Vol 2:2
For private circulationonly
March 2004
Ashoka Trust for Research in
Ecology and the Environment
Branches@ATREE(A Bimonthly Newsletter)

Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment

Bangalore Office
659 5th A Main, Hebbal
Bangalore 560 024
Tel: 080-353 3942, 353 0069
Fax: 353 0070

Delhi Office
B-80 Shivalik
New Delhi 110 017
Tel/Fax: 011-266 93299
266 93190

Eastern Himalayas Office
Bungalow No.2, Bhujiapani
Bagdogra 734 422
Tel/Fax:0353-255 1110
255 0093

Advisory Board
Dr. Kanchan Chopra
Dr. Anil K. Gupta
Dr. R.A. Mashelkar
Dr. Jagmohan Maini
Dr. Peter Raven

Executive Board
Dr. K.S. Bawa (chair)
Dr. K.N. Ganeshaiah
Dr. S.N. Rai
Dr. R. Shailaja
Dr. R. Uma Shaanker
Mr. Darshan Shankar
Dr. Gladwin Joseph

Executive Staff
Dr. Gladwin Joseph
Ms. Suparna Biswas
Dr. Bibhab Talukdar
Mr. Manoj Dabas


ATREE is happy to announce the setting up of an Eco-informatics Centre which is a joint initiative of ATREE and UAS. It is supported by Hewlett-Packard through a major equipment grant.

The centre evolved from a workshop on ‘Eco-Informatics’ held in Bangalore on 9-11 June, 2003. This workshop brought together scientists from the United States and India to exchange information on their respective ongoing programs while exploring the potential and specific requirements for integrating various Eco-Informatics tools.

Eco-Informatics is a newly emerging area. It deals with the generation of and value addition to databases developed through the application of information technologies. It also covers data on diversity and spatial distribution of genes, populations, species, ecosystems and ecosystem services. The objective is to provide better conservation and management of biological diversity, natural resources and ecosystem services. The major components of the center will be 1) assemblage and organization of databases: geophysical, bioresources and socio-economic, 2)work in computational ecology and 3) Applications of eco-informatics in areas such as conservation planning and management and mapping of ecosystem services . The Center is also expected to generate training modules to invest in human resources required to develop the field in India.

The equipment grant from HP will fulfill one of the important requirements of the ATREE-HP Eco- Informatics Network initiative. We are working hard to raise resources to cover the other costs such as a fast internet connectivity, required human resources and software. We expect that this will be achieved within the next


six months. Initially, the emphasis will be on the Western Ghats hotspot but the scope will be extended to the rest of India in a phased manner. The ATREE-UAS-HP Eco-Informatics Network initiative will contribute directly to the World Heritage Biodiversity Program that we expect to work on with the UN Foundation. All synergies between this center and other such programs and projects based in the Western Ghats and elsewhere will be explored and implemented.

- Jagdish Krishnaswamy



The trustees and staff of ATREE gathered at the new building site at Royal Enclave near Jakoor, for an
informal ground breaking ceremony. ATREE plans to start building its ‘Bangalore Center’ by June of 2004. The building has been designed by Mr. Jeeth Iype, architect of the HOUSE OF CONSULTANTS.


Nitin Rai has joined ATREE as a post doctoral fellow. He completed his PhD from the Department of Biology at Pennsylvania State University and will be working with Dr. Bawa on Non Timber Forest Product research and Policy.


On "Accelerating Implementation of National Forest Programmes (NFPs): Strategies and New Directions”
ATREE, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) jointly organized this workshop in Delhi on March 10-12, 2004. Mr. Nirmal Kumar Joshi, Director General of Forests, MoEF; Dr Daniel Gustafson, FAO country representative, Dr S. Appanah,National Forest program advisor, Asia-Pacific, FAO, Bangkok and Dr. K.D. Singh, senior fellow, ATREE and FAO Advisor
were the distinguished guests at the opening session. Forty participants from five South Asian countries representing national forest program focal points, policy makers, industries, NGOs, academicians, regional and international partners attended.
The focus of this workshop was the growing complexities of the forestry sector calling for integration of forest management goals with those of overall national development. Other aspects were poverty alleviation, giving due consideration to the ecosystem functions of forests; fostering participation of all stakeholders in the decision-making process; and a transparent monitoring and evaluation system. A comprehensive framework for NFP including forest policy planning and implementation at the country level has been developed by IPF (Intergovernmental Panel on Forests), UNCED Agenda 21 and Forestry Principles. However, most countries in the South Asian region have not been able to use this process to effectively coordinate their policy dialogue across sectors, and take into account the largely cross-sector linkages that trigger deforestation.

The workshop objectives were to:

  • Analyse ongoing National Forest Programmes in the sub-region from social, ecological and economic perspectives, and identify directions and strategies for enhancing their effectiveness
  • Strengthen the poverty focus and participation of civil society in the NFP and National Strategies for Sustainable Development
  • Develop systems to monitor and evaluate implementation of NFPs and their impact on sustainable development.
  • Develop a mechanism for interaction, networking and exchange of information on NFPs among implementers, assistance agencies and countries
  • Formulate a “Policy Brief” directed at decision-making levels

To achieve the above objectives, the workshop deliberated on IPF/IFF (Intergovernmental Forum on Forest) proposals for implementing NFPs, country capacity building needs,


strengthening of stakeholders participation, pro-poor actions, cross- sector linkages and other related issues. Apart from the presentation of countries papers reviewing the respective NFP, the selected speakers presented in-depth analysis of thematic issues in different technical sessions; and group work provided opportunities to review and recommend action under various identified themes and sub-themes.
The workshop concluded by recommending strategies and new directions for successful implementation of the National Forest Programs and strengthening technical cooperation among countries of the SAARC. The Forestry Departments of South Asian Countries are taking further action on implementation of the recommendations of the Workshop.

ATREE acknowledges with thanks the support extended by MoEF and FAO Representatives of SAARC Countries (Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and India) in facilitating different phases of the workshop. The Organizers plan to bring out the proceedings of the workshop by end of May 2004. The summary of proceedings and all presentations made during the workshop has been already compiled in a CD and the same can be obtained on request from Dr. Bhaskar Sinha, fellow. (bsinha@atree.org)

-Bhaskar Sinha


ATREE organized a study tour for the Association Voyage de Fin d’Etudes, Ecole Superieure du Bios, Nantes, France from February 29- March 8, 2004. Seventy four final year students, 3 faculty and 2 journalists visited Karnataka for a 8-day activity-filled tour learning about wood science and technology in South India with an emphasis on conservation.

- Joyeeta Das


The ATREE watershed team welcomed Dr. Mike Bonell, eminent hydrologist and Chief, Hydrological Processes and Climate change, UNESCO Head-quarters, Paris who visited the field sites instrumented by the ATREE team in Bandipur National Park. Dr. Bonell was accompanied by Dr. R. Jayakumar, Programme Officer for Hydrology, UNESCO-New Delhi as part of the annual review process of the UNESCO-FORD Dr. Mike Bonell expressed satisfaction at the work done under difficult


conditions and gave valuable advice on rainfall-run-off measurements and stream channel characterization.


ATREE organized a national workshop on January 30-31, 2004 in Bangalore, as part of a Ford Foundation supported study on Conservation, Enterprise and Livelihood, being coordinated by Dr. A. J James. The workshop discussed the urgent need to evaluate natural resource-based community-organized rural enterprise on the triple baseline of economic viability, social equity and environmental sustainability. Following the discussions based on the invited presentations on specific case studies from all over India and Nepal, the 40 odd participants broke into smaller groups to discuss these issues in more details. Headway was made on identifying indicators to assess the triple baseline, which were discussed further in the plenary discussions on the second day. The findings from the workshop will inform the design of the case studies that are to be conducted from April to June as part of the on-going study.

(“Remove plastic. Save nature”)

This is one of the many slogans composed by the
School children in the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple (BRT) Wildlife Sanctuary The slogan has become one of the mottos of the BRT No-Plastics campaign. This campaign is part of a VGKK-Kalpavriksha-ATREE environmental education program involving the local school and the community, in an effort to restore conservation values in the BR Hills. Other agencies involved are the Karnataka Forest Department, the Temple Trust, the Gram Panchayat, and the Nityata Foundation.
The campaign was officially launched with a Jatha, or procession, in mid-January, in which almost 400 school children, teachers, and women participated. The procession started at the VGKK school, where the participants took a pledge to keep the sanctuary and the temple premises plastic free, and the Chamarajanagara DCF, Mr. Dixit, awarded prizes to the children who had come up with the best slogans for the Jatha. The procession then wound its way through the podus, and the bus stop, culminating at the


temple. En route, the participants gathered up 40-45 gunny bags of plastic garbage.
Other activities that have been carried out as part of this campaign, so far, have been meetings to inform the local shopkeepers about the state-wide plastics ban, and to provide them alternatives to the use of plastic bags, cups, etc.; the printing of cloth bags that will be provided to the shopkeepers on a plastic-buy-back basis; and the designing of signage that will be put up at strategic locations in the sanctuary to inform visitors and tourists. In the future, the plan is to provide separate dustbins for plastics and biodegradable waste. There is also a proposal to take the shopkeepers and other members of the community to visit Kodaikanal, where a similar plastics-ban is already in effect.

The collective effort that has resulted in this action campaign is an excellent start to the BRT Environmental Education program. It is also an encouraging example of local-community-involvement in restoring conservation values.

- Ankila Hiremath


Velavan, T.P., Udayakumar, D., Hendre, P.S., Shanker, K., Choudhury, B.C., Singh, L. and Aggaarwal, R.K. poster presentation on ‘Development and characterization of novel microsatellite markers from the olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)” at the 24th annual symposium of sea turtle biology and conservation, San Jose, Costa Rica, 22-29, February 2004
Shanker, K. ‘Review of sea turtle – fisheries interactions in the Indian Ocean”. at the FAO expert consultation on “interactions between sea turtles and fisheries within an ecosystem context”, Rome, Italy, 9-12 March 2004.

Shanker, K. ‘Review of olive ridley turtles in Orissa, India” at the second meeting of the signatory states, Memorandum of Understanding on the conservation management of marine turtles and their habitats of Indian ocean and south-east Asia, Bangkok, Thailand, 16-19 March 2004.

Joseph, G ‘Integrating conservation into natural resource based enterprises in Tamil Ndau’ A presentation facilitated by Covenant Center for Development (CCD) to key functionaries of twelve NGO’s in Maduri, Southern Tamil Nadu., March 16, 2004 .

Krishnaswamy, J “Effectiveness of Protected Areas in protecting forest biomass: A case study from South India” during a session called “ Do Parks work?” at the Centennial meeting of the American Association of Geographers which was held in Philadelphia, U.S.A from March 14 -19.


Sonali Saha., and Hiremath, A.J. (2003) ‘Anthropogenic fire in India: a tale of two forests’, Arid Lands Newsletter, 54.

J. Krishnaswamy, M. C. Kiran and K. N. Ganeshaiah. Tree model based eco-climatic vegetation classification and fuzzy mapping in diverse tropical deciduous ecosystems using multi-season NDVI, International Journal of Remote Sensing, volume 25, issue 6, pp. 1185-1205. March 2004.

M. Zacharias & P. D. Rajan (April 2004) ‘Discothyrea sringerensis (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) a new ant species from India’
Zootaxa 484: 1-4, 1 plate; 10 references.


Bharath Sundaram and Ankila Hiremath. ‘Effect of fire and grazing on forest regeneration in Sadhukonda, Chittoor District, Andhra Pradesh’. A grant from Foundation for Ecological Security.

T. Ganesh. ‘Effect of fragmentation and different management regimes on the diversity of large and medium sized mammals in forests of south eastern Karnataka’. A grant from the Social Forestry (Research), Karnataka Forest Department.

R. Ganesan, "Evaluating the role of plantations in restoration of native forest vegetation in the Western Ghats, India". A Grant from International Foundation for Science, Sweden.

Grants from Ministry of Science & Technology, Department of Biotechnology:-
K Shivanna, R. Uma Shaanker, G. Joseph. “Reproductive ecology and population enrichment of endemic and critically endangered plant species of Western Ghats” under the program National Bioresource Development Board.

Manoj Dabas. ‘Vacation Training Programme on Bioresources for School Children’ under the programme on “National Bioresource Development Board (NBDB).