Ecosystems and Human Well-being

Human well-being is dependent on the health of terrestrial and marine ecosystems.  Societies depend on the continuous flow of ecosystem services from them.  Industry, agriculture and urban-centred development have subjected ecosystems to unprecedented pressures,posing serious implications for biodiversity conservation and human well-being. Ecosystem alteration, fragmentation and degradation impact community life quality, including livelihoods and cultures.  The economic and cultural costs are disproportionately borne by indigenous and marginalised classes. Designing ecological restoration for ecosystem services rejuvenation needs experts with disciplinary abilities and cross-disciplinary competencies. Our program will explore links between ecological restoration and well-being at landscape scales. Eschewing sectoral and disciplinary tendencies, we will adopt inter and transdisciplinary approaches in multifunctional landscapes in the Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas.


The programme seeks to design interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary -cross sectoral- frameworks for ecological restoration and livelihood improvement in one multifunctional landscape each in the Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas.  In particular, our programme seeks to- 

  • Document land sparing (conservation) and land sharing (production/livelihoods) status quo, including sectoral land use competition and conflicts. 
  • Quantify community, conservation and commerce-related ecosystem services trade-offs, use multi-dimensional data to identify appropriate interventions and qualify their environmental justice implications in terms of differential distributions of benefits and burdens.      
  • Provide an interdisciplinary account of the social (labour), historical (temporal baseline condition), cultural (indigenous identity; aesthetics), political (distributive and procedural justice), and economic (livelihoods, incomes and costs) aspects of ecological restoration.
  • Map and monitor present and future landscape mosaic compositions/ characteristics using emerging technology under extant and expected climate change and land use change scenarios.  
  • Develop a blueprint for cross-sectoral collaborations with stakeholders including practitioners and policy custodians of varied land use domains, to implement restoration and conservation recommendations.  


Focus Areas and Landscapes

The thematic focus areas of the programme are:

  • Landscape mosaic and multifunctionality
  • Ecological restoration and human wellbeing 
  • Land use and land change/ land sparing and sharing
  • Cross sectoral collaboration 

We will focus on landscape mosaics or multifunctional landscapes in the Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas in the next five years.   These include at least one in each of the following sub-regions

  1. Western Ghats- Ooty, The Nilgiris; Kodaikanal, Palani hills; Thamirabharani river, Kalakad Mundanthurai, Tirunelveli.
  2. Eastern Himalayas- North Bengal hills and foothills, West Bengal; Sikkim; and Siang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh. 


  • Empowering local communities in aligning their conservation and developmental values and aspirations, and to foster inclusivity and equity in ecological restoration decision making.
  • Develop landscape level or oriented restoration models based on inter and trans disciplinary (cross sectoral) collaborations 
  • Demonstrated successful integration of ecological, social, economic and political aspects into ecosystem restoration science, practice and policy.


Acacia mearnsii_illust

Video and Resources

Conservation Landscapes and Human Well-Being

Sustainable Development in the Eastern Himalayas

ISBN 9780367538842

Published September 25, 2023 by Routledge India