Spatial pattern of disturbances and scale based conservation intervention measures in the tropics

@ATREE auditorium at 3.45 pm on 17th July, 2015

The large dependence by humans on tropical forests to meet livelihood and natural resource needs makes it imperative to quantify and understand the patterns and processes that contribute to forest degradation. Ecological processes operate at various spatial scales and so also the drivers of forest change in human-dominated landscapes. Identifying these drivers and the scales at which they operate is critical for implementing conservation programs in tropical regions. We combined information from semi-structured social surveys from 20 villages, with vegetation data on forest disturbance from 341 circular plots from the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR). Fire wood was the most common natural resource extracted from the forest, 98% of the households extracted fire wood from the forests. Between 28% and 52% of households collected a variety of NTFPs (Non timber forest products) from the forests. Forest disturbance index in the STR ranged between 0.1 and 0.5 (minimum of 0 to maximum of 1), with a mean of 0.25 ± 0.09. At the landscape scale, variation in forest disturbance was significantly explained by the village size. At the scale of the village, variation in forest disturbance was significantly explained by distance travelled to collect fire wood, and % of HH engaged in wage labour. The spatial pattern of burnt pixels in the STR was explained by distance from the village edges, (R2 = 0.59, Adjusted R2=0.53, F2,14 = 10.28, p < 0.001). The proportion of total burnt area increased with increasing spatial scale in the tropical dry thorn (F1,11=18.67; R2=0.62; P<0.001), and in the tropical moist deciduous forests (F1,11=7.05; R2=0.39; P<0.05). Understanding these spatial patterns and drivers of forest change is important for alleviating the impacts of forest degradation in the tropics.

Brief bio
Dr. Narendran Kodandapani is Associate Professor at Centre for Energy, Environment, Urban Governance and Infrastructure Development, Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad. He earned his PhD in Geography from Michigan State University in 2006 and obtained a Masters in Environmental Sciences in 1995 from Bharathidasan University. An environmental scientist by training, he has over a decade of experience in academia and applied conservation. He has written numerous research articles in international and national peer-reviewed journals

His interests includes tropical forest conservation, application of remote sensing and GIS for environmental problems; conservation through sustainable forest policies; spatial data analysis, and tropical fire ecology