Issue 3
June 2016


Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) was ranked 76 in the International Centre for Climate Governance's 2015 edition of Climate Think Tank Ranking. Dr Kamaljit S Bawa, the President of ATREE, received the Jose Cuatrecasas Medal for Excellence in Tropical Botany from the Natural History Museum, Smithsonian Institution. Dr Bejoy K Thomas, a Fellow who works with the Water, Land and Society programme at ATREE, was recently elected as an Executive Committee Member of the Indian Society for Ecological Economics (INSEE).


Biodiversity damage: Once dense forests in Kumaon now resemble cremation grounds.

Rajkamal Goswami, a PhD Scholar at ATREE, wrote an article in about the damages caused by forest fires in Uttarakhand this summer.

“The branches and trunks of living oak trees are densely covered with mosses and lichens, which are critical nest-building material and foraging substratum for many bird species. These are often lost during fires even when the oak, a fire-hardy species, survives. Depending on rainfall, it may take several months to over a year for this secondary vegetation to regrow. Therefore, an intense fire in an oak forest leads to loss of species not only due to death, but also through displacement and impairment of breeding.” Read More>>

Changes in pollution board undermine accountability

Dr Sharachchandra Lele, a Senior Fellow and leader of the Climate Change Mitigation and Development programme at ATREE, along with Nakul Mohan Heble, a research associate, wrote an article in the Deccan Herald about the recently promulgated change in the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board’s senior management.

“After having appointed a new chairman a few months ago, the government has now amended the rules to give most day-to-day powers to the member-secretary. The government’s move appears to be due to its discomfiture in centralisation of authority with the chairman who is not a bureaucrat. But it could be counter-productive if not balanced by other much-needed changes.” Read More>>

ATREE in the News

Seena N Karimbumkara, a Senior Research Associate at ATREE, and Rajkamal Goswami, a PhD student, spotted the False Tibitian Cupid (Tongeia pseudozuthus) in the Lower Dibang Valley of Arunachal Pradesh. This was the first time the species was spotted in the region, and subsequently reported in the journal Threatened Taxa. The species was first photographed during the survey, thus establishing its presence in India. Read More>>.
The New York Times quoted Dr Kamaljit S Bawa, the president of ATREE, in an article about climate change in the Himalayas. Dr Bawa expressed his concern over the threats to the region's unique biodiversity due to global warming and emphasised the need to make a “rapid progress” on studies that estimate its impacts. The article talks about the decline in supply of the caterpillar fungus (locally called Yarsagumba), which is found at altitudes above 10,000 feet. Read More>>
TG Jojo, a Project Coordinator at ATREE, spoke to The Hindu about how changes in the ecosystem of Kerala’s coastal waters have resulted in the decline of a number of fish species, including Sardines, which once sustained the livelihoods of hundreds of fishermen. Sardines constituted a major catch for traditional fishermen who ventured into the sea during the trawl ban in Kerala, which comes into force for a 47-day period during monsoons. Read More>>
ET Tech covered ATREE’s partnership with Biome Environmental Solutions and Yuktix Technologies, both Bengaluru-based companies. ATREE installed pollution sensors in five of Bangaluru’s water bodies to create an open data dashboard so as to involve citizens in the process of monitoring them. The project also entails collecting data and monitoring these sensors over a three-year period, and collating it into a citizen friendly open-data format. Read More>>
Dr Priyadarsanan Dharmarajan, a Senior Fellow who works with the Biodiversity Assessment and Conservation Planning programme at ATREE, weighed in on the Draft Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules promulgated by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEFCC). He called the draft rules ineffective as it absolves the central government of all responsibilities in the conservation of wetlands and added that it can jeopardise these areas if implemented. Read More>>
Dr Jagdish Krishnaswamy, a Senior Fellow and leader of the Ecosystem Services and Human Wellbeing programme at ATREE, along with researchers at the Wildlife conservation society and an IFS officer, released a collaborative book which details how human disturbances precipitated by different forest management regimes affect the biodiversity of ecologically similar areas. The book also proposes alternative management systems to conserve biodiversity. Read More>>
An article that compiles rainfall models and attempts to predict whether rains alone can recharge groundwater, quoted Dr Veena Srinivasan, an ATREE fellow and leader of its Water, Land and Society programme, who shed light on how pipe leakages, in areas with piped water supply, leads to a significant amount of groundwater recharge. In Bangalore, the water table is high in areas with piped water supply when compared to areas that depend on groundwater. Read More>>