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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 strategies.

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.

 


 

 

 

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