Biodiversity and resilience

A study to unravel the arthropod diversity in chemical vs organic agricultural farms lying adjacent to forests was conducted in three distinct geographical regions of the NBR – Sigur, Hassanur and Kotagiri. Findings suggest that there is high diversity of parasitic wasps, an important group of bio control agents in organic as well as chemical farms. Nine families of spiders, a critical group of predators of pests, were obtained in the sampling. In the chemical farm near Kotagiri, bee fauna was depauperate while organic farms held high bee density with 9 species of Halictid bees.

As part of the global pollinator study of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the pollinator deficit protocol was employed to assess pollinator deficit in coffee holdings of indigenous peo¬ple in the Kotagiri slopes. There was also a socio-eco¬nomic evaluation of pollinator-friendly practices.

Ecological monitoring with Village Naturalists

Ecological monitoring is currently done across in nine villages across the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve by village naturalists who have been trained in monitoring and recording data on forest usage by communities and the changes that have been observed in the forests. This activity is a continuation of the pilot done in 2009 and will be continued as a long term monitoring programme and will be extended into other villages in due course.

Human Wildlife Conflict in the Western Ghats

The human wildlife conflict project envisages to explore the various perspectives that are present in any instance of human wildlife conflict in the Western Ghats in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Identifying the various stakeholders and agents of change in incidents of conflict is one of the main thrusts of this project.

The study not only accommodates perspectives towards human wildlife conflict, but also perspectives towards the demarcation and designation of wildlife corridors, existing compensation mechanisms and the possibility of forming a group of people who would be participating in the mitigation of human wildlife conflict. We aim to achieve the above by collaborating with various agencies who work in diverse areas of human wildlife conflict in the Western Ghats.

Human Gaur Conflict in Kotagiri

The human gaur conflict project is one of the more exciting studies being conducted by the conservation group. The study aims to map and monitor the movement patterns of Gaur around Kotagiri town, using video Recordings and GPS . The possibility of having local residents participate in the project by making observations or by reporting any observations to the Community Radio Station is being explored.The findings from the study will be used to mitigate Human Gaur conflict.

Payment for Ecosystem Services

The pollination component of the PES project of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is in its pilot stage. Loss of forest cover (bee nesting habitats) and pesticide use on bee foraging agricultural farms can lead to a decline in bee diversity and abundance, and this is the conservation premise. The project is exploring what potential transactions would ensure the flow of pollination services to small farmers and estates, and what incentives would help promote organic. In this vein, dialogues have been initiated with private estates and the State Horticultural Department.