| Effects of Forest Resource Extraction on Biodiversity Conservation Values
Sariska Tiger Reserve lies in the Aravalli
Hills of the western state of Rajasthan. With the extinction
of Caspian tiger, Sariska is now the westernmost limit
of the tiger’s global range. The Reserve has one
of the few remnants of the diverse flora and fauna of
the Aravalli Hills. Unfortunately, like most other sites
in the area, Sariska is facing heavy pressure due to
the extraction of forest produce.
Eleven villages exist inside the core
zone of the Tiger Reserve and there are another fifteen
in the buffer zone. Most of the people in these villages
depend almost completely on the resources of the forest
for grazing and fuel wood collection as well as for
many food and medicinal plants.
In view of these growing pressures,
it was decided to determine if plant extraction was
having an ecological impact on the region. WPSI, in
collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society
- India Programme, supported a study in April 2003 to
evaluate the ecological impact of forest produce extraction
and provide information that would guide future management
The study compared the bird populations
and plant communities between areas facing high and
relatively low extraction pressure. This is because
birds are highly sensitive to change in the vegetation
structure of an area. A change in the structure and
composition of bird communities indicates a corresponding
change in the flora of the region.
The study has also compiled literature
on Sariska’s ecology and created social and biological
maps of the area. The information on the bird population
of the region will form a starting point for other long-term
conservation projects such as large-scale biodiversity
inventories, bird watching eco-tourism ventures, bird
monitoring programmes and other management interventions
to be planned by the administration.
The project has been carried out by
Dr. Ghazala Shahbuddin, Associate Fellow, Council for
Social Development, New Delhi.