The Western Ghats of India is part of the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka global biodiversity hotspot that is extraordinarily rich in plant and animal species. It also has a diversity of natural, semi-natural and agro-ecosystems. Although the total area is less than 6 percent of the land area of India, the Western Ghats contains more than 30 percent of all plant, fish, herpetofauna, bird, and mammal species found in India. The Western Ghats has a high proportion of endemic species and a spectacular assemblage of large vertebrates, including large mammals. The Western Ghats contains numerous medicinal plants and important genetic resources such as the wild relatives of grains (rice, barley, Eleucine coracana), fruits (mango, garcinias, banana, jackfruit), and spices (black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg). It directly and indirectly supports the livelihoods of over 200 million people through ecosystem services. In addition to rich biodiversity, the Western Ghats is home to diverse social, religious, and linguistic groups.
Government and some civil society-led conservation initiatives have in the past secured many critical habitats and species. Several nationally significant wildlife sanctuaries, tiger reserves, and national parks have been established. Despite these conservation successes, severe persistent and emerging threats to connectivity, habitats and species pose a major challenge. It is increasingly evident that extensive and intensive engagement of civil society and stake-holders in conservation partnerships that link government, communities and other sectors of civil society are necessary to consolidate and expand the conservation "estate" beyond existing protected areas. Conservation challenges lie in engaging both social and economic groups and involving them in community and government efforts aimed at biodiversity conservation and consolidation of fragmented habitats in the hotspot.
The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is a global programme that provides grants to non-governmental organizations to protect biodiversity hotspots with the participation and involvement of civil society. It provides strategic assistance to non-governmental organizations, community groups and other civil society partners to help safeguard biodiversity hotspots. This conservation investment is guided by a region-specific investment strategy developed with inputs and in consultation with diverse stakeholders. An Ecosystem Profile for the Western Ghats was developed by conservation and scientific institutions with inputs from civil society to guide the strategic and catalytic conservation investment in the Western Ghats.
The council of donors that governs CEPF approved a $ 4.5-million, 5-year investment strategy for the Western Ghats in April 2007, based on the Ecosystem Profile. Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) was selected as the Regional Implementation Team (RIT) to implement the conservation strategy outlined in the Western Ghats Ecosystem profile in partnership with CEPF. The RIT will lead implementation of the CEPF investment strategy amounting to USD 4.1 million for achieving the conservation goals. The RIT will work in collaboration with partners in the civil society to achieve the shared conservation goals identified in the Ecosystem Profile. It will assist civil society groups in designing, implementing, and replicating successful conservation activities; review all grant applications; and directly award small grants. A full description of the strategic directions and related investment priorities can be found at the CEPF website
Open ! Applications for the 4th round of CEPF-ATREE Grants is open (deadline is 15th December 2012) http://www.atree.org/wgcall
Dr. Bhaskar Acharya,
Project Coordinator, CEPF-Western Ghats RIT
Email: cepfwghats (at) atree (dot) org, VCard:
Landline (9:30 am to 5:30 pm): +91-80-23635555 (Ext 323)
Mobile: +91 9008322664