Sustainability initiatives at IFP expand beyond the focus of its research areas. It encompasses a range of activities that promote sustainable resource management, biodiversity as well as awareness and capacity building for sustainable development. IFP’s commitment towards sustainability is reflected through employing sustainability principles and practices in its day to day functioning. From utilising renewable energy resources through installation of rooftop solar panels to centuries-old tradition of maintenance of bee colonies, the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP) aims to influence eco-friendly and innovative practices that can aid the transition to a sustainable future.
Apart from adopting simple energy saving measures in office such as opening the blinds at workspaces to make use of daylight to switching off lights and monitors when not in use, IFP utilises renewable energy from solar panels and integrate them into overall power management in the campus. Currently, the institute partially meets the overall power consumption from the energy generated from solar panels installed at our building. This helps in reducing the associated energy costs as well as lowers the carbon footprint from its day to day operations. Our future roadmap aims at higher energy savings through energy efficient office equipments and innovative use of technologies that can help reduce the overall energy consumption.
Bees and plants are mutually interdependent. Plants are dependent on the bees for their pollination service and in turn bees depend on flowering plants as they provide nutrition which is essential for their growth. Honey bees and bee-keeping are important components for the management of sustainable natural and agro-ecosystem.
Beyond the honey productivity of the bees the most important function is maintaining ecological balance and helping agriculture through pollination. The indigenous bee A.cerana having evolved in this region, can be better suited for beekeeping activities here. Knowledge of flower blooming season and its duration is essential information for good management of beekeeping and sustainable management of bee colonies for pollination and honey production. Such knowledge can be obtained only by doing long term research on plant-honey bee interactions to understand the bees' preferences.
In this context, the IFP in partnership with the team at Merveille (Project Ecolake) is involved in Apiculture and has started an initiative to implement and raise awareness of the importance of honeybees and beekeeping in sustainable agro ecosystems is the focus here is not so much on their commercial values but their importance in pollination through a new trans disciplinary project titled:“From Bees for Honey to Bees for pollination: Towards sustainable agro ecological practices through the creation of an atmosphere for bees and other native pollinators”. The special focus is on the role of native pollinating insects and in particular the Indian honey bee in improving plant productivity in the context of organic agriculture, and plant diversity in the context of biodiversity studies using a broad based science-society approach. To understand and study this issue on a regular basis, the Ecology and Social Sciences Departments of the IFP have installed two beehives in the IFP garden for a continuous monitoring and research programme to identify the plants visited by the honey bees using the pollen grains collected in their legs. Thus, what is envisaged is a paradigm shift in understanding the role of pollinators, specifically honey bees, in tropical agro ecosystems.