting places, facilities for food-drink along the path - Bird watching, botanical study etc, specialised activities can be organised for the interested ones - Signboards, info-tablets describing various flora - setting up good sight-seeing points , encouraging commercial as well as nature photography, souvenir stalls, refreshments at such points Research and education - foreigners who would like to explore, study and carry out research about our forests, geography, flora-fauna etc - special interactions with eminent biologists, environmentalists etc. can be arranged for interested - Open air natural classrooms( e.g.: under a huge banyan tree or in a clearing of the forest), or educational trips to study the species - Some facility of laboratory to enable research, experimentation - green house Vacationers - Facility to relax amidst nature, away from hustle-bustle of urban life - enjoy local cuisine and culture - idea of green inns or forest resorts,i.e., staying in accomodation made of completely natural materials - innovative tree homes/restaurants and canopy walk-way to roam around the forest - orchestra, dance-drama by locals- a source of livelihood and exposure for the rural inhabitants - Organising trips to nearby beaches, sacred groves, religious places etc. as an added attraction Students - Many want to contribute towards conservation but don't know how - An opportunity to carry out internships, projects and thereby harnessing the young man-power for eco-conservation - Designing courses useful for students at that level Membership - T-shirts, mugs, conservation kits, calendars, photo-frames for members - Newsletters, magazines, Guidebook encouraging advertisements - Events, discussions and conferences with experts, interested, environmentalists - Special discounts on long-term member ships Campus - Admin / office - Kitchen/canteen - Guest-rooms/accomodation with sanitation facilities - Storage room - Classrooms, conference/discussion room - Power house/generator room, internet server room if needed Other activities - Library facility with good books, articles, journals, reference stuff, videos, cds etc. - An additional attraction for the youth could be to organise some beach games, water sports, trekking, camping (because such ventures have the potential to earn higher margins which can be plowed back to the main business) - Green buildings cost 4-10% more than normal ones, but have lower running costs; they can also earn carbon credits

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Annexure 5: Cost Centers

NATURE CONNECT COST CENTRES
Item Details Estimated Man-power required 4 6-8 1-2 20-25 Admin office guest-house/lodging for 30 people Sanitation Campus development/landscape planning Canteen/kitchen

Comments

Survey Land Development Architecture/Planning Construction and building (green buildings)

A contractor and his team may provide for the services

Legal Infrastructure IT infra- equipment/printers/internet etc. Electricity Water supply Stationery/office supplies Kitchen supplies Material required for guests House-keeping supplies Work related supplies Site in-charge / head Deputy heads Secretary/help desk Peons/clerks/admin help Cleaners/general servicemen Gardeners Kitchen staff Consultant Local guides Horticulturist/conservation-environmental experts PR Advertising Accountant Treasurer/book-keeper Printing Transport Telecommunication

Management/Administration

Labour/Work force

Actual work related

1 2-3 2-3 3-4 5-6 2 10-12 1-2 2 2

Marketing Finance Other

1 1

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References
1. Ecotourism Development – A Manual for Conservation Planners and Managers, Volume 1: An Introduction to Ecotourism Planning by The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia, USA. 2. Ecotourism Development – A Manual for Conservation Planners and Managers, Volume 2: The Business of Ecotourism - Development and Management by The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia, USA. 3. FACET Business Plan for 2003-2008 by Forum Advocating Cultural & Ecotourism Inc. 4. Ecotourism as a Market based Conservation Scheme by EQUATIONS 5. Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Business Plan by Environmental Foundation for Africa 6. IUCN - Transforming business risks into conservation opportunities; Business and Biodiversity Programme, Annual Report 2006 7. IUCN - Building Biodiversity Business; Joshua Bishop, Sachin Kapila, Frank Hicks, Paul Mitchell and Francis Vorhies, 2008. 8. Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services – „Bloom or Bust?‟ A Document of the UNEP FI Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services Work Stream (BESW), March 2008. 9. Biodiversity Indicators for National Use - Experience and Guidance; A Document of UNEP. 10. The Turks & Caicos Tourist Board, Salt Cay, Green Island http://www.caribbeanlogue.com/turks-caicos-beautiful-by-nature-ecotourism-initiatives.html 11. WBFDC‟s eco-tourism initiatives in West Bengal http://www.expresstravelworld.com/200611/market11.shtml 12. Conservation International http://www.conservation.org/learn/ecotourism/Pages/projects.aspx 13. Kerala eco-tourism - http://www.hindu.com/2006/07/07/stories/2006070721850500.htm 14. Ecuador eco-tourism - http://www.progresoverde.org/ecotourism.html 15. Membership based ecotourism - http://www.planeta.com/planeta/00/0004ecotourism.html

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