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Project Title

DOCC Project I. Prepare A Business Case For Involving Corporate Sector
In Biodiversity Conservation
Report
(2008-09) II. Prepare A Business Plan For An Enterprise Established
For Using Market Based Approaches To Achieve
Biodiversity Conservation

Applied Environmental Research Foundation, Pune

By:

Nikhil Mirashi (PGP-08-046)
Deepti Gupta (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. Introduction ............................................................................................................................................ 7
2. Analysis of the Organisation ................................................................................................................... 9
2.1. Swot Analysis .................................................................................................................................. 9
2.2. 5 C Framework .............................................................................................................................. 10
3. Problem Description ............................................................................................................................. 11
4. Corporate Involvement Program .......................................................................................................... 12
4.1. Scope of the project ...................................................................................................................... 12
4.2. Business Case ................................................................................................................................ 12
4.2.1. Understanding Biodiversity and How It Is Being Impacted ...................................................... 13
4.2.2. Effects of Depleted Biodiversity ................................................................................................ 13
4.2.3. Efforts Being Made Around the World ..................................................................................... 14
4.2.4. Why Should Corporate Be Involved? ........................................................................................ 15
4.2.5. How Can They Contribute and Get Associated With AERF? ..................................................... 15
a) Biodiversity assessment ................................................................................................................ 15
b) Sponsor a forest ............................................................................................................................ 15
c) Sponsor a customized project....................................................................................................... 16
d) Partner with a project ................................................................................................................... 16
e) Environmental impact assessment ............................................................................................... 16
f) Ecological footprint assessment ................................................................................................... 16
4.3. Implementation ............................................................................................................................ 17
4.4 Recommended Future Action for Implementation of the Project ............................................... 18
5. Nature Connect ..................................................................................................................................... 19
5.1. Description .................................................................................................................................... 19
5.2. The Business Overview ................................................................................................................. 20
5.3. The Location .................................................................................................................................. 20
5.4. Objectives...................................................................................................................................... 21
5.5. Activities at the Site ...................................................................................................................... 21
5.6. Activities Off-Site .......................................................................................................................... 21
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5.7. Target Customers .......................................................................................................................... 22
5.8. Selling the Concept ....................................................................................................................... 22
5.9. Competition .................................................................................................................................. 23
5.10. Marketing Plan .......................................................................................................................... 23
5.11. Sources of Revenues ................................................................................................................. 24
5.12. Analyzing the Sustainability of the Concept – Porter’s 5 Forces Framework ........................... 25
5.13. Future Work to Be Done ........................................................................................................... 26
6. Findings and Recommendations ........................................................................................................... 27
6.1. Visibility in corporate World ......................................................................................................... 27
6.2. 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 Description

Entrance fees Allows access to points beyond the entry gate.

Admission fees Collected for use of a facility or special activity, e.g., museum or photography class.

User fees 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 Monies from sales of souvenirs.
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 Charges for renting or leasing park property or equipment.

Voluntary donations Includes cash, „in-kind‟ gifts and labor, often received through „friends of the park‟
groups.

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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 eco-
organisation. 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
Estimated
Item Details Man-power Comments
required

Survey 4 A contractor and his team may provide
Land Development 6-8 for the services
Architecture/Planning 1-2
Construction and building 20-25
(green buildings) Admin office
guest-house/lodging for 30 people
Sanitation
Campus development/landscape planning
Canteen/kitchen
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
Management/Administration Site in-charge / head 1
Deputy heads 2-3
Secretary/help desk 2-3
Labour/Work force Peons/clerks/admin help 3-4
Cleaners/general servicemen 5-6
Gardeners 2
Kitchen staff 10-12
Actual work related Consultant 1-2
Local guides 2
Horticulturist/conservation-environmental
experts 2
Marketing PR
Advertising
Finance Accountant 1
Treasurer/book-keeper 1
Other Printing
Transport
Telecommunication

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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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