Global Forest Watch – Small Grants Program

Ecological Survey undertaken in Panshet Catchment and Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary

The Ecological Society recently completed (February 2015) a survey at two specific locations in Northern Western Ghats over the last six months. Titled ‘Ecological survey in Panshet Catchment & Bhimashankar wild life sanctuary’, the report describes in detail the objectives of the study, methodology used, the findings and a comparative analysis with data from 1986.

This study under the Small Grants programme was initiated to evaluate the current ecological status of the catchment, record changes in the land use and make recommendations to conserve and restore potential forest patches. The study was undertaken from August 2014 to January 2015.

Some findings of significance are noted below

  • The study region supports both endemic and special biodiversity but this is confined to few tiny patches. During last 30 years, no special conservation effort has been taken to protect the landscape. Meager passive protection by local communities by way of social fencing prevalent in the sacred groves area has helped. The findings in this study suggest a compelling and urgent need to protect and conserve these remaining
  • Fire and grazing are two major constraints in natural succession which have left the catchment with various degrees of vegetation and canopy layers supporting associated biodiversity.
  • One of the major potential threats is modern ‘development’ which is imposed by demands of farm houses and townships by urban consumers. This threat was absent in the survey of
  • Improved road connectivity in the catchment has changed economic activities, lifestyle and social structures within local communities. Livelihood practices of the past are being rendered inefficient by access to modern technology. Proliferation of television has brought about aspirations which demand higher incomes. This has triggered large scale sale of fallow lands to urban developers.
  • The study clearly shows that due to changing land use, biodiversity has suffered. The report suggests an urgent need to prepare a landscape level restoration plan.