~ By Satvik Parashar
Cropping intensity is defined as the number of seasons in which crops are planted in a single year. An increase in tubewell construction since the 1960s has largely increased cropping intensity across India, but this has caused intense extraction of water, which has resulted in the rapid depletion of aquifers across much of India. A recent study by an interdisciplinary group of researchers estimates the association between groundwater use, crop production and groundwater depletion. This would be crucial to assess the potential production losses that may occur due to overexploitation of groundwater. The focus of the study is on winter cropped areas because winter agriculture is primarily dependent on groundwater for irrigation. The analyses is at the national level with important take-aways for central India.
Figure 1 in study: Mean winter cropped area from 2000–2001 to 2015–2016 Cropped area is shown (A) across India, (B) in a highly cropped region in Punjab, and (C) in a medium-intensity cropped region in Bihar. Pixels that were never cropped are highlighted in white, pixels that were 100% cropped across all 16 years are highlighted in dark green, and pixels for which cropped area information was not found are highlighted in gray.
How Bio-Climatic Factors and Climate Change Govern the Distribution of Major NTFP Species Distribution in Central India?
~ By Satvik Parashar
Species occurrence and their distributions are not random phenomenon but governed by a number of factors. Identifying these factors would help in predicting possible species ranges. A recent study (Yadav et al., 2021) discusses how such factors and climate change affects few of the floral species in the Central Indian Landscape that are important for Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs). The six tree species considered were - Mahua (M. longifolia), Achar (B. lanzan), Aonla (E. officinalis), Behera (T. bellirica), Harad (T. chebula) and Bhutya/ Kullu (S. urens).
The study site lies in the Central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, where the species occurrence records were collected through field surveys from the districts of Hoshangabad and Mandla, between 2013 and 2017.
Predictive vegetation modelling was used to predict suitable habitats for these species under future climate scenarios for the years - 2050 and 2080. The objective of the study was to help management planning for the long-term resilience of these species.
Ecotourism as an opportunity for many challenges in lesser-known protected areas of central India landscape
~ By Pakhi Das
India has an established network of protected areas spread across the length and breadth of the country. Every year, the government proposes demarcation of more areas for creating national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, yet conservation of endangered species continues to be a national challenge. This begs the question- is the full potential of the existing protected areas in terms of conservation or tourism being utilized? A recent paper examines six lesser-known protected areas (PAs) in the state of Madhya Pradesh and determines certain site-specific challenges and potential solutions for their smooth management.
The study spans protected areas across central Indian landscape- the Dinosaur Fossil National Park, Sardarpur wildlife sanctuary, Gandhi Sagar wildlife sanctuary, Ralamandal wildlife sanctuary, Kheoni wildlife sanctuary and Sanjay-Dubri Tiger Reserve. Key informant interviews and focused group discussions were conducted with multiple stakeholders including local community members, forest department officials and industrialists with operations in the region.
~ By Satvik Parashar
A recent study lead by Dr. Benjamin Clark explores the association of groundwater recharge and infiltration for different proportions of forest cover and agricultural land in the Central India Highlands (CIH). The evapotranspiration (ET) trade-off hypothesis helps us understand how forests and croplands differ in the ways they collect and release water. Forests have higher infiltration and ground-water recharge, but also have a higher rate of evapotranspiration. On the other hand, in paddy croplands, infiltration and recharge is slow, but they have greater depression storage and reduced ET loss when compared to forests.
The study was conducted in the Central Indian Highlands spanning the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan. The landscape contains nearly 8% forest and around 88% agricultural land. It is drained by five major rivers, namely Ganga, Narmada, Tapi, Godavari, and Mahanadi
Figure 1: Central Indian highlands with the five major basins delineated. Forest cover is shown in green while agriculture is in yellow derived from the European Space Agency (ESA) Land Cover 2010 data reclassified. The inset map shows the sampling area for infiltration tests and the final sampled locations. The color of the sample locations represents the land cover.
The study used hydrological modelling to determine groundwater recharge and evapotranspiration loss for each land use type and for different proportions of forest cover. Forest cover percentage ranged from 5% to 75% with intervals at 5%, along with additional two values of 2% (approximate current minimum for some basins) and 33% (India’s target COP21 NDC). Saturated hydraulic conductivity (Kfs) was used to understand the groundwater scenario for each land-use class. According to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Kfs is a measure of the ease with which pores of a saturated soil permit water movement. Teak plantations had the highest Kfs value of 23.2 mm/h and cropland had the least value of 6.7mm/h. Forest had a value of 20.2mm/h. Suggesting that forests and plantations allow have a higher rate at which water can move deeper into soils to replenish ground water. However, this does not account for water lost from plant use in these environments by ET, which the models need to subtract to provide management inferences. Two pathways were used to determine the hydrological impact of forest cover in CIH:
1. The first pathway analyzed hydrological change when basin mean forest cover was increased in an arbitrary, unplanned manner.
2. The second pathway involved analyzing landscape hydrology, when forest cover was increased by converting non-paddy agriculture land, so as to optimize groundwater recharge.
Credit: Sarika Ann Khanwilkar
The latest Voluntary National Review Report (VNR) 2020 of India states that India has fully adopted the SDG framework and has aligned its development priorities with the Global Goals and mentions that Government of India’s flagship program, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) launched 2016 to combat the dependence on biomass for cooking, improving women’s health and empowerment has already achieved its target of enabling 80 million households to access LPG for cooking as of September 2019.
However, multiple studies undertaken recently have discovered that while PMUY allowed for LPG access and affordability, the program did not monitor LPG use after adoption. In order to determine the impact of the PMUY for rural households, Sarika Khanwilkar (Columbia University and NCCI member) and other co-authors of a studied the socioeconomic and environmental drivers of cooking fuel choice and firewood collection in rural Indian households living near forests in the Central Indian Landscape. They specifically assessed the influence of LPG ownership over time on seasonal household firewood collection patterns.
Project Spotlight highlights our members' work in Central India.
|Network for Conserving Central India||