Action outreach

ATREE interacts with local communities to contribute to change on the ground. ATREE has fostered long-term engagement with site-specific issues and stakeholders at.ATREE’s six Community-based Conservation Centres in Darjeeling, Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu western Ghats, Vembanad wetland, Kankapura, MM Hills and Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple in Karnataka. Apart from these formal long-term structures, ATREE has project related sites in Assam, Malaprabha catchment, and Odisha.

Community-based Conservation Centres (CCC), also called field academies, are a long-term investment to developing researcher-local community interfaces. ATREE envisioned the concept of CCCs to provide a two-way interface for local communities and local institutions to evolve practical strategies for sustainable governance and co-management of forests and other natural resources. The CCCs or field academies are integral to the reach, productivity and effectiveness of the ATREE Academy for Conservation Science and Sustainability Studies. These field facilities provide ATREE staff the needed field presence to generate rigorous ground-based knowledge relevant to addressing local problems. They provide pertinent information that shapes public policy and serve as field research stations, besides providing various stakeholders physical space for networking and training.

Examples of projects at these sites reflect the diversity of issues addressed in these areas:

  • At Community-based Conservation Centres
    • Conservation and livelihood project in Darjeeling CCC
    • Vembanad CERC's annual fish count, school wetland conservation programme—Jalapaadom, participatory resource mapping etc.
    • Agasthyamalai CCC's promotion of community conservation initiatives at Vagaaikulam, research on climate and frogs, new frog and plant species discoveries etc.
    • BRT CCC's counter-mapping exercise on producing maps as per Soliga perception of the landscape and cultural sites, for which the ATREE team provided technical support; capacity building on issues concerning implementation of Recognition for Forest Rights Act in BRT WLS.
    • Kanakapura CCC's newly published guide (2012) on farmland tree diversity in this part of Karnataka, the result of eight years of collaboration with the farming community of the area.
    • The MM Hills CCC's work on invasive weed management with local communities and the Forest Department, which covers research on impacts of lantana on biodiversity, role of fire in lantana management, traditional wisdom pertaining to invasives management, and a livelihood programme that works towards poverty alleviation through training on process, craft and design of equipment using lantana.

  • Project sites, such as in Malaprabha, Orissa and Assam
    ATREE is working with the Forest Department and civil society networks in Assam to strengthen effective management of UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites of Manas and Kaziranga as part of the World Heritage Biodiversity-India programme. One outcome was that UNESCO upgraded Manas from its 19-year status of World Heritage Sites in Danger, to World Natural Heritage Site, in 2011.
  • Conservation education, World Environment Day activities, Vacation Training Programmes: Appreciation courses on nature and ecology, as well as on the science of studying these subjects.
  • TN Khoshoo Award and Lecture, which are peer-level recognition for practitioners of conservation and sustainable development.

Community-based Conservation Centres (CCC), also called field academies, are a long-term investment to developing researcher-local community interfaces. ATREE envisioned the concept of CCCs to provide a two-way interface for local communities and local institutions to evolve practical strategies for sustainable governance and co-management of forests and other natural resources. The CCCs or field academies are integral to the reach, productivity and effectiveness of the ATREE Academy for Conservation Science and Sustainability Studies. These field facilities provide ATREE staff the needed field presence to generate rigorous ground-based knowledge relevant to addressing local problems. They serve as field research stations, besides providing various stakeholders physical space for networking and training.

ATREE has five such community-based conservation centres :

Male Mahadeshwara Hills Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple WLS Kanakpura
     
Agasthyamalai
(Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve)
Vembanad Community Environmental Resource Centre Darjeeling

Natham- ATREE Community based Conservation Centre now managed by site partner CCD.

Where action counts more than words

In 2008, ATREE was appointed the implementing agency for UNESCO’s World Heritage Biodiversity Programme for India (WHBPI) in Assam. The objective was to create an implementory framework that could serve as a template for the long-term management and conservation of natural World Heritage Sites (WHS). The sites for this four-year project are Manas National Park and Kaziranga National Park in Assam.

Objective
To demonstrate replicable practices for long-term management and conservation of these protected areas.

Approach
The project includes ecological research as well as socio-economic components, in addition to management, governance and outreach activities. The principle underlying planning and implementation of the project is based on a consultative and participatory method, both formal and informal. Multiple stakeholders, ranging from government to non-government organizations, forest department and academics, park authorities and local communities associate at different levels of the project. An Advisory Committee chaired by the state chief wildlife warden guides project activities. The review of implementation is done by a Steering Committee chaired by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (GoI) and the donors.

Method

  1. Enhance stakes of local communities
  2. Build park-staff capacity
  3. Enable habitat connectivity
  4. Incorporate modern concepts of ecological and social science research in management and monitoring
  5. Strengthen management and governance policies
  6. Raise the profile of the world heritage sites

Results

Strengthening capacity

This has consisted of financial support for an elephant camp, beat camps and anti-poaching patrol. Wireless equipment, winter apparel and field items have been supplied to forest staff. Legal training on wildlife crimes has been organized for forest staff.

Involving local communities


ATREE is consulting with community for mechanisms to address human-wildlife conflict and is engaging local NGOs in project activities. The project has funded construction of anti-depredation watch-towers in the park-village fringes to protect farmland and prevent retaliation against wild animals. A vaccination camp has been undertaken for cattle owned by the forest-fringe villagers that may reduce transmission of cattle-borne disease from domestic bovid to their wild counterparts. An ambulance vehicle each has been provided to the two sites for transporting patients from fringe villages to hospitals for urgent medical treatment. Medical health camps for staff and villagers have been organized on site.

Habitat connectivity

Retro-reflective signboards have been placed along strategic locations to educate road/highway users of potential animal crossing zones in Kaziranga.

Research and monitoring

ATREE’s research team has initiated field work in Manas with camera-trap monitoring of prey-predator population and quadrats for vegetation study. The work will continue after the monsoon season.

Management and governance

A multi-stakeholder Advisory Committee to oversee implementation of the WHBPI project has been officially notified by the Government of Assam.

Raising profile in civil society


The project has introduced a unique scholarship scheme for students and young scholars covering primary and high school students from fringe villages of the national parks. Efforts have been initiated for pictorial documentation of biodiversity, and a new website has been developed for Kaziranga (www.worldheritagekaziranga.com). Most of these tasks will be intensified and continued in the forthcoming years of the project.

ATREE administers the project through its project office in Guwahati and field-based activities in the WHS, under the supervision of the Bangalore head-office. Ford Foundation, SM Sehgal Foundation and UN Foundation are the donor agencies for this project.

Team

  1. Niraj Kakati, Coordinator
  2. Dhritiman Das, Ph D Scholar
  3. Arunava Gupta, Project Associate
  4. Nilmani Rabha, Research Assistant
  5. Puspanjalee Das, Project Assistant
  6. Bhabananda Roy, Field Assistant
  7. Himangshu Sarma, Project Accounts Executive
  8. Gladwin Joseph, Project Supervisor

ATREE believes that unless children connect with the environment in their neighbourhoods they cannot relate to broader and remote environmental problems. Therefore, conservation education is an important part of ATREE's outreach and education programme. ATREE is in a unique position to impart hands-on, field-based conservation education using in-house resources - its natural and social scientists and research associates.

Method

ATREE emphasizes a learning-by-doing approach, in which children interact with their environment in a structured manner and learn how to value nature and conserve what sustains us all. This learning draws from the 'Learning for Life' approach where the head, heart and hands (3Hs) are taken into account to help children and teachers think (head), feel (heart) and do (hand), rather than limiting learning by cognitive skills only.

The Web of Life game that allows children to discover how elements in nature are related to each other

Our focus has also been on regaining a rooted local perspective on conservation by focusing on local landscapes, their rich natural resource, and conservation issues. We believe that appreciation of local dimensions of conservation will foster a more 'owned' understanding of global issues rather than the other way around.

Our experience has shown that education and awareness are synergized by strategically linking them to field-based interventions and action-research. These provide real-world opportunities to educate both rural and urban children through hands-on activities on biodiversity related challenges and solutions. Learning opportunities and activities integrated into the school curriculum go a long way in fostering a sense of stewardship to ones community and surroundings, while making basic concepts clear.

ATREE believes that conservation education is a permanent process in which individuals gain awareness of their environment and acquire the knowledge, values, skills, experiences, and the determination, which will enable them to act individually and collectively to solve present and future environmental problems.

Principles guiding ATREE conservation education approach

  • Hands-on, field based experiential learning - learning for life with head, heart and hands. It is linked to ongoing research programmes.
  • Learning must transcend the classroom, and the local land/bioscape must be the field laboratory.
  • Learning should impact student knowledge, awareness, and skill sets on conservation and linked issues.
  • Conservation education feeds into a local natural resource and biodiversity monitoring system. This could influence long-term changes to the landscape.
  • Learning impacts students, their families, and the communities.
  • Learning in conservation should include governance as well as biophysical issues, apart from biodiversity, ecosystems, agro-ecology, and livelihoods.
  • Inter-dependence and links will be a focus area - e.g. livelihoods and biodiversity, ecosystem health and biodiversity, ecological services and energy.
  • Programmes must aim for a teacher-lead effort.
  • Links to be established with existing government programmes pertaining to education and natural resource planning and management.
  • Conservation education should generate long-term monitoring information that schools can use for positive action.
  • Conservation education can be at the field level with schools, colleges and local communities. It can also be at the pedagogical level, where applied research leads to positive change or interventions at the local, regional or national level. It may also apply to policy change as the programme grows.
  • Conservation education is not viewed as just a programme to be implemented, but also something that we need to sensitise the organization staff to with regular inputs, and provide internal environmental guidelines to be followed.

Conservation education programme at ATREE

The six field sites, or community-based conservation centres - CCCs - in Kanakpura, MM Hills, BRT WLS, KMTR, Natham and Vembanad have been ideal catchment area for children and teachers from local schools and colleges in the last decade. In five of these sites (barring Vembanad), conservation education has been part of the larger Conservation and Livelihoods Project (C&LP). The need for conservation education has been driven by the observation that children are not familiar with biodiversity in their backyard. Knowledge of local biodiversity and bio-resource utilization and management are not passed down the generations, with the result that vital traditional knowledge on biodiversity and its management is being eroded. In 2008, ATREE carried out an assessment of potential for conservation education across four community-based conservation centres in order to develop a practical response to the need for sustained awareness on environment and conservation problems. Principles of ATREE conservation education approach that arise from this study have been shared above.

ATREE is also RRA - Regional Resource Agency in Karnataka, for the Department of Biotechnology's (DBT's) Natural Resource Awareness Club - DNA Club. Through the DNA Club, ATREE has facilitated conservation education programmes in Ankola, Ujire, T. Narsipura, Dharwad and Bangalore. ATREE regional offices in Delhi and Darjeeling, and headquarters at Bangalore also provide space for opportunity-based urban student interactions.

Conservation education at the field academies
Kanakpura
Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary
Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve
Natham
Vembanad

ATREE's role in Department of Biotechnology's Nature Awareness Club - DNA Club

The TN Khoshoo Memorial Award was instituted in 2004 to honour the world-renowned environmental scientist, Dr Triloki Nath Khoshoo. Dr Khoshoo was appointed India’s first Secretary of the Department of Environment, Government of India in 1982. He played a significant role in the development of India's environmental policy.

The TN Khoshoo Memorial Award was started by the Khoshoo Endowment Fund to encourage and promote individuals for outstanding achievements in the field of conservation and sustainable development. The award is a peer-level public recognition of excellence in the fields of conservation science, conservation policy and conservation action. The Fund is sponsored by Dr Khoshoo’s family and friends, ATREE, the Ford Foundation and the Institute of Rural Research and Development (an initiative of the SM Sehgal Foundation).

The award consists of a citation and a cash prize of Rs 100,000/- each. Apart from recognising outstanding contribution to ecology and environment in India, the award also supports two post-doctoral research programmes in biodiversity. Traditionally, a scholar of international standing is invited to deliver the Khoshoo Memorial Lecture after the award ceremonies. The award event is organised by ATREE.

The TN Khoshoo Memorial Award for 2014 goes to Prof Mahesh Rangarajan, researcher and historian, and Director of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi. The 11th award ceremony will be held in Bangalore, at the Alliance Française on Thursday, 6 November 2014.

This time, instead of the TN Khoshoo memorial Lecture, the organizers have planned a panel discussion on a topic that is crucial to discussions on environment: ‘Challenges to conservation in the context of a pro-growth development agenda’. The panel discussion will feature Prof Rangarajan; Praveen Bhargav, Managing Trustee, Wildlife First; and Vidya Athreya, Research Associate, Centre for Wildlife Studies and Wildlife Conservation Society– India chapter, and recipient of the TN Khoshoo Memorial Award in 2012. The discussion will be moderated by Shri Jairam Ramesh, who is also Chief Guest for the evening.

Khoshoo Endowment Committee

  • Ganesan Balachander, Director, ATREE gbalachander12@gmail.com
  • Prof. Kamal Bawa, Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts-Boston, kamal.bawa@umb.edu
  • Ms. Seema Paul, Program Director for India Energy Initiative, The Climate Works Foundation
  • Rajiv Khoshoo, raj.khoshoo@siemens.com
  • Year Awardees Chief Guest Guest Lecture
    2014 Mahesh Rangarajan, Director of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi Shri Jairam Ramesh Panel discussion on the topic: ‘Challenges to conservation in the context of a pro-growth development agenda’
    2013 Avani, civil society organization, Kumaon Himalaya   His Holiness, the Dalia Lama
    2012 Vidya Athreya   Dr. Madhav Gadgil
    Professor, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science; and Chairman, Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel, Global Environment Facility
    2011 Sandeep Tambe
    For his efforts in sustainability and community-based governance of commonproperty resources in Sikkim. ...more
    &
    Hemlata Pradhan
    For her documentation of Indian orchids ...more
     
     
    Elinor Ostrom
    2009 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, Distinguished Professor, Indiana University, Bloomington
    Founding Director, Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity, Arizona State University, Tempe
    2010 Joss Brooks
    For his work on eco-restoration initiatives ...more
    &
    Girish Sant
    For his work on research, training, and advocacy on policy issues ...more
     
     
    Dr. R K Pachauri
    Director General, The Energy and Resources Institute, Delhi.
    Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
    Director, Yale Climate and Energy Institute
    2009 Ashish Kothari
    For his work on conservation and livelihood issues ...more
    &
    Charudutt Mishra
    For his work on usage of natural resources and human-wildlife conflicts ...more
    Shri Shyam Saran
    Special Envoy of the Prime Minister on Climate Change Issues
    Dr. Charles Perrings
    Professor of Environmental
    Economics at Arizona
    State University
    2008 Ms Rebecca Pradhan
    For her contribution to conservation of Bhutan's biodiversity ...more
    Shri Digvijay Singh
    Senior Congress (I)
    politician
    Dr. Ramachandra Guha
    Author and Historian
    2007 Dr. B. R. Ramesh
    For his contribution to
    the application of technology
    for effective conservation ...more
    Dr. Jairam Ramesh
    Minister of State for Commerce
    Prof. M. S. Swaminathan
    Founder and Chairman
    M.S. Swaminathan Research
    Foundation
    2006 Dr. Anupam Mishra
    For his contribution to environment protection and water conservation ...more
    Mr. M. C. Mehta
    Supreme Court Lawyer
    Prof. David W. Ehrenfeld
    Distinguished Professor
    of Biology at Rutgers
    2005 Ms. Nafisa Barot
    For her work in Gujarat with local communities to achieve self-reliance ...more
    &
    Dr. Anil P. Joshi
    For his work to promote sustainable livelihoods in the Himalayas ...more
    Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia
    Deputy Chairman, Planning
    Commission, GoI
    Dr. Sam Pitroda
    Chairman, World Tel Ltd.,
    and National Knowledge
    Commission
    2004 Dr. R. Sukumar
    For his contribution to the conservation of Asian elephants ...more
    Dr. M. G. K. Menon,
    Dr. Vikram Sarabhai
    Distinguished Professor,
    ISRO
    Dr. Peter H. Raven
    President, Missouri
    Botanical Gardens, St Louis

    Recipients of the TN Khoshoo Memorial Award, 2012

    Vidya Athreya

    Vidya Athreya received the 2012 TN Khoshoo Memorial Award for her work on the social, cultural, biological and behavioral aspects of human-leopard conflict in human dominated landscapes. This followed from her interest in how wild animals live in human use landscapes, and the adaptation by people and animals to each other’s presence.

    Vidya Athreya is Research Associate with the Kaati Trust, Pune and also with the Centre for Wildlife Studies and WCS–India, Bangalore. She has worked with the Maharashtra Forest Department to decrease conflict by using knowledge-based management interventions. Her website, http://www.projectwaghoba.in/ provides relevant information on leopard ecology, conservation and management for the forest department and other stakeholders.

    Vidya Athreya did her Masters in Ecology from University of Pondicherry as well as from the University of Iowa. She is a member of the IUCN cat specialist group.

    Recipients of the TN Khoshoo Memorial Award, 2011

    Sandeep Tambe

    Sandeep Tambe is Special Secretary in the Department of Rural Management and Development, Government of Sikkim. He has been responsible for the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), for which, today, Sikkim has achieved 85 days of ensured employment, against the national average of 47 days. Sikkim also scores high on the transparency safeguards front, having a universal coverage of independent, quality social audits.

    Sandeep Tambe has been actively involved in the revival of springs, streams and lakes in drought prone areas of the state that has contributed rural water security. Before this, during his stint in the Forest Department and The Mountain Institute, Tambe was instrumental in initiating participatory protection of the biodiversity rich protected areas of Sikkim. This initiative, taken up in partnership with eco-development committees and local NGOs, has resulted in a measurable reduction of the threats to forests and wildlife.

    Sandeep Tambe is a member of the Indian Forest Service. He graduated from IIT Mumbai, did his MSc from the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy (FRI) and has a Ph.D. from the Wildlife Institute of India. He is photography, alpine flowers and trekking enthusiast.

    Hemlatha Pradhan

    Hemlata Pradhan’s aim is to ‘highlight India’s wild orchids and other plants in nature to bring about an awareness of what we are unwittingly losing…’

    Hemlata Pradhan is a botanical illustrator, who comes from a family that has been raising orchids for five generations. She graduated with a diploma in Botanical Illustration with distinction from the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, and a Master's degree in Natural History Illustration and Ecological Studies from the Royal College of Art, London. She is the winner of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Gold Medal as well as the 18th world Orchid Conference Gold Medal for her paintings of Indian Jewel Orchids and the Indian Wild Orchids. Her works are housed at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England and were exhibited at the British Museum's Clore Education Centre in 2009. Her orchid paintings also appear on a set of six postage stamps of Bhutan.

    Hemlata Pradhan is passionate about the conservation of endangered orchids and other Indian plants. At present, she is involved in setting up a Natural History Art Institute in Kalimpong, Darjeeling, West Bengal, and getting Natural History Illustration recognition as a Fine Art subject in India. She is the First Honorary Secretary and Member of the ISROSG- Indian Sub-Continent Regional Orchid Specialist Group of the IUCN-International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources/SSC-Species Survival Commission and the Trustee President of the Himalayan Trust for Natural History Art, Kalimpong, Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, West Bengal, India.

    Recipients of the TN Khoshoo Memorial Award, 2010

    Joss Brooks

    Joss Brooks came to Auroville near Pondicherry in 1970 to participate in the early pioneering work of the newborn community. In 1973 he established Pitchandikulam, dedicated to restoring the eroded 60 acres of Auroville Green Belt land. Now it is a vibrant forest with more than 600 species of plants, many with medicinal value, and a nursery that grows the endangered species of the almost extinct Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest found along the Coromandel Coast. In 1993, associating with the Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT), he developed the medicinal plant conservation park at Pitchandikulam. In 2002, the Nadukuppam Environment Education Centre was founded at a government high school near the wetland, from where a team of environmental education teachers from local villages began to work with school children, women’s groups and farmers to implement eco-restoration initiatives. In 2004, Pitchandikulam Forest Consultants was created to implement restoration work in other areas of Tamil Nadu, including the city of Chennai. A 12-acre garbage dump at Otteri in North Chennai has been transformed into a green lung of indigenous vegetation. In 2005, the Pitchandikulam team began work on a master plan for a 350-acre wetland site at the Adyar estuary. Over the following years, the typical urban wasteland of garbage and sewage has changed into an example of species regeneration, practical environmental education and citizen-government collaboration. The Adyar Poonga wetland restoration project is still very much underway, yet evolving into a crucial larger initiative to cleanse and transform the other polluted waterways of Chennai.

    Girish Sant

    Girish Sant is co-founder of Prayas, a non-profit organization based in Pune, whose Energy Group initiatives he coordinates. He has been involved in research, training, and advocacy on policy issues in the power sector for the last seventeen years. His interest in energy policy started with his involvement in the Sardar Sarovar Project and on nuclear power. His present work relates to issues of renewable energy policy, oil and gas policy as well as the international context of energy-climate linkages. He has a keen interest in realizing the massive potential of energy efficiency and pro-people energy policy, by promoting innovative policy options.

    Girish Sant is a member of the Planning Commission’s Expert Group on ‘Low Carbon Growth’, and has also served on ‘Working Group on Power’ for the 11th Plan, PMO committee on the draft National Energy Efficiency Mission, Advisory Committee of Central Electricity Regulatory Commissions, and Supreme Court Committee on Energy from Municipal Solid Waste. In 2008, he received the Distinguished Energy Alumnus Award of the Department of Energy Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay.

    Prayas Energy Group does analysis-based advocacy to further public interest in the electricity sector. Prayas has played a significant role in advancing transparency and accountability among electricity regulatory commissions and continues to intervene in regulatory cases in the state of Maharashtra, appellate tribunal and in the Supreme Court. Prayas, along with the World Resources Institute (WRI) in Washington, coordinates the Electricity Governance Initiative, which is a global coalition of civil society groups committed to improving governance in the power sector.

    GirishSant underscored the collective nature of Prayas’ workby accepting the award as part of Prayas (Energy Group).

    Recipients of the TN Khoshoo Memorial Award, 2009

    Ashish Kothari

    Ashish Kothari is an environmentalist who works at the grass roots level with various people's movements as well as with various government committees and international associations.

    He is a founding member of Kalpavriksh, an Indian environmental NGO active on conservation and livelihood issues since 1979. The T. N. Khoshoo Memorial Award in Conservation recognises not only Ashish's outstanding contributions to conservation, but also those of Kalpavriksh.

    Ashish's interest in environmental and developmental issues related to big dam projects motivated him to participate in people's movements such as the Narmada Bachao Andolan and at the same time be a member of the Environmental Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects, Government of India, from 1993 to 1995. He has contributed to environmental policy formulation and governance by being member of various influential government committees.

    He has advocated a socially and culturally more sensitive process of wildlife conservation for the last twenty years. He has been able to direct this interest to serving as the Co-Chair of the IUCN Inter-Commission Theme on Indigenous/Local Communities, Equity, and Protected Areas (TILCEPA) and other such similar groups.

    Over and above his role as Coordinator, Project on Community Based Conservation in South Asia, Kalpavriksh, and International Institute of Environment and Development, London, Ashish has associated with other Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) such as Greenpeace, Centre for Communication and Development Studies and Bombay Natural History Society, in various capacities.

    Ashish is also a prolific writer, having authored or edited 25 books, and over 150 articles, on environment, development, and conservation issues.

    Charudutt Mishra

    Charudutt Mishra is a conservation scientist who has tried to understand and work on various areas related to the usage of natural resources, the human impacts of natural resource use, and human-wildlife conflicts. He is the Science and Conservation Director of the Snow Leopard Trust (SLT), and one of the founders of the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF). He served as NCF's Executive Director between 2002 and 2008, and also headed the India Program of the SLT. He serves on the editorial board of the journal Animal Conservation and is a member of the IUCN's Cat Specialist Group.

    He has a Ph.D. in Ecology and Natural Resource Conservation from the Resource Ecology Group, Wageningen University (The Netherlands). Charu's chief academic interests lie in understanding pastoralism and resource use, human impacts on wildlife, ecology of human-wildlife conflicts, large herbivore community ecology, and carnivore ecology.

    Charu also tries to dedicate time and effort to extend conservation science for societal welfare, on-ground conservation, and policy. His recent work involves setting up community-based wildlife conservation and conflict-resolution programs, conducting research and exploration, teaching and guiding Ph.D. students, and working with governments to set up wildlife reserves and formulate conservation policy.

    His current work spans the Himalaya and several Central Asian countries where he is involved in guiding research and conservation efforts. He was involved in post-conflict wildlife assessments in Afghanistan on behalf of the United Nations. Expeditions led by him in Arunachal Pradesh led to the discovery of the Arunachal macaque, M. munzala, a primate new to science.

    Charu is a recipient of the Whitley Gold Award in 2005 and the Golden Ark Award in 2008.

    Recipient of the TN Khoshoo Memorial Award, 2008

    Rebecca Pradhan

    A repository of knowledge on the flora and fauna found throughout the Himalayas, Rebecca Pradhan, can easily recount the genus and species of over 90% of Bhutan's plant life off the top of her head. Rebecca is a true naturalist, working and writing about birds as easily as about plants. While her academic qualifications include a B.Sc and a post graduation in Library Science, whatever she has learnt about plants and animals has been through a process of self-education. Impressed by her knowledge, Rebecca was invited to spend two terms as a Mercer Fellow of Arnold Arboretum in Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. With her vast botanical knowledge, innate skill and passion, Rebecca has already impacted conservation efforts in Bhutan.

    Originally from Kalimpong in India, Rebecca, has been living and working in Bhutan for many years. Starting her career as a school teacher in 1972, Rebecca moved on as the Head of the Herbarium and Forestry Research Library, Department of Forestry, Royal Government of Bhutan in 1985. Since 2000 she has worked as an Ecologist with the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN), Bhutan, where she is at present involved with the White-bellied Heron Project and in conducting biodiversity surveys of RSPN conservation areas. Over the years, Rebecca, has also been closely involved in a number of surveys to study and document the flora and fauna of Bhutan.

    Rebecca has written extensively about the extraordinary biological richness of the north-eastern Himalayas, and particularly Bhutan, a region of which our knowledge is very meagre. She is the author of the books 'Wild Rhododendrons of Bhutan' and 'Threatened Birds in Bhutan'. She is also the principal compiler and data contributor of the Important Bird Areas of Bhutan for the Birdlife Conservation Series 'Important Bird Areas in Asia.' She has also produced a DVD on the ecology of the white-bellied heron. Rebecca has done much more than her written papers would indicate; for example she has discovered new species of bamboos, oaks and other plant groups. In her work she is involved with wildlife officials, community members and non-governmental organisations, and also teaches school children about wildlife in her spare time.

    Rebecca's immense knowledge of the biota and ecosystems of the eastern Himalayas is vital to the future of Bhutan's resources. And she herself is committed to advancing further the knowledge about and the conservation of the pristine forests of Bhutan.

    Recipient of the TN Khoshoo Memorial Award, 2007

    Dr. B.R. Ramesh

    A scientist and conservationist, Dr. B.R. Ramesh has contributed greatly to the application of new technologies for effective conservation. He completed his M.Sc. Botany at Bangalore University before doing a Ph.D. in Ecology at University of Madras. A taxonomist by training he has been working at the French Institute of Pondicherry (an autonomous Research Organization under the Ministry of French Foreign Affairs) since 1982. He is currently the Director of Research in the Ecology Department. His research interests include phytogeography, landscape ecology, community ecology, conservation biology, and forest management. He continues to actively train the younger generation and forest officials in field ecology and taxonomy.

    Most of his work has been carried out in the Western Ghats, which is considered a biodiversity hotspot. He has published over 25 research papers, 6 books, 2 CD ROMS, 7 vegetation maps and 1 atlas. His vegetation maps of the Western Ghats and Atlas of Endemic tree species have become classic baseline reference materials for foresters, ecologists and conservationists. He has studied the plant diversity across different ecosystems to develop biological indicator values for measuring disturbance in ecosystems. Using Geographical Information Systems he has developed wildlife management models for a Tiger Reserve and for several Wildlife Sanctuaries in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. His studies have shown that despite large-scale disturbance, considerable amount of undisturbed forest areas exist in Kerala and these forest patches need management attention. As an expert consultant to Kerala Forest Department, he reviewed biodiversity components of Kerala Forestry Project, developed 'biodiversity conservation strategy and action plans' for the forestry sector as well as rationalized the existing protected area network in order to cover the substantial gaps in conservation. Going one step further, he developed an alternative model of integrated forest management using a landscape approach that would address not only biodiversity conservation but also socio-economic issues of local communities and other stakeholders.

    [Dr. B. R. Ramesh continues as the Director of Research, Department of Ecology at the French Institute of Pondicherry. The book Forest landscapes of the Southern Western Ghats, India: Biodiversity, human ecology and management strategies edited by him along with Rajan Gurukkal was released in 2007.]

    Recipient of the TN Khoshoo Memorial Award, 2006

    Dr. Anupam Mishra

    A Gandhian and an environmental activist Anupam Mishra has spent decades in the field of environment protection and water conservation and is among the most knowledgeable persons in India on traditional water harvesting systems. He has travelled to various part of the country, especially Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, visiting various water harvesting systems managed by people.

    Dr. Mishra has interacted with grassroots-level water harvesters, inspired and supported them and helped them in their traditional water harvesting systems campaign. Winner of the Indira Gandhi National Environment Award, Mishra has been associated with the Gandhi Peace Foundation since its inception. He has authored two books on traditional water management and water harvesting systems in India, titled Aaj Bhi Khare Hain Talaab (Ponds are Still Relevant) and Rajasthan Ki Rajat Boonde (The Radiant Raindrops of Rajasthan).

    Dr. Mishra continues to travel to different parts of the country, while keeping in touch with grassroot-level water harvesters and NGOs and inspiring them. The mission of the Gandhi Peace Foundation is to promote the environmental activities of rural development agencies; to prepare survey reports on distressed areas and place them before concerned authorities; to disseminate environmental information through the publication of up-to-date reports on environmental issues; to organise workshops and seminars for environmental experts, policy makers, individuals and organizations engaged in environmental issues.

    [Dr. Anupam Mishra continues his association with the Gandhi Peace Foundation working in the field of environment protection and water conservation.]

    Recipients of the TN Khoshoo Memorial Award, 2005

    Ms Nafisa Barot

    Ms. Nafisa Barot has been championing the efforts of local communities to achieve self-reliance in natural resources in the Bhal region of Gujarat. She is the founder trustee of Utthan, an organization dedicated to the upliftment and empowerment of impoverished local communities, especially women. Nafisaben as she is popularly known, has been involved in a number of water management activities in the region such as drought proofing, rain-water harvesting and desilting. Other activities carried out by Utthan in Gujarat include women's credit groups, community health programs, afforestation and education. Ms. Barot represents Utthan on several national and international committees. She is a strong believer in the empowerment of vulnerable sections of the society through socio-economic and cultural development based on the principles of sustainable resource use and conservation.

    [Ms. Nafisa Barot continues her work on social and environmental issues. She also continues as Executive Director of Utthan an organisation she co-founded that works in the areas of gender empowerment, integrated natural resource management, and peace and justice through conflict transformation.]

    Dr. Anil P. Joshi

    Dr. Anil P. Joshi works to promote sustainable livelihoods in the Himalaya. He started his career as a college teacher in Botany and encouraged many of his students to carry out academic research oriented towards solving the basic needs of the hill people. He has been instrumental in developing participatory approaches to natural resource conservation and is credited with developing a variety of ingenious schemes related to water supply, cheap lighting, traditional agriculture, employment generation, earthquake resistant housing and alternative uses of weeds such as lantana. Dr. Joshi and his colleagues formed the Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organization (HESCO), which aims to reconcile basic needs of rural communities with the need to conserve natural resources. Dr. Joshi is the recipient of numerous awards in recognition of his pioneering contributions towards sustainable living in the Himalayan region.

    [Dr. Anil P. Joshi continues his work with the Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organization that he co-founded. He was awarded the 'Padma Shri' in 2006 in recognition of his pioneering contribution towards sustainable living in the Himalayan region.]

    Recipient of the TN Khoshoo Memorial Award, 2004

    Dr. R. Sukumar

    Dr. R Sukumar is a Professor at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India. He is one of the world leaders in the efforts to conserve the elephants especially the Asian elephant.

    Since 1997, he has been the Chair of the Asian Elephant Specialist Group of IUCN-The World Conservation Union. He has published three books and over 70 scientific articles. He is the winner of the Presidential Award of the Chicago Zoological Society in 1989 and was honoured with the Order of the Golden Ark, by the Government of Netherlands in 1997 for his outstanding contribution to Elephant conservation. His approach has been in using the elephant as a flagship for conserving landscapes, their biodiversity, and reconciling human interests with conservation. Most recently he was the recipient of the Whitley Gold Award for International Nature Conservation (2003).

    [Dr. R. Sukumar continues as Professor at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science. At present research in his lab spans the areas of wildlife ecology, tropical forest ecology and climate change. He is a recipient of the International Cosmos Prize in 2006.]

    In 2010, ATREE started the TN Khoshoo Ecology and Environment Award for Schools.The new award called for action on environmental issues, and was announced in Delhi and Bengaluru. The idea was to reward initiative/ action on local environmental issues and so seed environmental consciousness. The award was designed in partnership with The Teacher Foundation, Wipro, IAIM-FRLHT and Pravah, and recognised schools for catalyzing and enabling environmental thought and action among its students.


    In 2011, the TN Khoshoo Ecology and Environment Award for Schools became part of the Wipro earthian awards, and is now called the TN Khoshoo-earthian Trophy. This strategic partnership with Wipro is the result of a shared vision of the role of youth in potentially advancing conservation thought and action in routine decision making. The TN Khoshoo-earthian Trophy recognizes one school and one college from among the short-listed earthian winning submissions, for higher degree of feasibility, practical implement-ability and contextual understanding.

    ATREE is also one of Wipro’s knowledge partners in the fields of environment, development and conservation, for the earthian’s Continuous Engagement Programme (CEP). The CEP is the second part of the 'earthian Sustainability Program for Schools and Colleges'. It will be a process of continuously engaging with the winning institutions on multiple fronts to develop capacities for activities around sustainability. The purpose of this investment in developing next generation capabilities by earthian and its partners is to help develop an interdisciplinary view of the problems of environment and development, and encourage rigour and critical thinking for action.

    Dr Kamal Bawa addressing the audience at the earthian Awards programme in 2012

    ATREE and the earthian Continuous Engagement Programme

    Winners through the years
    TN Khoshoo-earthian trophy 2012
    College category winner: Rajalakshmi Engineering College, Chennai
    Project:Swachh India, on domestic waste management

    School category winners
    This year, two schools share the award:
    KK English High School, Bengaluru(also the winner of the first Khoshoo School Award in 2010)
    Project: Alternative approach to better waste management practices

    Sakar English School, Ahmedabad
    Project: Solid waste management problems and solutions, a case study of Ahmedabad city

    Winner in the school category: Rishi Valley School, Andhra Pradesh
    Project: Water and the Valley

    TN Khoshoo Ecology & Environment Award for Schools 2010- 2011
    First place: Salwan Public School, Rajinder Nagar, Delhi, and K K High School, Varthur, Bengaluru
    Second place: Father Agnel School from Gautam Nagar, Delhi, Sri Vani Education Centre (SVEC), Basaveshwarnagar, Bengaluru

    2010-2011, the first year of the TN Khoshoo Ecology and Environment Award for Schools. The award was launched in Delhi and Bengaluru in early 2010. Coordinating organisations–Pravah, in Delhi, and ATREE, in Bengaluru, started their interactions with schools in July 2010, briefing schools on the long-term objectives of the school awards, and guiding them through the processes for participation.The efforts of the students, schools and the organisers were showcased in interactive Environment Melas in Delhi and Bengaluru on 24th January and 28th February 2011 respectively. The winners of TN Khoshoo Ecology and Environment Awards for Schools 2011 were announced here.

    The criteria for winning were impact, sustainability of the idea, replicability, and creativity.
    For more on the first awards.

    Dr. Triloki Nath Khoshoo (27 April 1927-10 June 2002), founder trustee of ATREE, was a world-renowned environmental scientist and an able administrator. Dr. Khoshoo started his career as co-founder of the Department of Botany at the Punjab University, Lahore, which moved to Khalsa College, Amritsar, soon after the partition of India. After a brief stint as Chairman of the Botany Department at Jammu and Kashmir University, he joined the National Botanical Gardens, Lucknow, in 1964, as Assistant Director. He soon became the Director, and due to his untiring efforts, the institution rose to the stature of being the National Botanical Research Institute in 1978.

    Dr Khoshoo became the first Secretary of the newly created Department of Environment of the Government of India in 1982, with the responsibility of developing an environment policy for the country. In 1985, he joined the Tata Energy Research Institute as a Distinguished Fellow and contributed to public policy discussions at national as well as international forums. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1992 and the Sasakawa Environment Prize by the United Nations Environment Programme in 1996.

    Dr. Khoshoo was a prolific writer. Over the course of five decades, he authored more than 250 research papers on plant genetics and evolution, biomass, energy, forestry, conservation and, the utilization and management of natural resources. He has written seven books and edited eleven more on a wide range of subjects. His book 'Mahatma Gandhi: An Apostle of Applied Human Ecology', published in 1996, was widely applauded for his interpretation of the practical relevance of Gandhian views.