NURTURING HUMAN–NATURE RELATIONSHIPS

Conservation is impossible without the support of people, which in India is buoyed by a deep-seated relationship that people have shared with nature across generations.

 

Yet these relationships are eroding as we speak; both due to increased competition for space and resources between wildlife and people, and with a more fundamental cultural and emotional drift away from nature. 

If you would like to hear more about our work, leave us a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible. 

 
 

CONSERVING THREATENED SPECIES AND ECOSYSTEMS

India, a country of diverse ecosystems and breathtaking landscapes, is one of the few remaining strongholds for tigers, Asian elephants and many other species. Yet we continue to lose our natural habitats, and the wildlife they support. 

We collaborate with multiple stakeholders, including state forest departments and local communities, to conserve threatened wildlife ranging in size from birds to elephants, as well as their habitats, be it the iconic Kaziranga landscape or the lesser known forests of Northeast India. Our strategies are informed by science and our efforts currently span the focal states of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.

 

Towards conservation, flavours of work we engage with include: facilitating wildlife movement through the science and practice of connectivity conservation; advanced monitoring of wildlife populations and demography; holistic management of human–wildlife conflict based on robust spatiotemporal predictions, understanding of animal behaviour and dedicated stakeholder engagement; scientific prioritisation of conservation efforts and locations; developing of plans for forest management and landscape-scale conservation; supporting and encouraging on-ground community-based conservation efforts.

If you would like to hear more about our work, leave us a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible.  

 

Human–wildlife interactions

With loss and fragmentation of forests, interactions between people and wildlife increase. In some cases, these interactions turn hostile. We highlight three important lessons to mitigating human–wildlife conflict:

(a) Frequently-used conflict mitigation strategies often fail to sufficiently recognise the ecological needs of wildlife; those that block animal movement pathways, for example, will only aggravate the problem. (b) Traditional human–nature relationships in India provide a unique opportunity to foster positive interactions with wildlife, even in high-conflict zones. (c) Long-term scientific strategies that emanate from a holistic understanding of human–wildlife relationships, are key to effectively managing potential conflict. Our work on fostering the co-existence of people and elephants in the Kaziranga–Karbi Anglong landscape of Assam, is based on these lessons. 

Enhancing conservation support

Over the years, sustained engagement has seen people become more invested in conservation efforts, whether these involve villages immediately next to forests, or the cities. We strongly believe in nurturing local capacity and passion for conservation with our teams comprising individuals who are from all of the landscapes we work in.

In the hill-tracts of Northeast India, community-based initiatives are critical for conservation success. Here, we focus on village-level  conservation awareness programs; training and engaging local conservation enthusiasts; providing technical support necessary for informed conservation; and interacting with decision-makers to best identify ways of effecting community-based conservation activities while simultaneously securing local livelihoods. 

SUPPORTING NATURE-FRIENDLY RURAL LIVELIHOODS​ 

In the hill-tracts of Northeast India, local communities hold a large majority of forested land. In Nagaland, for instance, around 80% of the state is forested, with only 2% comprising government-managed forests. The remaining forests are community-owned and -managed. At the same time, it is conservatively estimated that 100–300 million people in India depend on forests for their livelihoods. We work at this interface in villages of Nagaland and Meghalaya, supporting grassroots movements to conserve biodiversity while securing nature-friendly rural livelihoods, and reaching some of the most remote villages in our country. 

The grassroots movement in these villages stems from a recognition of irreversible forest loss, and a simultaneous depletion of clean water and air, natural resources such as fuelwood and medicinal plans, and nature-based traditions. Our engagement with local communities can involve knowledge generation and providing of technical support for conservation; enhancing awareness and participation in conservation; and developing nature-friendly alternative livelihoods, particularly in villages that have little access to markets and hence, few livelihood options. 

If you would like to hear more about our work, leave us a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible. 

 
 

FOSTER​ING SCIENTIFIC EXCELLENCE

Globally, the contribution of science to effective conservation is only increasing. This can take the form of increased knowledge about ecosystems, the ecology of endangered species, or socio-economic contexts within which conservation is encompassed. Scientists at Conservation Initiatives are keen that India be at the forefront of this development and contribute to the ever-increasing body of conservation knowledge through scientific articles in well-renowned international journals. We are also keen to bring these findings to a larger audience through newspaper articles or blogs.  

There is an increasing number of youth aspiring to dedicate their energies and creativity to conservation. But there is much to be done in terms of providing opportunities for training and honing of skills, and support for holistic professional growth, particularly in Northeast India. Such a contribution to the future will only snowball conservation impact.  

If you would like to hear more about our work, leave us a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible.  

 © Conservation Initiatives 2020. All rights reserved.

Contact us

1, Mukunda Path

Suruj Nagar, G.S. Road Six Mile

Guwahati 781022, Assam, India

Email: conserv.initiatives@gmail.com

Content and Design: Divya Vasudev, Varun R. Goswami
Photo credits: Varun R. Goswami, Bhavendu Joshi, Pragyan Sharma, Divya Vasudev, Zorba Z. Laloo
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