The Tansa River Valley is a predominantly tribal area in the Thane district of Maharashtra situated 70 km from Mumbai, in the heart of the Western Ghats. Due to its proximity to Mumbai it is rapidly trending towards uncontrolled urbanisation which has caused the depletion of the area’s natural forests, mountain resources and fertile top soils, impacting biodiversity, which in turn has affected the traditional livelihoods. Illegal felling of trees and the sale of firewood is rampant. Coupled with human induced forest fires, the area is under severe threat. After an assessment of the region, it was concluded that this degradation could be attributed to the lack of awareness of the forests and the consequent lack of sense of belonging for their natural heritage among the tribal communities.
Vanashakti designs a year round environmental education program based on a geography specific syllabus, for the schools in the valley.
Beginning from 2011, more than 15,000 tribal students from the Tansa Valley of grades 5 to 9 were trained under this program. Students took initiatives to eradicate burning of forests (Each evening, acres of forests were burnt in order to hunt rabitrs and other small rodents), prevented snakes form getting killed, and ensured that their schools were litter free. Environment and nature appreciation are seen as an issue of significance now.