Assam

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