added 2 research items
Background Maintaining and restoring connectivity between source populations is essential for the long term viability of wide-ranging species, many of which occur in landscapes that are under pressure to meet increasing infrastructure needs. Identifying barriers in corridors can help inform conservation and infrastructure development agencies so that development objectives can be achieved without compromising conservation goals. Here, we use the tiger landscape in central India as a case study to identify barriers, associate them with existing infrastructure, and quantify the potential improvement by restoring or mitigating barriers. Additionally, we propose an approach to categorize linkages based on their current status within and between Protected Areas (PAs). Methods We generated a hybrid landuse-landcover map of our study area by merging datasets. We used least-cost methods and circuit theory to map corridors and generate linkage metrics. We mapped barriers and used the improvement score (IS) metric to quantify potential improvement by restoring or mitigating them. Based on criteria that represent the status of corridors between-PAs and populations within-PAs, we ranked linkages into one of four categories: Cat1—linkages that currently have high quality and potential for tiger connectivity and should be maintained, Cat2W—linkages where focus on habitat and tiger populations may improve connectivity, Cat2B—linkages where focus on reducing barriers between PAs may improve connectivity, and Cat3—linkages where effort is needed to both reduce barriers between PAs and improve tiger populations and habitat within PAs. We associated barriers with infrastructure and present maps to show where restoration or mitigation measures can be targeted to have the highest potential impact. Results We mapped 567 barriers within 30 linkages in this landscape, of which 265 barriers intersect with infrastructure (694 km of roads, 150 km of railway, 48 reservoirs, 10 mines) and 302 barriers are due to land-use or gaps in forest cover. Eighty-six barriers have both roads and railways. We identified 7 Cat1, 4 Cat2w, 9 Cat2b, and 10 Cat3 linkages. Eighty surface mines and thermal power plants are within 10 km of the least-cost paths, and more coal mines are closer to connectivity areas where linkages are narrow and rank poorly on both axes. Discussion We present spatial and quantitative results that can help conservation practitioners target mitigation and restoration efforts. India is on the path to rapid economic growth, with infrastructure development planned in biodiversity-rich areas. The mitigation hierarchy of avoiding, minimizing, and offsetting impacts due to proposed development projects can be applied to corridors in this landscape. Cross-sectoral cooperation at early stages of project life-cycles to site, design, and implement solutions can maintain connectivity while meeting infrastructure needs in this rapidly changing landscape.
The field of biodiversity conservation increasingly recognizes the need for empirical evaluations of conser-vation interventions. While the amount of money invested into conservation and the number of protected areas across the globe have been increasing in the past few decades, few well-designed empirical stud-ies try to show what could have happened in the absence of the conservation efforts. In this paper, we propose an empirical method to evaluate such conservation intervention. We integrate a cellular automata-Markov modeling approach and a counterfactual approach showing what may have happened in the absence of a certain conservation intervention. We test this method in a human-dominated tropical landscape in Central India; however, our method is transferable to any other socio-ecological setting. The study area is located in the tropical forests of Central India and has witnessed several management strate-gies since its declaration as a protected area in the mid-1970s. However, landscape practitioners have identified the revised forest policy of 1988 to play a vital role in this landscape. We chose this particular forest policy as the conservation intervention in our study and tested our method using this landscape as a template. We used remote sensing and GIS techniques to analyze multi-sensor satellite data from the last 30 years to monitor forest transitions and compare them with the counterfactual scenario. Our findings not only shed light on the importance of national-level policies in governing forest dynamics, but also established our proposed method as an effective tool for empirical evaluation of conservation intervention, particularly in developing countries. Published by Elsevier B.V.
The latest tiger census conducted in India during the year 2014 shows that it harbours 57% of the global tiger population in 7% of their historic global range. At the same time, India has 1.25 billion people growing at a rate of 1.7% per year. Protected tiger habitats in India are geographically isolated and collectively holds this tiger population under tremendous anthropogenic pressure. These protected lands are in itself not enough to sustain the growing tiger population, intensifying human-tiger conflict as dispersing individuals enter human occupied areas. These factors – isolation and inadequate size of the protected lands harbouring tiger meta-populations, highlight the need to connect tiger habitats and the importance of corridors beyond protected lands. It is imperative to conserve such corridors passing through private lands to safeguard the long-term survival of the tigers in India. The goal of long-term tiger conservation in India lies in smartly integrating tiger conservation concerns in various sectors where tiger conservation is not the priority. To effectively tap into all these resources, we propose a “Triage of Means” strategy. Here we do not prioritize species, populations or sites due to the non-availability of conservation resources. Instead, we aim to prioritize from available resources (means to achieve conservation) from other sectors where tiger conservation is not the focus. We outline how to prioritise resources available from various sectors into conservation by prioritizing issues hampering tiger conservation beyond protected habitats.