South Asia's globally unique forests are changing rapidly and changes in forest cover correlate with radical alterations in people’s interactions with them. Such interactions include changes in land use and land cover, population growth and demographic change, technological developments, growing economic integration of rural and urbanizing areas, spread of invasive species and changes in local and regional climate regimes. To address some of these issues, the USAID-funded Forests for Biodiversity and Wellbeing project is being implemented at three sites in Western Ghats – the Biligiri Ranga Temple Tiger Reserve, Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and Malai Mahadeswara Wildlife Sanctuary. The main issues this project addresses are increasing the income of forest-dependent communities through improved management of agriculture and NTFP species, introducing innovations in strengthening systems of forest resources management and monitoring the resources with the community participation.

The project not only focuses on introducing new agricultural products and techniques so as to help villagers add value to NTFPs, but also helps them understand and mitigate to reduces over harvest.

Secondly, in a bid to reduce fuel wood consumption, the project has scaled up the sale, marketing and distribution of Improved Cook Stoves (ICS), in the Darjeeling Hills, via private-sector collaborations in Eastern Himalaya.

Thirdly, the project also helps strengthen systems of forest resource management, at the local level, through research on the population genetics and management of important NTFPs. This entails working with local and district-level governmental planning agencies to improve environmental governance, assessing current and likely future impacts of tourism on forests and resources and leading a new regional stakeholder forum for climate awareness across the Eastern Himalayas.