Agasthyamalai Sustainability Project for Integrated Restoration of Ecosystems (ASPIRE)



The districts in southern Tamil Nadu are unique by having all five landscapes described in ancient Sangam literature as the “Ainthinai”: mullai (forest), kurinji (mountains), marutham (farmland), paalai (arid land), and neithal (seashore). ASPIRE is an inclusive restoration effort involving stakeholders across diverse ecosystems in the Agasthyamalai landscape across the Tamiraparani basin, covering the Aithinai landscapes.  In this first-of-a-kind initiative, our team will traverse across the landscape from the high-elevation evergreen forests in the Western Ghats to the semi-arid grasslands in the plains. Numerous wetlands, riparian zones along the Tamiraparani River, and smaller green spaces like temple gardens are an integral part of the holistic approach that we aspire to establish. ASPIRE will evaluate and promote biodiversity-positive agriculture as well as build capacity for regenerative agricultural practices. In addition, we will chronicle the existing climate-smart practice towards soil health and biodiversity while supporting local livelihoods. Our work across diverse landscapes will be tied together by a novel climate literacy program that will engage students, communities, and stakeholders to enable them to understand the urgent need to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

ASPIRE builds on nearly four decades of work in the landscape led by ATREE’s Agasthyamalai Community Conservation Centre. As part of our ongoing effort, we are hiring enthusiastic and dedicated researchers for the following aspects:




Forest Restoration : The primary goal of this project is to develop and implement effective strategies to restore critical ecosystems, enhancing their ecological integrity and resilience. Key objectives include conducting comprehensive field assessments of forest degradation in selected sites within the Western Ghats and developing a rigorous restoration framework tailored to the specific conditions and challenges of the region.






Biodiversity Positive Agriculture

The project aims to develop and implement agricultural methods for enhancing crop yields and biodiversity enrichment. The research will involve comprehensive field studies to assess current agricultural practices and their impacts on biodiversity. The candidate will work closely with local farmers to test and refine techniques that incorporate native species, improve soil health, and reduce the need for chemical inputs.




Restoration of  Wetland-Grassland Ecosystems

Grasslands and scattered wetlands in Tirunelveli, Tenkasi, and Thoothukudi districts are crucial for biodiversity and support diverse communities. However, traditional knowledge and practices in grassland and wetland management have been overlooked, affecting both ecosystems and community livelihoods. Building on ATREE’s successful track record in developing wetland management plans and working with pastoral communities in grassland, this project aims to reintegrate traditional wisdom and modern science into restoration strategies. By involving local communities and other stakeholders we aim to enhance sustainable practices and biodiversity conservation.



Climate literacy

This project seeks to enhance climate literacy among communities and other stakeholders to cope with the mounting challenges posed by climate extremes. Farmers and pastoralists in the landscape have historically developed adaptive mechanisms to mitigate the impacts of climate variability and change. The local insights will be integrated with scientific knowledge to empower communities. Recognizing the critical role of education in shaping attitudes and behaviors towards environmental stewardship, the project aims to engage the younger generation in understanding and mitigating climate change impacts.