Volume 6:1
January-March 2009 


For private circulation only
Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment

Royal Enclave, Srirampura
Jakkur Post, Bangalore 560 064
Tel: +91-80-23635555
Fax: +91-80-23530070

Eastern Himalayas
E2, Second Floor
Golden Heights,
Gandhi Road,
Darjeeling 734 101,
West Bengal
Tel: +91-354-2259297

New Delhi
2nd Floor, K-1 Commercial Complex,
Birbal Road, Jangpura Extension,
New Delhi 110014
Tel: +91-11-4375 0071

Advisory Board
Dr. R.A. Mashelkar
Dr. Jagmohan Maini
Dr. Dan Martin
Dr. Jairam Ramesh
Dr. Anil K. Gupta
Dr. Peter Raven

Executive Board
Dr. K. S. Bawa
Dr. K. N. Ganeshaiah
Dr. S. N. Rai
Dr. R. Uma Shaanker
Mr. Darshan Shankar
Ms. Rohini Nilekani
Dr. Surinder M. Sehgal
Dr. Jeta Sankrityayana
Ms. Seema Paul
Ms. Pheroza Godrej
Prof. K. S. Jagadish
Dr. Nandini Sundar
Mr. A. N. Singh
Dr. Gladwin Joseph (ex-officio)

Executive Committee
Dr. Gladwin Joseph (Director)
Mr. Suman Rai (Regional
Director - Eastern Himalayas)

Dr. Ankila Hiremath (Regional
Director - Delhi)

Dr. Priyadarsanan Dharma Rajan
Dr. Nitin Rai
Dr.Soubadra Devy
Dr. R. Ganesan
Dr. Robert Chandran


The sixth annual Dr.T.N.Khoshoo award and lecture was held at the India International Center, New Delhi with Shri Shyam Saran, the special envoy of the Prime Minister on Climate Change, presiding as the Chief Guest. This year the award was given to two outstanding individuals who have contributed significantly to the conservation discourse and action in India - Ashish Kothari, a founding member of the Pune-based Kalpavriksh and Charudutt Mishra who is a founding member of the Mysore-based Nature Conservation Foundation. Ashish, in his address, called for "a reorientation of development that privileges environmental sustainability and social equity". Charudutt who has worked over the last decade with communities to conserve the snow leopard in Spiti valley, Himachal Pradesh shared how he has seen positive change in local human attitude towards this magnificent animal, although conflicts over livestock have increased.

Dr. Kamal Bawa, the president of ATREE, welcomed the august gathering and in his remarks warned of the impending global impacts of climate change on ecosystem services and the need to address these issues with a sense of urgency. The Chief Guest was confident that we could draw from India's traditional conservation ethos to address the current environmental concerns. He stressed that each citizen of the world has equal right to the global atmosphere and this he said underpins India's approach to climate change. In the keynote address, Dr. Charles Perrings of Arizona University asked economists to develop rigorous measures to account for environmental wealth that is lost due to development and said that nations have to invest in natural wealth and not take it for granted. He was of the opinion that public good cannot be left to market forces or individuals, but that it remains the responsibility of elected governments.

DNA Club - Biodiversity Festival

Department of Biotechnology's Natural Resource Awareness (DNA) Clubs set up in five schools across Karnataka have been conducting various activities for the past one year. To mark the closing for the year, a 'Biodiversity Festival' was celebrated, where all five schools got together to project their work.

The program was inaugurated on 28th February and was presided over by Dr. N.A. Madhyastha, who released the DNA club brochures and gave a speech.

A host of exhibits were displayed along with the project work done by the students, which included posters, logo designs, artworks, journals, etc. Notable among the displays were projects on befoul, efficient usage of fuel, forest types, pollution of Netravathi River, bar-headed geese-Mongolian guests. Vegetable carvings, handmade papers, paper Mache face masks, greeting cards made out of natural material were the other products that the students made.

The students displayed a journal of all the activities of DNA club. Reports on their visits to bird sanctuaries and wild life sanctuaries were also part of the exhibition.

In the next session DNA Club Coordinators of all five schools presented their DNA club activities through power point presentations. The day ended with a visit to Rathnamanasa, an organic farm run by SDM Institution, Ujire where students learnt about sericulture, dairy farming, water harvesting, animal husbandry, bio gas plant, seed collection, bio compost solution, multiple crops farming, bio pesticides etc.

On the 1st of March, the programme started with a visit to the arboretum run by SDM Institution. An interactive session saw students clearing doubts and gleaning new information on the plants they had seen and collected information on.

Following this, DNA Club coordinators to get their feedback on the programmed and the problems they faced. Teachers were extremely happy about the DNA club programme and wanted to continue it. This also was the day of cultural programmes, where each school presented programmes such as nature related skits, dances etc. The function ended with an award ceremony for the best school and the best DNA Club coordinators. Awards were also given to students for best project work and best cultural programme.

Abhisheka K.

Wetlands Festival 2009

World Wetlands Day is observed on February 2nd every year. It marks the date of signing of the UN Convention on Wetlands, known as Ramsar Convention, which is an intergovernmental treaty that provides a framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetland resources. This day is widely celebrated all over the world to raise awareness on wetland conservation and bring the problems of wetlands into the public domain. To celebrate this year's wetlands day, ATREE Community Environmental Resource Center organized the Wetlands Festival 2009 in Alappuzha.

This event was much accepted by the 300 participants - students, teachers, press and the general public - who attended the festival. The program started with the inaugural ceremony. Dr. Latha Bhaskar, Project coordinator, ATREE CERC, welcomed the gathering. Dr. K.S Manoj, Hon'ble Member of Parliament inaugurated the program. Fr. Thomas Peelianickal, Director of Kuttanad Vikasana Samithy presided over the function. Shri Varghese C Thomas, Chief Sub Editor, Malayala Manorama, gave the wetlands day message on the topic "Upstraem downstream wetlands connect us all". Shri V Vidhyadharan the noted environmentalist of Alappuzha, also addressed the gathering.

Soon after the inaugural function, students of various schools depicted the message of water and wetland conservation, through. a street play, and group dances, including Thullal, a traditional dance form of Kerala. Many teachers also participated in the programmes

Lunch was arranged at the venue. A special food stall with wetland delicacies, which was well appreciated, conveyed the message that wetlands are an important ecosystem that provides food to many. The afternoon session had competitions on puppetry and naadan paattu (traditional song).

- ATREE CERC Team, Alappuzha

Documentary Release

Neerpozhikkum Neerthadam, translated is, "watershed shedding tears", a documentary film by the students of Wetland Study Center, St. Joseph's GHS, Alappuzha. This was their project under the ATREE Jalapaadom Programme. The documentary, scripted and directed by the students, looks into the problems of Vembanad and the ways in which to resolve them. The film analyzes the issues of various stakeholders - farmers, fisher men, clam collectors, as well as the tourism sector. It takes the audience to the life of these people, who are dependant on the lake for their livelihood, and depicts how their life is changing with the changes happening to the lake. The pollution issues of the lake and the role of Thanneermukkom bund in regulating the lake ecology is also analyzed in the documentary.

The screening of the documentary was held at the St. Joseph's GHS Auditorium on 15th January 2009. Shri K.C Venugopal, The Honorable Member of Legislative Assembly was the chief guest of the day. A media report of the documentary is available at http://www.hindu.com/2009/01/18/stories/2009011854720500.htm

ATREE New Office Space

ATREE's main office in Bangalore is now located at new office premises in Srirampura, Jakkur. The office was shifted to this location in February. As a physical demonstration of the values of our organisation, ATREE has sought to fulfill environment-friendly conditions like water-harvesting and efficient energy use in the process of constructing the new building. It will be certified as a "green" building by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design), a green building rating system developed by the United States Green Building Council.

The building comprises of 20,000 square feet and houses an Auditorium, Conference Halls, a Library, a Geographical Information System and Remote Sensing Laboratory, a Map Room, a Herbarium, a unique Insect Museum, a Soil and Hydrology Laboratory, Ecology and Wet Chemistry Laboratory, a Conservation Genetics Laboratory, a Computer Laboratory, an Eco-informatics and Databases Laboratory, a Server Room, a Recreation Room and a Cafeteria.


Arunava Gupta joined the WHBPI project in Guwahati, Assam as a Research Assistant. He assists in project activities dealing with socio-economic and governance issues, and is responsible for various administrative tasks. Arunava has a Master's degree in Political Science and has worked previously on the project titled 'Preservation and Protection of Deepor Beel', a Ramsar site.

Balalourdu Mary has joined ATREE as a HR Assistant and is located at the Bangalore office. She is responsible for assisting the HR Officer in maintaining human resources management systems and processes. Mary has a B.Com degree and has worked in a call centre.

Meetu Desai has joined ATREE as Manager - Communications and is located at the Bangalore office. She heads the communications department of the organization. Meetu has a Master's degree in Marketing and has worked in the advertising and NGO sectors.

Ramya M.V has joined the ATREE Bangalore office as Receptionist. Ramya has a PG Diploma in Computer Applications and has worked previously as a telecaller.

Rebecca Ao joined the WHBPI project in Guwahati, Assam as a Community Development Officer in November 2008. She is responsible for undertaking various socio-economic activities, including survey of fringe villages, alternative livelihood options, engagement with civil society and community-based mechanisms for conservation and sustainability. Rebecca has an MBA from Assam University, Silchar and has worked with the IFAD project on Community Based Natural Resource Management in the North Cachar Hills.


Joanna Griffin is interning with the Communications department and is focusing on the link between art and environment. She is a student of Environmental Science and Fine Arts at the University of Oregon, Oregon, USA.


G. Ravikanth delivered a talk on 'Species Recovery Programs - an Overview', at the Environmental Department in Bangalore University as part of the Special Invited Lecture series.


Tor Benjaminsen, Human Geographer at the Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric) Norwegian University of Life Sciences, As, Norway, gave a talk on 'Community-Based Wildlife Management in Tanzania: Policy and Practice' on January 15th 2009 at the ATREE office.

Sally Duncan, Policy Research Director at the Institute for Natural Resources at Oregon State University, USA gave a talk describing the Institute for Natural Resources in Oregon, the focus on some sample projects which delineate a number of research and community involvement methodologies in the Oregon context on January 27th 2009 at the ATREE office.

Dr John Kineman, Senior Research Scientist in the Ecosystem Science Division, Co-operative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado gave a talk on 'Robert Rosen's "modeling relation" in the origin and operation of complex systems.' on February 5th 2009 at the ATREE office.

Thomas Elmqvist, Professor in Natural Resource Management, Stockholm University gave a talk on 'Using a network approach to analyze social-ecological systems: a case study from southern Madagascar' on February 18th 2009 at the ATREE office.

Dr. Lalitha Kamath, Urban Planner and Researcher and Vinay Baindur, Urban Researcher and Activist gave a talk on 'Planned and Unplanned: Governance at the Peripheries', on March 19th 2009 at the ATREE office


Kuriakose, G., Sinu, P.A. and Shivanna, K.R. 2009. Domestication of Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) in Western Ghats, India: Divergence in Productive Traits and a Shift in Major Pollinators. Annals of Botany 103: 727-733.

T. R. Raghavendra, Priti Vaidyanathan, H. K. Swathi, B. T. Ramesha, G. Ravikanth, K. N. Ganeshaiah, A. Srikrishna and R. Uma Shaanker. 2009. Prospecting for alternate sources of shikimic acid, a precursor of Tamiflu, a bird-flu drug. Current Science, Vol 96 (6): 771-772

Sumangala R. C., Naveen Kumar L., Ramesha B. T, Uma Shaanker R, Ganeshaiah K. N and Ravikanth G. 2009. Development of micro satellite markers for a critically endangered species, Ceropegia fantastica from the Western Ghats, India. Conservation Genetics DOI 10.1007/s10592-009-9825-0.

Shivanna KR 2009. Pollination biology, breeding system and reproductive success of Adhatoda vasica, an important medicinal plant. Current Science 96: 408-412.


ATREE and School of Ecology and Conservation, UAS, Bangalore organised an international conference on 'Invasive Plants in the Tropics: Ecology, Management and Livelihoods' in Bangalore on January 5-6, 2009. This conference aimed at bringing together researchers, practitioners and managers to share their knowledge and experiences in newer developments and advancements in the science, management, policy and utilization of invasives.

Karnataka Forest Department, in collaboration with ATREE, organized a workshop on 'Managing, Monitoring and Utilizing Lantana camara in Reserve Forests and Protected Areas' on January 3, 2009 in Aranya Bhavan, Bangalore. The workshop provided an overview of the three themes, ie, managing, monitoring and utilising Lantana camara and witnessed active participation from forest officers working in different protected areas in Karnataka. Through these deliberations, forest officers and scientists generated useful discussions on managing this important invasive plant to develop a few key recommendations.

Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) and ATREE organized a workshop on the Urban Socio-Ecological Atlas Project on February 19, 2009 at Bangalore. The workshop was attended by members of SRC and ATREE as well as some select invitees involved in urban research. The workshop focused on sharing recent urban research done by invited experts as well involved discussion on setting up of an urban research network. The status of the urban socio-ecological atlas project was also presented and discussed.

ATREE organised a one-day 'Sharing workshop for CEPF Grantees' from the Indian Eastern Himalayas on March 20th 2009. The workshop brought together 16 CEPF Small Grant recipients from the region who shared their project findings and progress.

Dr. Sally Duncan facilitated a one-day writing workshop for staff and students at ATREE, Bangalore on March 18th 2009.

Dr. Sally Duncan facilitated a one-day writing workshop on proposal and report writing at Darjeeling on March 27th 2009. ATREE Eastern Himalayas Programme staff and staff from partner organisations in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Mirik participated.

The Eco Informatics Centre at ATREE organised a workshop on Ecological Niche Modeling at the ATREE office for ATREE staff, Ph.D. students and others. It was a two day workshop on advanced Niche Modeling and comparison of various models and was conducted by John Kineman, Visiting Fellow, ATREE, who was assisted by Nikhil Lele.

The Eco Informatics Centre at ATREE organised a one day workshop on Ecological Niche Modeling at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc, Bangalore, which was conducted by John Kineman, Visiting Fellow, ATREE who was assisted by Shuvankar Ghosh.

A national level workshop, "Building a sea turtle conservation network in India", was held on January 10-11, 2009. There are a number of non-governmental organisations located along the coast that carry out community-based conservation and outreach. And although there is a high level of sustained interest in turtle conservation, there is little opportunity to know how similar issues are handled elsewhere in the country. There is a need to develop a common forum where groups and individuals interested in sea turtle conservation can exchange and have access to information. With this objective in mind, a Conservation and Monitoring Network on Sea Turtles was conducted on the 10th and 11th of January 2009 in Chennai.

Seema Purushottaman organised a Policy forum on small farmers in Karnataka with farmers, bureaucrats, NGOs and researchers and presented work for discussion and ranking of indicators and scenarios.

Seema Purushottaman organised a discussion on Biodiversity Act in ATREE coinciding with the visit of the BDA chair.


Bejoy Thomas attended a round table meeting on 'The Knowledge Society Debates' organised by The STEPS Centre, IDS, Sussex, at National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore on 8th January 2009. He made a presentation on 'Envisaging Participation in the Knowledge Society'.

Dhritiman Das participated in a seminar on "Human-Animal Conflict" at the 7th Kaziranga Elephant Festival, 2009 in Kohara, Kaziranga National Park, Assam on 11th February, 2009.

Hiremath, A., B. Sundaram, R. Kannan, R. Uma Shaanker, N.A. Aravind, G. Joseph, made an oral presentation on 'Lantana camara in the deciduous forests of the Western Ghats - monitoring, management, utilization' at an international meeting on 'Plant Invasion and Forest Ecology: Concerns and Solutions', at the Panjab University, Chandigarh, between March 16-18, 2009.

Hiremath, A, B. Sundaram made an oral presentation on 'Barriers to native species restoration in Lantana camara-invaded habitats' at the International Conference on Invasive Plants in the Tropics: Ecology, Management and Livelihoods, held in January 2009 at Bangalore.

Hiremath, A., B. Sundaram made an oral presentation on 'Lantana management in protected areas' at the ATREE-Karnataka Forest Department workshop on managing, monitoring and utilizing Lantana camara in reserve forests and protected areas, Bangalore in January 2009.

K.R. Shivanna participated in a workshop on - 'Plant taxonomy, reproductive biology and conservation' organized by School of Ecological studies, University of Delhi (Feb 7-14, 2009) as a resource person and delivered a lecture "An overview of reproductive ecology and its relevance to conservation and sustainable utilization of threatened species"

Kaushik, M., A. Hiremath, B. Sundaram made a poster presentation on 'Lantana: Invading native seed-dispersal networks' at the International Conference on Invasive Plants in the Tropics: Ecology, Management and Livelihoods, held on January 2009 at Bangalore.

Kartik Shanker presented a paper, 'A flagship, a port and a union: conservation and corporations - cold war or common cause?' at the 29th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, held on February 17-19, 2009. Brisbane, Australia, organized by the International Sea Turtle Society.

Kartik Shanker attended a conference on 'Social dimensions of marine protected area (mpa) implementation in India: do fishing communities benefit?' held on 21 - 22 January 2009 at Chennai, organized by the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers

Ramanatha Rao participated in the Annual Project Review meeting of Network Project on RET Medicinal Plants held on 20-21 February 2009 at the College of Forestry, UAS (D), Sirsi, Karnataka, India. Gave a lecture on 'Establishing and managing Medicinal Plant Field Genebank'.

Ramanatha Rao participated in the IIHR Staff Development Programme held on 16th March 2009 at IIHR, Hessaraghatta. He gave a lecture on "Biodiversity and conservation of tropical fruit genetic resources - current status"

Dr. Santosh Chettri and Nishat Rehman participated in a training programme on "Fundamentals of Livelihoods Promotion" in Gangtok from 23- 28 February 2009. The training was organised and conducted by The Livelihood School (promoted by BASIX group) based in Kolkata in collaboration with a local NGO, Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Sikkim (ECOSS).

Seema Purushottaman presented her work in the team meeting of Land Use Policies and Sustainable Development in Developing Countries (LUPIS) in Nanjing Agricultural University, China.

Sinu P.A attended an International Workshop on Nocturnal pollination held between 22-27 March 2009 at Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore, organized jointly by CES-IISc and Lund University, Sweden.

Suman Rai and Samuel Thomas participated in a CEPF Regional Workshop held 24-25th January 2009 in Punakha, Bhutan. The meeting brought together the teams from the Nepal, Bhutan and Indian [Eastern Himalayas] Programmes to review the progress of the Programme and strategise.

Suman K Rai attended the 'Final Assessment Workshop for the CEPF Investment in the Eastern Arc and Coastal Forests of Kenya and Tanzania' held during 25-26th February at Dar E Salaam, Tanzania.

Sundaram, B., A. Hiremath made an oral presentation on 'Rapid spread of Lantana camara in a protected area in the Western Ghats hotspot: implications for conservation and restoration' at the International Conference on Invasive Plants in the Tropics: Ecology, Management and Livelihoods, held on January 2009 at Bangalore.

Sundaram, B., A. Hiremath made an oral presentation on 'Monitoring lantana in protected areas' at the ATREE-Karnataka Forest Department workshop on managing, monitoring and utilizing Lantana camara in reserve forests and protected areas, Bangalore in January 2009.

Vivek Ramachandran attended the Student Conference in Conservation Science held between 24th - 26th March'09 at the Department of Zoology, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK and presented a poster.

Paramesha, M. presented a paper entitled “Role of fruit-frugivores in conserving Amla, a wild bioresources of Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary (BRT), Western Ghats, India” at the annual meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology Conservation (ATBC) Asia-Pacific Chapter, held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, from 12th -15th of February 2009. He also attended the workshop on “Statistics and Paper Writing” held at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT), Bangkok, Thailand, from the 17th - 27th of February 2009. The conference and workshop were organized by ATBC in collaboration with KMUTT.


Lisa Dean and Deborah Spayd from Conservation International visited ATREE Eastern Himalayas Programme office on 10th February 2009 to review overall financial performance with emphasis on compliance with CI and CEPF rules and regulations.


ATREE Eastern Himalayas Programme has announced the 'ATREE Small Grants for Research in NE India'. This programme has been made possible by a grant of $30000 from the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration (CRE). The focus for this year's small grants are the Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalayas.


Kartik Shanker was selected President, International Sea Turtle Society, 2009 - 2010.

Ramanatha Rao has been placed on the World Bamboo Congress (WBC) Paper Review Panel"

Ramanatha Rao has been asked to be the curriculum coordinator throughout the development of the e-learning course on prebreeding by FAO

Ramanatha Rao has been invited to participate in the Expert Consultation to finalize the Second State of the World's Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture Report (SoW-2) 9-11 June 2009, FAO, Rome.

G. Ravikanth was recognised as a Ph.D. guide in the Manipal University in Conservation Genetics and Bioprospecting.

Sinu P.A was conferred fellowship by Royal Entomological Society, London.

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