NEW YORK (July 6, 2016) – India’s protected areas are at a crossroads, and a new book by top Indian scientists provides a roadmap on the way forward.
Recovering Biodiversity in Indian Forests published by Springer, demonstrates how varying levels of human disturbance manifested through different management regimes influence composition, richness, diversity and abundance of India’s key mammal, bird, and plant species.
The book’s lead author is G. Viswanatha Reddy, Additional Principal Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden, Department of Forest, Government of Rajasthan. Other authors include: K. Ullas Karanth, Director of Science – Asia, WCS; N. Samba Kumar, Additional Director – Science and Training, WCS India Program; Jagdish Krishnaswamy, Convenor and Senior Fellow at the SuriSeghal Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment; and Krithi K. Karanth, Associate Conservation Scientist with the Global Conservation Program, WCS.
The book shows the critical importance of the ‘wildlife preservation’ approach for effective Indian biodiversity conservation. It provides examples of a practical application of rigorous methods of quantitative sampling of different plant and animal taxa as well as human influences, thus serving as a useful manual for protected area managers.
Protected areas of various kinds have been established in India with the goal of arresting decline in, and to provide for, recovery of biodiversity and ecosystem services. A model that targets ‘wildlife preservation’ under state ownership is practiced across the country. However, forests in India are under intensive human pressure and varying levels of protection; therefore, protected areas may also experience open-access resource use, a model that is being aggressively advocated as a viable alternative to ‘preservation.
“At this juncture a reemphasis on India’s basic conservation model of strictly protected nature reserves and reverence for wildlife in India’s culture is needed,” said Vishwanatha Reddy, lead author of the book.
The authors have evaluated the conservation efficacy of alternative forest management models by quantifying levels of biodiversity under varied levels of access, resource extraction and degree of state-sponsored protection in the Nagarahole forest landscape of southwestern India.
Said co-author Ullas Karanth: “The publication of this book to me represents the great scope that exists for collaboration between dedicated and sincere wildlife managers of India and high caliber scientific talent that is eager to work with them to advance conservation science.”
Said noted conservationist Valmik Thapar in the book’s foreword: “I hope this book will enlighten the average Indian forest manager so that he/she can evaluate scientifically the area under management. This will prevent frivolous interventions like manipulating habitat or even interfering with the natural cycles of animals. It is only then that he/she can take meaningful field decisions.”