Branches@ATREE(A Bimonthly Newsletter)
Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment
659 5th A Main, Hebbal
Bangalore 560 024
Tel: 080-353 3942,353 0069
Fax: 353 0070
New Delhi 110 017
Tel/Fax: 011-266 93299
Eastern Himalayas Office
Bagdogra 734 422
Dr. Bibhab Talukdar
Mr. Manoj Dabas
Ms. Suparna Biswas
Conserving India’s Natural Heritage
India is one of the signatories to the World Heritage Convention and five of India’s key protected areas are currently inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.These are Kaziranga and Manas in Assam, Keoladeo in Rajasthan, Sundarbans in West Bengal and Nanda Devi in Uttaranchal.
The designation of a protected area as a world heritage site confers several benefits: direct and indirect financial assistance, greater visibility of the site(s) in world conservation circles, inhibition of destructive development and land use changes around these sites, and possibly increased benefits from eco-tourism due to their international stature.
A new initiative is being launched through a planning grant from the UN Foundation (UNF), through UNESCO, which was awarded to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, that will use four World Heritage Biodiversity sites in India as models for other protected areas, to be replicated if successful.The proposal will be submitted to UNF in March 2003 for securing funding from themand from other organizations to implement the recommendations of the proposal in a phased manner. The first phase will be for a trial 4-year period, which may be extended to 10 years after a critical review. The implementing agencies for the planning phase activities are the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, and the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE). ATREE is in charge of activities in the Eastern Himalayas and Western Ghats and WII is the lead agency for the Nanda Devi and Keoladeo Ghana National Parks and the Terai floodplains.
As part of this program, ATREE organized a workshop in New Delhi in January 2003 to design and implement a communications and advocacy strategy for raising the profile of protected-area management as a profession within Indian society, andfor increasing the interest of youth in choosing this profession as a career option.
Desirable outcomes of the World Heritage Biodiversity Program advocacy and communications strategy would be, asignificant reduction of political and public opposition and animosity to law enforcement
Practices adopted by protected areamanagement personnel to protect biodiversity; regular media coverage, and other advocacy products in public and private media channels promoting the work of protected areamanagement personnel and emphasizing the role played by them in preserving our natural heritage; and agreater appreciation and understanding of the benefits of conservation (e.g.,ecosystem services) amongkey decision makers, people’s representatives, politicians, the judiciary, senior bureaucrats and also the general public.– Abi Tamin
Course in conservation biology in the North East – Jan.21 to Feb.4, 2003
ATREE sponsored its 4th conservation biology course and the2nd of its kind in the north east for post graduate and graduate students. It was held in Siliguri and Guwahati. The objective of this course was to teach students the fundamentals of Conservation biology, as it is practiced today. This was conducted at two different locations. One was in Siliguri area with field work in the Mahananda wild life sanctuary and around Darjeeling. The other location was Guwahati in Assam for lectures while the field work was done close to Guwahati, in Meghalaya region. 15 students including one from Nepal participated in the course. Many new topics were introduced such as: conservation planning, lesser fauna approach to conservation, forest restoration, laws and policies in conservation apart from the regular topics such as general introduction to
Conservation biology, distribution of biodiversity at global and regional levels, ecological communities and their conservation, conserving small populations at species level, threats to biodiversity such as local extinctions, climate change, invasive species and forest fragmentation, genetics of conservation, Ex-situ conservation and protected areas.
-- T. Ganesh
ATREEwelcomes the following new and recently appointed Fellows:
Dr. Kartik Shanker, who obtained his PhD from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India. Dr. Shanker is an animal ecologist. His recent work has focused on the ecology and conservation genetics of the Ridley turtle.
Ms. Seema Purushothaman is finishing her PhD degree from the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, India, . She obtained her Master’s degree in natural resource and environmental economics from the University of London. Ms. Purushothaman is a resource economist.
Dr. Harini Nagendra obtained her PhD from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India. She is currently a post-doctoral fellow at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA. Dr. Nagendra has interests in landscape ecology, and property and tenure rights associated with the use of natural resources.
Dr. Bhaskar Sinha has a PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University, NewDelhi,
India. Dr. Sinha is an ecologist. He is particularly interested in the sustainable use of natural resources in mountain ecosystems.
Dr. Mohan G.S completed his PhD from University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, India, in genetics and plant breeding. His interests are in plant-genetic-resource utilization, agro-biodiversity and eco-informatics.
Dr. Mohammed Irfan Ullah obtained his PhD from the applied geology department at the
Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee. His doctoral thesis was on environmental hydrochemistry. His special interests are in the use of GIS and remote sensingtechniques in natural resource management with an emphasis on water resource management.
Dr. Rohan D’Souza (visiting fellow) has a PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He has been a post-doctoral research associate at Yale University in New Haven and at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. Dr. D’Souza is interested in environmental policy and environmental history.
Some of the fellows named above have filled 4 of the 5 endowed positions. These are:
Plant/Forest Ecologist - Dr. Ankila Hiremath
Landscape/Watershed Ecologist - Dr. Jagdish Krishnaswamy
Animal/Wildlife Ecologist - Dr. Kartik Shanker
Environmental Economist - Dr. Seema Purushothaman
New Staff Members
Arundhati Das completed her MS in environmental science from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA. She is interested in landscape ecology and is the coordinator of the GIS and remote sensing laboratoryat ATREE.
Sham Dhavande completed his MS in environmental science from Shivaji University, Kolhapur, India. – He is a research associate working with a Ministry-of-Environment-and-Forests-funded gap analysis project at ATREE.
Shiva Subramanya is the new systems administrator at ATREE. He completed his MS in computer science from Madurai Kamaraj University,Madurai, India. His special interest is in data base management.
T.R. Gopi is the ATREE senior accountant. He graduated from Achrya Patashala College, Bangalore, India, with a degree in commerce.
Edda G. Sehgal Fund in Conservation Science
Through the generous support of the Sehgal Family Foundation, ATREE has established the Edda G. Sehgal Fund in Conservation Science. The Foundation’s gift of Rs.48 lakhs (U.S. $100,000) was matched by ATREE to set up an endowment of approximately Rs.96 lakhs (U.S.$200,000). The endowment will support an Edda G. Sehgal Fellowship in Conservation Science.The fund will also provide assistance to fellows of ATREE to conduct research at institutions in the Boston areafor limited periods. This $100.000 gift is on top of the endowment grant provided to ATREE by the Sehgal Family Foundation in 2002.
T.N. Khoshoo Memorial Fund
ATREE has established the T.N. Khoshoo Memorial Fund to honor the late Dr. T.N. Khoshoo, one of India’s eminent botanists and environmentalists. Dr. Khoshoo was also a Trustee of ATREE. The Fund, established by ATREE with a contribution from K.S. Bawa and Ganesan Balachander will recognize outstanding individuals engaged in academic or action-oriented environmental work. A committee headed by
Dr. Ved Brat of Braton Biotech Inc, Rockville, Maryland, U.S.A.,will develop the guidelines for the T.N. Khoshoo Memorial Award(s)It will also plan for the annual event associated with the award.
ATREE Board Member to Head the Ford Foundation, New Delhi
Dr. Ganesan Balachander, currently the Director of the Asia Program at the Mountain Institute, Washington, D.C., has been selected as the Program Head (Representative) of Ford Foundation’s New Delhi office for India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. He will jointhe Foundation in June of this year. Dr. Balachander is a member of ATREE’s Executive Board. However, with his recent appointment to the Ford Foundation, he plans to resign from the ATREE board.
Science Features ATREE Publication
Science, the world’s leading newsmagazine, and the weekly journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, featured an article published by ATREE scientists in its January 17, 2003 issue under the Editor’s Choice column.The following is a quote fromone of the editors of Science:
ECOLOGY/EVOLUTION: Biodiversity from Space “Mapping and quantifying biodiversity is key to effective conservation planning, yet gathering the necessary data can be costly and time consuming. Conservationists and land managers therefore place a premium on methods, such as remote sensing, that yield tolerable estimates of biodiversity in the absence of exhaustive ground surveys. Bawa et al. have tested a method of estimating tree diversity from space. Their study, conducted in the Biligiri Rangaswamy hills in the Western Ghats, India, shows a strong and positive correlation between species richness and an index of green biomass–the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)–which can be assessed accurately using satellite imagery. This technique shows promise for estimating broad patterns of tree species diversity at the landscape scale in tropical forests, which may be crucial to identifying areas most in need of protection and where rapid destruction is underway.” –
The details of the cited paper are:
Assessing Biodiversity from Space: An Example from the Western Ghats, India.
Kamaljit Bawa, Joseph Rose, K.N. Ganeshaiah, Narayani Barve, M.C. Kiran, and R. Umashaanker .Conservation. Ecology. 6, http://www.consecol.org/vol6/iss2/art7 (2002).
Workshop on “Policies, Management, Utilization and Conservation of Non-Timber Forest Products in the South Asia Region” at Bangalore, Sponsored by FAO.
June 9, 10 and 11, 2003
Eco-informatics Workshop at Bangalore, sponsored by Indo-U.S Forum
2nd week in June, 2003
Conservation Biology course for senior, graduate and post-graduate students at Bangalore
Bawa K, J. Rose, K.N. Ganeshaiah, N. Barve, M.C. Kiran, and R. Umashaanker. 2002. Assessing Biodiversity from Space: An Example from the Western Ghats, India. Conservation Ecology. 6, http://www.consecol.org/vol6/iss2/art7
A.J., J.J. Ewel, and T.G. Cole. 2002. Productivity, nutrient retention,
and nutrient use efficiency in three fast-growing tropical trees. Forest
Science 48: 662-672
Talukdar, B.K. 2002. Tiger Predation of Rhino Calves at Kaziranga National Park, Assam. Tiger Paper 29: 18-20
Talukdar, B.K. 2002. Dedication leads to reduced rhino poaching in Assam in recent years. Pachyderm 33: 58-63