India’s Fake Forests

A tweet from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) reads – “Did you know? The total forest cover of India is 807,276 sq. km which is 24.56% of the geographical area of the country!” 

When forest diversion and tree felling for development projects – roads, dams, mining, real estate and other infrastructure, are everyday news headlines, how could India continue its chest-thumping over forest cover, one wonders. Yet, every two years, there is a miraculous increase.

Imagine … Read More

Why Adding More RAMSAR Wetlands is Beneficial to a Growing India

On the eve of the first World Wetland Day of the new decade (February 2nd, 2020) India took the initiative to add 10 more wetlands to its pocketful of RAMSAR wetland sites, taking the total number of internationally-recognized wetlands in the country to 37 sites.

Wetlands are areas where water is the primary controlling factor for the abiotic and biotic components of these ecosystems. The RAMSAR convention on wetlands (1971), held in the Iranian city of Ramsar, is recognized … Read More

Natural Forests More Reliable than Monoculture Plantations for Sequestering Carbon

Natural forests harbouring a diverse mix of native tree species are more reliable than monoculture tree plantations for sequestering carbon, suggests a new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. This is because natural forests vary less from year to year in the rate of carbon capture from the atmosphere compared to plantations, as the ability of these forests to capture carbon is less affected by disturbances such as droughts. The study was conducted by scientists from Nature … Read More

Rewilding in a City; Making of the Aravali Biodiversity Park

I first heard of the Aravalli Biodiversity Park in 2011 from Pradip Krishen, a friend and mentor in the field of rewilding. He asked if I was free to work with a small group of people—a citizens’ initiative—who wanted to plant ‘a million trees’ and create a nature park on an old mining site at the edge of Gurgaon.

The 380-acre site was bleak and forbidding. A former mining site for quartzite rock and its orange, gravelly degrade, known as … Read More

Connecting Tiger Populations for Long-term Conservation

According to a Dec 02, 2019 Press Release from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), the Indian Government has mapped 32 major tiger corridors inside and outside protected areas across the country, as part of a long-term conservation strategy for the big cats. The plan, which is also likely to benefit many other species, will include mandatory animal passages when developing new infrastructure projects.

The plan is contained in a document titled ‘Connecting Tiger Populations for Long-term Read More

Forests May Not Recover Even After 36 Years of Abandoning Plantations, Finds Study

All over the world, the number of plantations have been increasing for timber, paper and other produce. Several studies have been carried out to understand if plantations can sustain native flora and fauna. But, how long does it take for an abandoned plantation to recover and grow back into a forest? In a new study published in the Journal of Tropical Ecology in February 2019, researchers from Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) and Gubbi Labs, … Read More

Conflict Big Cats to be Termed as Dangerous and not as Man-eaters, their Elimination only by Dept. Staff

With wildlife veterinarians calling upon the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to revamp the prevailing guidelines/SOP to deal with conflict big cats (tigers and leopards), certain changes have been brought in the procedures to be followed by the tiger range states in India from November 11, 2019. This puts an end to hiring of hunters / sharp shooters for capture operations of big cats as also calling conflict tigers as ‘man-eaters’ and finally, leaving major decisions to skilled wildlife vets … Read More

Conservation Status of Dholes (Asiatic Wild Dogs) in Northeast India

Dholes or Asiatic wild dogs (Cuon alpinis) are among the least-studied large carnivores in the world. The IUCN Red List assessment (2015) categorizes the dhole as an Endangered species. With fewer than 2,500 mature individuals remaining in the wild – across 11 countries in South and Southeast Asia – the dhole may be facing a crisis far more severe than the tiger or elephant. India has the highest dhole population in the world, in three key landscapes: the Western Ghats, … Read More

Ecological Restoration Increases Tree Diversity and Carbon Storage in Degraded Rainforest Fragments

Our research article that appeared recently in the journal, Ecosphere, asks: To what extent can a degraded rainforest be ecologically restored to resemble an undisturbed and mature rainforest? This is the first study that attempts to evaluate the effectiveness of a long term rainforest restoration project in the Anamalai Hills of the Western Ghats in peninsular India.

The results of the study suggest that ecological restoration of degraded rainforests – by controlling invasive weeds and planting native tree saplings – … Read More

Conservation is Not Enough, We Need to Restore

This was the constant undertone at the 8th Global Ecological Restoration Conference of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) held recently at Cape Town, South Africa. Almost a third of the world’s natural resources are degraded today, many severely, and India is no exception. This includes our forest and non-forest landscapes, oceans, rivers, coasts, wetlands, and many other unique ecosystems. Biodiversity as well as ecosystem service delivery capability stand more seriously impaired than ever before. Importantly, many of nature’s systems … Read More