Understanding the Association between Improved Household Living Standards and Reduced Forest Degradation
~ By Satvik Parashar
Can improving household living standards help control forest degradation? Interdisciplinary researchers from Universities across India and the USA (Columbia University, Ashoka University, University of Delaware, Azim Premji University and Johns Hopkins University) answer this question in their recent study. In the study, researchers quantify the role of improved living standards, such as durable housing, and alternatives to fuelwood for cooking, in alleviating pressure on forests and reducing degradation in the Central India Highlands.
The study region covers ~25 million hectares (7.6% of the total land area of India) across the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. Five thousand households were surveyed in 500 forest fringe villages (10 surveys per village) within 8 km of forest. The survey questions targeted two aspects of household living standards: 1) alternate energy for cooking, primarily the use of LPG or fuelwood for cooking, and 2) durability of house material i.e. kutcha or pucca house.
~ by Satvik Parashar
A recent study by interdisciplinary researchers ( from McGill University, Rutgers School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University and Deshpande Foundation, including some NCCI members from the University of Delaware, Columbia University, Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)) explores the efficacy of multiple cropping, seasonality and the socio-economic factors with respect to food security and especially dietary diversity. Specifically they explore the seasonal variation of dietary diversity and food security as well as the associations with multiple cropping and income sources in the region.
Food insecurity is a global problem, as 690 million people worldwide were still undernourished in 2019. Apart from this, the lack of diversity in dietary intake is responsible for chronic deficiency of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals, such as iron, vitamin A, and zinc). This deficiency is known as ‘hidden hunger’, and it affects around a quarter of the world population, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia. This calls for intensive agriculture strategies such as multiple cropping, which involves harvesting crops more than once a year. The study tests the efficacy of this cropping in increasing food security as well as dietary diversity among the households.
200 households were surveyed from 40 villages within five districts of Madhya Pradesh (see map below). Same individuals from each household were surveyed for the three seasons (summer, monsoon and winter), resulting in 600 surveys.
Map of study area showing location of the 40 study villages within the five study districts at the boundary of the Indian states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, along with the spatial distribution of winter cropping (the second crop) in 2016 (cropped area data source: Jain et al 2017).
Agroforestry as an avenue for enhanced livelihoods, lower ungulate-crop raiding and PES in central India
~ by Satvik Parashar
Since the last few decades, biodiversity conservation measures in India have largely been dependent on the creation of state-controlled protected areas (PAs). Despite the popularity, PAs in India face many conservation challenges that include fragmentation, insufficient size, limited connectivity, development pressure, close proximity to human population etc. Additionally, there can be resentment among some local populations in these areas as they are seldom part of the decision making processes that directly affect them. Inclusive strategies such as ecotourism and biodiversity-friendly agriculture are proving to be more sustainable steps in conservation. A recent paper focuses on the effectiveness of voluntary conservation initiatives on private agricultural lands such as agroforestry. For the involvement of landowners in agroforestry, the influence of factors such as 1) Program Design, 2) Land Characteristics, Demographic and socio-economic characteristics of landowners, 3) Socio-psychological variables of landowners has been studied in this paper.
Figure 1 :Program Factors and Landowner Characteristics that shape Landowner Preferences
~ by Amrita Neelakantan
The Narmada river has shaped much of the central Indian landscape. It is also known as "Life Line of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat” with its invaluable contribution to the two states in many quantifiable and unquantifiable ways providing water for the heart of India and all of the people and wild places that it flows through. The Narmada starts from the Amarkantak plateau in Anuppur district of Madhya Pradesh and flows westwards over a length of 1,312 km before draining into the Arabian sea. Bordered by the Vindhya and Satpura ranges, the Narmada is one of three major rivers flowing from the east to the west. More on the river basin – here.
Source: Photo; Map
A recent study by Prof. Tarun Kumar Thakur (from the Department of Environmental Science at the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University in Amarkantak) and collaborators uses satellite imagery to look at decadal changes in land use within the upper catchment of the Narmada river. The study strongly suggests planners of urbanizing areas utilize spatial information from satellites to conduct similar studies to manage water resources in the face of climate change related struggles ahead. As is now common knowledge, water will be one of the main resources we will have to manage to the best of our abilities given uncertainty in monsoon rainfall and growing urban centres in central India.
An important consideration is that the Narmada and its tributaries such as Gayatri, Savitri, Kapila, Baitarini, Arandi emerging from Amarkantak region are all are fed by rain water. In years with ample rainfall there is a consequent positively correlation to the flow in these rivers. The Maikal range where these tributaries and the Narmada originate are under tremendous anthropogenic stress – indicators of which are clear in the changing land use and land cover dynamics as described for the Narmada catchment in this study.
~ by Mansi Monga
Project Dhvani takes you into the world of forests like never before. In 2018, NCCI members – Pooja Choksi, Sarika Khanwilkar and Vijay Ramesh began their journey of collecting data in the form of sounds (bioacoustics) for wildlife & forest management or as they like to call it ‘a mixtape from the forests of India’. These are used to detect biodiversity, and understand the relationship between biodiversity, land use cover and resource management.
The word ‘Dhvani’ comes from Sanskrit and means ‘Sound’, and sound is the essence of their project, becoming evident as we go on.
Using sound as scientific data for conservation efforts is as unique and intriguing as it sounds, and “opens a new window into the future of forests in India”.
Project Spotlight highlights our members' work in Central India.
|Network for Conserving Central India||