Building Bridges – Improving Forest Connectivity in the Western Ghats

Ramesh Venkataraman

Ecological restoration has helped reconnect two parts of Bandipur Tiger Reserve

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Strategically planned and scientifically implemented ecological restoration of key areas can improve habitat connectivity and even reduce man-animal conflict.

A young tusker walks along Aala Halla in Lokkere reserve forest (RF), an important migratory corridor connecting two parts of Bandipur Tiger Reserve. Ecological restoration in this landscape over the last 12-years involving Junglescapes (an NGO specialising in ecological restoration) has created a very healthy habitat for elephants, with excellent grass cover and numerous browsing trees / shrub species. The area has been made almost completely free of the exotic invasive Lantana camara. Usage of the habitat by elephants has gone up significantly. Anecdotal evidence from villagers in nearby hamlets also indicates a reduction in crop raids.

A significant threat in the reserve forest, the tiger reserve and the entire Western Ghats ecosystem is large scale invasion by Lantana camara. The extent and nature of the invasion in the RF is largely similar to that in the tiger reserve, with 50-60% of the area occupied by the species. Science-based ecological restoration — covering both its removal and the restoration of cleared sites to healthy wildlife habitats — can help mitigate this to a considerable extent.

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About the author

Ramesh Venkataraman

Ramesh is the Managing Trustee of Junglescapes and is an active member of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER).


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