Sustainability of conservation agreements in IBAs from north Western Ghats, India
Continued degradation of habitat in an around protected areas is a fundamental cause behind biodiversity loss in the north Western Ghats (NWG) of India. Absence of forest based sustainable livelihood options, lack of skills and range of economic opportunities are important drivers of unsustainable forest management. Private ownership of land in buffer areas also aggravates the problem.
In our previous project we used a community conservation agreement (CCA) approach for avoiding destructive harvesting and promoting sustainable biodiversity use in the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary. Developing and building on this is promising for conservation in the project landscape. Therefore our objective is to use diverse and innovative approaches for scaling up and sustaining the CCA strategy in two Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) from NWG.
Methods include mapping of private forests for prioritization, surveys of endemic bird species using scientific research protocols, feasibility for promoting eco-labelling schemes and payments for ecosystem services (PES), baseline studies to select economically important non-timber forest products for sustainable use, and community livelihood and skills assessment.
Key outcomes include successful development of the CCA in two IBAs from NWG, developing one functional biodiversity based enterprise and creating an institutional framework for sustainability of the CCA approach. Well-designed incentives, biodiversity enterprise and a working PES model will achieve sustainable use and conservation.