S Vijay Kumar
Alumnus, Western Ghats
I have a Masters degree in Forestry from the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore. After my Masters, I worked with the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, on the effects of forest fragmentation on plant communities, plant functional traits and ecosystem services in the rainforests of Kodagu and central Western Ghats. I joined NCF in June 2014 to work on the rainforest restoration programme in the Anamalai hills, Tamil Nadu. Here, I work in the rainforest plant nursery, fragments, and restoration sites, to coordinate and monitor the restoration efforts and related research and conservation activities in the Valparai landscape. I have also been a sports person since my school days, and have participated in several inter-University kho-kho competitions at the South Zone and all India levels. I enjoy participating in running events, especially marathons. I am also a deeply interested amateur photographer, with a passion for photographing plants and animals in their natural settings.
- Journal Article2014Spatio-temporal variation in forest cover and biomass across sacred groves in a human-modified landscape of India's Western GhatsBiological Conservation 178: 193-199.
Although the potential for community-conserved areas (CCAs) to extend conservation beyond formal protected areas is widely acknowledged, the scarcity of conservation assessments and monitoring hinders the rigorous evaluation of their effectiveness in many regions. In India, which hosts a high density and diversity of CCAs, the need for more assessments of the ecological and socio- economic properties of these systems to guide conservation planning and policy has been emphasized in recent years. We inventoried the extant sacred grove network against official records of 407 groves across 70 villages in the Kodagu District of India's Western Ghats, and interviewed local communities about their management and conservation. We also evaluated recent trends in aboveground biomass of sacred groves using time-series satellite data from six time-points during the 2000-2010 period, and made comparisons to corresponding trends in nearby State-managed protected forests. Although most of the larger (> 2ha) groves officially listed were forested at present, over two-thirds of the smaller groves listed were either not forested or could not be located. Local communities attributed these declines to encroachment and illicit logging. Time-series satellite data revealed aboveground biomass declines of ~0.5% annually across the sacred grove network over the 2000-2010 period. In contrast, biomass increased during this period at the interiors and edges of State-managed forests in the landscape. Our results highlight that the conservation status of even well-protected CCAs can vary considerably over time, especially given the dynamism in socio-economic, cultural and ecological factors that govern their status. We argue that understanding and addressing this dynamism is crucial to the conservation of CCAs.