The Western Ghats Conservation Programme India
“An intricate relationship exists between the Western Ghats of India and its people. Indigenous tribes and agriculturalists have subsisted off these rich and fertile lands for centuries. But with the gap between urban and rural incomes growing fast, and the pressures on natural resources mounting, the Ghats’ capacity to sustain the livelihoods of rural communities is diminishing rapidly.
To arrest this trend, Applied Environmental Research Foundation (AERF) in Maharashtra and Junglescapes in Karnataka are working to transform rural economies based on destructive practices to those that are sustainable and scientifically sound. Working hand in hand with local communities, they are bridging the gap between economies and conservation.
In southern Karnataka, Junglescapes has piloted a green economy model to incentivize removal of Lantana camara, an alien invasive plant. In the northern Western Ghats of Maharashtra, AERF has developed green economies based on sustainable harvesting of non-timber forest products.
By introducing new and original ideas into the Western Ghats’ rural economic systems, AERF and Junglescapes have demonstrated successful green economy models. By linking producers to markets for environmentally sustainable products, these groups have shown that with the right approach, conservation of nature can deliver more economic benefits than unsustainable exploitation. Such examples point the way to the wider emergence of green economies in the Western Ghats.”