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A project on ‘An Action Oriented Locale Specific Conservation Awareness Program For Prioritised Wetlands in Maharashtra’

The project ‘An Action Oriented Locale Specific Conservation Awareness Program For Prioritised Wetlands in Maharashtra’ is funded by Ministry of Environment and Forest and is implementation by Bharati Vidyapeeth Institute of Environment Education and Research at three selected sites, ie. Jayakwadi, Bhigwan and Nandur-Madhameshwar in Maharashtra State.

The project promotes local initiatives on key conservation issues. The project has been creating public awareness about local environmental concerns, which has brought about increased ability of the community to think of alternate local livelihood opportunities, such as eco-tourism which can support sustainable use of natural resources. The material produced demonstrates why it is critically important to protect and conserve the biodiversity of these three important wetland ecosystems in Maharashtra.

‘Use of GIS for wildlife management’ funded by the Ministry of Environment and Forests 

This project done in the Ahmednagar and Sholapur districts of Maharashtra state built upon an earlier project that dealt with mitigation of conflicts.  The data collected fro the earlier project was put on to a GIS system to develop landuse maps.  These are presently being used to design strategies for conservation of the blackbuck in the view of extensive irrigation in the project are which is converting their habitat into agricultural lands.

‘Strategy for Enhancing Biodiversity Education and Awareness’ funded by the world Wide Fund For Nature- India and the Biodiversity Support Program which is a USAID Consortium.

The Biodiversity Conservation Prioritisation Project (BCPP) had a large number of modules under several Project leaders to assess the status of biodiversity at different sites, suggest through a participatory process a framework for understanding the status of wild plant and animal species as well as that of wilderness habitats. It also focused attention on community participation in documenting and managing biodiversity at the community level. This  project led to a practical and implementable action orientated strategy to further the cause of biodiversity conservation in the country.

Study of wildlife habitat changes in the fragmented forests of the Dang, South Gujarat, using aerial photo documentation’funded by theMinistry of Environment and Forest, Government of India

This project involves use of aerial photographs of the Dangs taken in 1989 for an earlier project- the ‘Dangs Ecological Project’. This project has identified percent loss of trees in the area considering that the Forest Department has given certain special rights to the tribals in the Dangs and is in the process of suggesting man agent strategies.

‘Study of status of infusion of environmental concepts in school curricula and the effectiveness of its delivery’through theIndia Environment Management Capacity funded by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India, New Delhi through the World Bank.

This very important and prestigious project involves analyzing the textbooks of all the 32 states of the country to assess the level of infusion of environmental concepts in school curricula in the textbooks of Science, Social Studies and Languages as well conducting a sample study in 10 states of the country to assess teaching methods presently used for delivering environmental concepts in schools to provide insights into the methods and materials being used to teach these concepts in an effective way and to investigate the major barriers towards effective environmental education.  In the pilot phase the recommendations of this project are being implemented in six states in the country. 

Evaluation of the Education in the School System (EESS) Program

This study is the Phase II Study of the project, ‘Study of Status of infusion of environmental concepts in schools curricula and the effectiveness of its delivery.’
While the Phase I study produced not only an extensive database on the environmental content of textbooks but identified gaps and deficiencies as well as pointed out those lessons in a text book that contained an adequate level of information on environmental issues.  It also demonstrated that the way in which most books have been written do not create a heightened level of awareness of local environmental issues that affect the lives of students.  The Phase II study involved implementing the recommendations of Phase I through environmentalizing the text books.  Eight states were selected and model ‘environmentalized’ text books were written for classes VI to VIII for the Sciences, Social Sciences and Language text books.  This project evaluated the Phase II project through a well designed methodology. 

‘A conservation awareness and action program for an ecologically fragile region using local traditional values’ American Association for the Advancement of Science, USA

The aim of this project was to study community perceptions on biodiversity with a focus on gaps in traditional information in relation to modern ‘thought’ process with a view to identify how local people felt as these can be bridged.
This study highlighted the fact that while local people understand  plants and animals that they used or worshipped they  did not understand the broader implications of conserving biodiversity nor were they concerned about it.  A locale specific conservation awareness program for communities and schools was designed based on the gaps identified during the study.  This brought about not only an enhanced awareness of the value of biodiversity in their own areas but also motivated them to implement conservation action programs, such as growing indigenous species of plants, preventing sale of private forest land, setting up alternatives for fuelwood, etc.

‘Survey of Protected Areas in Maharashtra’ Project funded by the Ministry of Environment and Forests through the Indian Institute of Public Administration.

This project developed a databse on various issues related to management of 36 PAs in Maharashtra. This survey of the Protected Areas in Maharashtra aimed at collecting and analyzing information on the Protected Areas in Maharashtra towards preparing a comprehensive report that will help in developing an ongoing monitoring system for assessing the status of each Protected Area. This data was used for developing management guidelines for individual Protected Areas in Maharashtra.

Project on ‘Inland Wetlands of India’funded by the Ministry of Environment and Forests through Salim Ali Center for Ornithology and Natural History, Coimbatore.

The BVIEER in collaboration with the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History  (SACON) implemented the project ‘Inland Wetlands of India’ for Maharashtra State. Eight districts in Maharashtra were selected based on the satellite imagery interpretation of wetlands in the State. The wetlands were selected on the basis of their size.  NGOs from eight districts namely Pune, Sholapur, Nasik, Aurangabad,  Nagpur were selected for implementation of this project at the district level. The workshop to orient the participants to techniques in sample collection, data collection and bird, fish and plant identification in field  was organized.  The outputs of the project have added inputs into national database on wetlands.  The maps prepared from this analysis will be used for the management of the wetlands in the state by the Forest Department and the concerned authorities.

‘Ecorestorative strategies to preserve the biologically sensitive protected areas in Maharashtra with special reference to grassland protected area management’  funded by the Maharashtra State Forest Department

The project brought out the biological value and conservation potential of the grasslands which are now considered as National Assets. In such areas it was found that, sustainable use can revert grasslands to a state which includes more native species including grasses, forages and their dependant fauna.
The study carried out in Phaltan, Nannaj and Rehekuri in Satara, Sholapur and Ahmednagar discticts in Maharashtra state has proved the point that unless grazing pressures on grasslands are reduced they cannot be conserved. The project designed a conservation strategy for grassland PAs in Maharashtra at the landscape level, ecosystem level, species level and at conflict level.  It also designed eco-development strategies and a participatory approach for grassland PA management. During the period of the project Forest Department personnel were trained in field techniques and starategies for monitoring grassland Protected Areas.  

‘Identification of biorich patches and corridors between protected areas in the northern sector of the Western Ghats for promoting conservation action’ funded by the Indira Gandhi Conservation Monitoring Center of the World Wide Fund for Nature-India New Delhi

The study has identified forest islands and gaps and has estimated their size the extent of isolation from each other and the status of existing or possible corridors in the main sector of the study area from Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary to Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary.. A map of forest areas referred to as ‘islands’ having a forest cover greater than 80% and those between 40% to 80% have been identified. An analyses of this information has provided a deeper understanding of gaps between forest fragments the existence of gaps in the forest and corridors between the two Protected Areas has helped identify sites that need to be notified as new Protected Areas.
This has been discussed at meetings of the Wildlife Advisory Board, Maharashtra and two new Protected Areas in the region have been proposed and accepted. The boundaries for these two PAs of Kalsubai and Mulshi have been selected on the bases of Satellite images based on both ecological and administrative criteria. The project has thus been the bases for initiating a comprehensive rational conservation strategy at the regional level for this biologically rich and ecologically sensitive area.

‘Key conservation issues in the semi-arid Deccan plateau’ Project UNDER THE MAB SCHEME funded by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India, New Delhi.

The  primary objective of this study was aimed at mitigating the conflict between conservation goals and human utilisation of natural resources.  The key issues were to minimize the effect of crop damage by blackbuck, develop a strategy to reduce predation of sheep by wolf and restore biological values in existing Drought Prone Area Program plantations. The area of work was in Ahmednagar, Sholapur and Satara districts of Maharashtra.