Issue 18                                                                                                                                                              October 2017
T N Khoshoo Memorial Award 2017
T N Khoshoo Memorial Award recognises the incredible work done by academicians, practitioners and organisations in the fields of environment, conservation and sustainable development. This year's Award ceremony is on 28th November 2017. We are gearing up for the event, where we will host the Ramon Magasasay Awardee and the founder of the organisation- Goonj, Mr Anshu Gupta, as our guest speaker. For more details, visit our website

ACCC celebrates World Wildlife Day

In partnership with Field Learning Centre of Kalakkad Mundunthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR), ATREE's Agasthyamalai Community Conservation Centre (ACCC) organised a workshop on 'Confluence of Arts and Ecology for Conservation' which was participated by fine arts students from Mahabalipuram, Chennai and Kumbakonam. The workshop included talks by Dr R Ganesan and Dr Soubadra Devy, a field-trip to KMTR, and presentations of their art-work. ACCC and Field Learning Centre also organised a three-day course titled ‘On a Biodiversity Trail: Discover, Observe and Realise’ for the students from Evan Metric Higher Secondary school in Tirunelveli. The course involved lectures on biodiversity, the importance of butterflies and snakes in ecosystems, and introduction to forest canopies. The BELL PINS_ATREE Conservation Leadership Award (BACLA) was awarded to Mr M Segajyothi. Mr Segajyothi is the founder of the organisation Pasumai Iyakkam which works towards conservation of biodiversity, community awareness, and planting and maintaining thousands of saplings. The award ceremony was held on 4th October 2017.

Bio-blitz to celebrate World Wildlife Day

ATREE, in collaboration with Manas Maozigendri Ecotourism Society, organised a bioblitz at their jungle camp in Baksa Assam on 8th October 2017. Twenty-five participants documented various flora, and fauna found near the camp. The event was as part of the Assam Biodiversity Portal Project’s capacity building initiative.

Workshop on Assam Biodiversity Portal

ATREE conducted a district-level workshop on documentation of flora and fauna using the Assam Biodiversity Portal (ABP). The workshop was conducted for two districts: Nagaon and Morigaon in Assam. The workshop was participated by students, teachers, government officials and practitioners. Participants were introduced to the philosophy and objectives of ABP, the importance of biodiversity documentation and monitoring, and the role of technology for such documentation. The workshop was accompanied by a bio-blitz in Baduli Khurung - Kandoli Hills Forests where the participants documented flora and fauna of the region and used the ABP for recording their data.

ATREE hosts forest service probationers

ATREE hosted the 2016-18 batch of Indian Forest Service Probationers from the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy. The ten participating IFS probationers were given an orientation to ATREE’s work in various landscapes of India at the ATREE headquarters in Bangalore, followed by a three-day field visit to Agasthyamalai Community Conservation Centre, in the Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR). The event was designed for the forest officials to get acquainted with ATREE's interdisciplinary research and outreach work on community conservation at the KMTR and the surrounding grassland and wetlands.
Rural electrification

The Government’s Saubhagya scheme aims to provide free electricity connections to over 40 million families in India. ATREE's researcher, Shikha Lakhanpal draws attention to the underlying structural problems with the scheme, which has overlooked the subsidy for electricity consumption and instead relies on the installation of pre-paid meters to increase the demand for electricity.

Communities and conservation

ATREE's research scholar, Annesha Chowdhury writes about the silenced voices of traditional hunters, who are often seen as antagonists in the conservation narrative. Wildlife biologists and ecologists have often used the field knowledge of these hunters for their research. With the silenced perspectives of the hunters, Annesha argues that we may have lost a wealth of information that could have helped in designing better and efficient monitoring and evaluation methods.

Science to address water crisis
There is an evident gap between the research conducted and its usefulness to address the water crisis in India. ATREE's researcher Veena Srinivasan brings attention to the disconnection between research questions pursued and the real-world conditions in which they are being applied.
In the News

Hydro-logical systems, ecology and human well-being

Untreated effluents from industries are polluting the water sources for the members of Toda community near Ooty. ATREE's research, led by Siddhartha Krishnan and Priyanka Jamwal Ghosh shows a high concentration of pollutants in Pykara Lake which is detrimental to the human well-being and local ecosystem.
Barriers, such as dams dramatically decrease the fish diversity and dissolved oxygen, making it unsuitable for other life forms. This article explores ATREE's recent study on the impact of small and large-scale hydrological barriers on the fish diversity in the Upper Basin of Malaprabha River in the Western Ghats. ATREE’s research scholar and the lead researcher of the project- Vidyadhar Atkore, elaborates how regulations can impact the ecology of fishes and threaten their population.
Massive extraction of groundwater has reduced base flows into these rivers. The article cites a study conducted by ATREE in the Doddaballapura milli-watershed which calculated groundwater usage and the amount of rainfall the area receives. The study identifies that average rainfall in the area is lesser than the amount of water consumed. For rivers and lakes to be rejuvenated by the rains, shallow aquifers need to be allowed to refill, and groundwater levels need to be stable enough to ensure a steady base flow, which can feed rivers throughout the year.

The draft policy presented by the campaign, Rally for Rivers, though well-intentioned, is not based on the most nuanced science. It continues to push for planting more trees along rivers to revive the degraded and depleted rivers. ATREE's senior researcher and eco-hydrologist, Jagdish Krishnaswamy, says that such claims are only partially valid as research shows that increase in tree cover can decrease the stream flow.

Identifying adulteration in traditional medicines

Spurious plant extracts and toxic chemicals have found their way into traditional medicines, which threaten the lives of the consumers. Often, collectors cannot differentiate between the medicinal and non-medicinal plant species. ATREE's research team, led by Ravikanth Gudlasamani have developed DNA barcodes to identify commonly used medicinal species and distinguish them from the adulterants.

Extreme rainfall events

Thunderstorms are on the rise, and our cities are not prepared to tackle such extreme weather events. ATREE's senior researcher, Jagdish Krishnaswamy says that rain events greater than 100 mm have increased in number in the past 100 years. While there has been an increasing trend in rain events since the 1900s, the variability increased dramatically in the recent decades.

Research and public support

Azim Premji University’s CEO, Anurag Behar, highlights the importance of public support for research organisations such as ATREE, Nature Conservation Foundation, National Centre for Biological Sciences and International Centre for Theoretical Sciences. To progress as a society, research organisations should be publicly felicitated and provided with much needed financial support to continue producing good research.  

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