Many protected areas in India too small, reveals study

Many protected areas in India too small, reveals study

The entrance of Bandipur Tiger Reserve.

A scientific assessment by a consortium of international scientists has found that many protected areas for wildlife in the country were too small to maintain a full complement of species.

The scientists observe that for policy makers, two main goals should be the development of monitoring plans for “eco-sensitive zones” around protected areas, and a strong emphasis on preserving such areas already established by the government.

The assessment was carried out by National Center for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Duke University, University of Chicago, Centre for Wildlife Studies and others. The study has called for more scientific research in protected areas to tackle the lack of data on the subject.

The review article “Protected areas and biodiversity conservation in India” published in the international journal of Biological Conservation was led by Dr Mousumi Ghosh-Harihar of NCBS along with others.

It analysed the status of existing protected areas by looking at aspects such as land area covered, threats faced and connectivity. The support these protected areas receive from the government such as the governing laws, local initiatives and ecotourism were also reviewed by the team.

“The review (not only) highlights the importance and potential of tourism, but also how these benefits must go to locals,” said Prof Trevor D Price, Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago. “And finally, India must look to the northeast, which is one of the most species-rich regions of the world. It is here that threats of development and poaching are extreme,” he said, according to a release.

“Indian protected areas are supported by strong laws and significant government investments in protection. However long-term success requires better integration of local communities, NGOs and individuals in the decision and management processes,” Dr Krithi K Karanth, one of the authors of the study, added.