|Categories||Amphibians, Biodiversity, Habitats|
|Date||10 Jul 2019|
The Western Ghats of India, a global biodiversity hotspot, has experienced a 40% reduction in forest cover, and a four-fold increase in forest fragments in the last century. Moreover, only 9% of the Ghats is protected in reserves, while most of the remaining is dominated by human-use landscapes. One of the major land use transformations of the region is the conversion of forests to agro-plantations of tea, coffee, spices, rubber, etc. While some of these shade-grown crops like coffee and cardamom maintain a diverse and native canopy cover, others form large tracts of monocultured farms that drastically modify the landscape. Such habitat loss has been particularly detrimental to freshwater fauna, with an IUCN report showing that approximately 16% of the freshwater taxa in the Ghats were threatened with extinction. Globally, riparian buffers have successfully restored stream habitats and shielded these ecosystems from adjacent land use change. This has enhanced the conservation value of streams while also improving ecosystem services provided by them. Among the benefits observed are flood control, regulation of erosion and sediment load, decreasing chemical inflow from agriculture and the improved habitat quality and connectivity for most animals.
In this study we focus on using an evidence-based approach to identify future riparian restoration sites within privately owned agro-plantations of the Anamalai Hills of the Western Ghats. The prioritization will be based on criteria that would maximally benefit biodiversity while ensuring minimum economic damage for landowners. Combining these empirical approaches with stakeholder values and needs will better succeed in the long-term. The advantages of such a restoration project will far exceed local biodiversity conservation goals. Over 3 million people depend for freshwater that arise in the catchments of the Anamalai Hills in a state of India that frequently experiences drought conditions. Protecting these riparian habitats has the potential to secure freshwater sustainability in the region.
Read about Vishnupriya's previous project https://www.rufford.org/projects/vishnupriya_sankararaman or for more information contact: