My interests in the relationships that people have with forests spans across many moments on field trips, two semesters abroad in India and in Kenya, and many of my own adventures in upstate New York. I study Global Studies and Environmental Studies with a thematic concentration of the environment in Asia. As my senior year approached I was excited about the prospect of combining all of my experiences into one final project. For my senior year experience, I conducted research on three different forest types around the town of Mcleodganj in the state of Himachal Pradesh in northern India. The grant allowed me to return to this small hill town at the base of the Himalayas to examine the ways that people are using forest resources on mountain slopes. The trees that grow in this environment are highly valuable timber resources that have been used globally for over a century. My research examined the ecological integrity of sacred groves, government owned forests, and community forests that surround the small town. In addition to this, I was also examining the way the local community uses forest resources by doing surveys of the markets on the streets. I was looking for the presence of things like wood, medicinal plants, and local honey.
The grant allowed me to travel back to India for over a week in March of 2018. During this time I conducted forest and market surveys every day. I found that the trees surrounding sacred sites like the St. Johns Cathedral in the Wilderness were home to the oldest and healthiest forests. The surrounding government owned forests also held many species but had a very different look than the sacred groves. I am using the research I conducted to do an analysis of forest conservation in context to the needs of the community of Mcleodganj for my Senior Year Experience in the Global Studies Department. This experience was very valuable for me as it allowed me to implement many of the research techniques that I have learned throughout my time at St. Lawrence while reflecting on my own position in relationship the work that I was doing.