The Bhimashankar Strategy: Toward region-wide community conservation in the Western Ghats, India

Sameer Punde

Conservation often requires resource-users to give up destructive or excessive use of biodiversity. This is a challenging task in biodiversity rich areas inhabited by poverty-ridden communities heavily dependent on the area’s resources for survival and livelihood. This is the case in the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary (BWS) – an Important Bird Area located in the northern spur of the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot. In 2007, a team of conservationists initiated a community-based project in the BWS. Aiming to strengthen the project and to make a larger conservation impact, in 2009 the team will test Conservation Agreements in two villages where communities will take up conservation actions in exchange for development benefits for the entire village. This innovative strategy will be guided by CLP partners and will potentially become a region-wide programme in the near future.

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