SNAPP TEAM:Landscape Connectivity in India
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What approaches can decision-makers and planners use to ensure that the needs of rural infrastructure and economic development in India is not achieved at the expense of landscape connectivity for wildlife?

Roads, rail, and other infrastructure are fundamental for India’s economic development. However, these linear features sever connectivity between protected areas. Protected areas in India are often too small to support viable populations of wide-ranging species, such as elephants and tigers. Connectivity is crucial for genetic viability of these species.

 

OUR APPROACH: The group has helped decision-makers plan for infrastructure development while maintaining connectivity of the landscape. They created an open access, web-based tool for planners by using scientific evidence like spatial data layers and data analysis to identify major challenges for wildlife connectivity across India.

Team Status: COMPLETED
Team Critical Challenge: Social Innovations
Results

Open Data Portal
The team created a data portal titled “India Under Construction” to provide planners, consultants, lawyers, and other stakeholders with accurate data on protected areas. The portal’s layers show fragmented landscapes and connectivity routes that must be conserved and maintained. Spatial layers provide infrastructure planners with the information they need to develop in a manner that does not infringe on livelihoods of local animal populations.

 

Hybrid Landuse-Landcover Map
The team created a map of Central India identifying 16 protected areas, and then connected the protected areas with 30 paths and accounting for over 562 barriers that could prohibit complete linkages. Barriers include mines, reservoirs, roads, and rail. Maintaining and restoring connectivity between source populations is essential for the long term viability of wide-ranging species. Increasing infrastructure needs could impact the connectivity between protected areas.

Impacts

“Our data portal empowers the decision makers, but it also allows local advocacy groups to use this information and engage with data-driven practices. The impacts could very well span over decades.”  

– Krithi Karanth, Project Leader

Key Products
Danger posed to wildlife by roads

This educational video brings attention to the danger that infrastructure expansion in India poses to wildlife, especially roads. Warning: contains graphic images.

Restoration sites to improve connectivity in a landscape

This paper uses central India’s tiger landscape to ID barriers, associate them with existing infrastructure, and quantify the potential improvement by restoring or mitigating barriers. It also categorizes linkages based on their current status within and between Protected Areas.

India Under Construction

This data portal provides information on infrastructure, protected areas and forest fragmentation across India, and landscape permeability to movement for large mammals in Central India. It provides options to meet the needs for infrastructure development while maintaining landscape connectivity and permeability.

Linear infrastructure severely affects large forest patches in India

Linear infrastructure (e.g., roads, transmission lines) has led to a 71.5% reduction in the number of large forest patches in India. Infrastructure projects should be re-routed to avoid large forest patches, and linear infrastructure can be bundled to minimize fragmentation.

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Team
Leaders
Ruth DeFries
Columbia University
Krithi Karanth
Wildlife Conservation Society
Ullas Karanth
Wildlife Conservation Society
Members
Robert Ament
Western Transportation Institute
Praveen Bhargav
Wildlife First
Naveen Bhat
NU Associates
Pranav Chanchani
World Wildlife Fund
Ashwini Chhatre
Indian School of Business
Trishna Dutta
Independent Researcher
Niren Jain
Kudhremukh Wildlife Foundation
Anisha Jayadevan
Centre for Wildlife Studies
M. K. Jiwrajka
Indian Forest Service
Suman Jumani
Foundation for Ecological Research, Advocacy and Learning
A S Karanth
DEIF India
Jagdish Krishnaswamy
Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment
Ajith Kumar
Wildlife Conservation Society
Vinay Kumar
Wildlife Conservation Society
R. Mohanty
India International Infrastructure Engineers
Tarun Nair
Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment
Rajat Nayak
Foundation for Ecological Research Advocacy and Learning
Kirk Olson
Wildlife Conservation Society
Milind Pariwakam
Wildlife Conservation Trust
Udayan Patil
Srushti Paryavaran Mandal
Mandar Pawgi
Conservationist, Maharashtra
K Ramesh
Wildlife Institute of India
M. Seshagiri Rao
Rail India Technical and Economic Services
Shishir Rao
Centre for Wildlife Studies
D S Ravindran
Forests, Khazane – II) and Ex –Officio Commissioner, Treasuries
Kishore Rithe
SATPUDA Foundation
Nitya Satheesh
Centre for Wildlife Studies
Subhorajan Sen
Pench Tiger Reserve
Shankar Sharma
Power Policy Analyst, Private
Ramki Sreenivasan
Conservation India
Prakriti Srivastava
Forests, Eco Development and Tribal Welfare
Prachi Thatte
National Centre for Biological Sciences
Srinivas Vaidyanathan
Foundation for Ecological Research Advocacy and Learning
Anubhav Vanamamalai
Centre for Wildlife Studies
Ashoka Vardhana
Freelance Writer and Publisher
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