Enviornment Prelims cum Mains

Study identifies 567 barriers in 30 tiger corridors in Central India

The News

  • In an effort towards landscape-level wildlife conservation, a recent study has identified and mapped various barriers along the tiger corridors of Central India including 16 Protected Areas.

 

Context

  • Most efforts at wildlife conservation are mostly focused on Protected Areas.
  • However, given the small sizes of protected areas and human interference, this approach could seriously limit the conservation of species like Tiger.
  • This is because to maintain a viable population and the diversity of its gene pool, Tigers require large area, low densities and long dispersal distances.
  • Thus, landscape-level conservation approach like wildlife corridors is increasingly being recognized in wildlife conservation.
  • The first step towards landscape-level conservation is identifying the barriers along these corridors and this study is an effort in this direction.

 

Highlights of the Study

Area of Study

  • The area under study included tiger corridors of Central India which is a global-priority landscape for tiger conservation and is home to about 31% of India’s tiger population.
  • It consists of tropical dry deciduous and tropical moist deciduous forests.
  • The study landscape of 384,508 km2is spread mainly across three states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Chhattisgarh and contains 16 Pas.
  • The areas of protected areas range from 87 km2to 3,188 km2.
  • Further the region has following features:
    • Agriculture, cattle rearing, and collection of forest products are important sources of livelihood
    • The region is also rich in coal and mineral deposits
    • Infrastructure projects such as transportation networks, mines, reservoirs and hydropower
  • Thus it is difficult to have a contiguous landscape for free movement of tiger as the above-mentioned features pass through the tiger conservation landscape in central India.

 

Key Results

  • The study identified and mapped 567 barriers within 30 linkages in Central Indian Tiger corridor landscape.
  • Out of 567 barriers,
  • 265 barriers intersect with infrastructure (694 km of roads, 150 km of railway, 48 reservoirs, 10 mines)
  • Surface mines, thermal power plants and coal mines are other barriers.
  • 302 barriers are due to land-use or gaps in forest cover.
  • Land-use pattern of the barriers include agriculture, forest, degraded cover, open-water, barren land, and settlements.
  • Further corridors between Kanha-Pench, Satpura-Melghat, Kanha-Nagzira, Nagzira-Pench, and Pench-Umred-Tadoba have high quality and potential for tiger connectivity and should be maintained.

 

Significance of the study

  • Tigers are a conservation-dependent species that currently occur only in 7% of their historic range.
  • In tropical areas tigers are closely associated with tropical moist broadleaf forests and tropical dry forests in South-Asia.
  • Tiger conservation landscapes consist of small and isolated PAs embedded in a mosaic of natural and anthropogenic land-use activities.
  • 57% of the world’s tiger population is found in India, of which about 35% live outside PAs.
  • Several development projects are proposed within potential tiger corridors.
  • Further lack of a comprehensive national land use policy risks unplanned, unmitigated, and permanent diversion of forestland.
  • Thus landscape-level conservation strategy including connectivity between protected areas in the tiger corridor is essential to conserve viable tiger population.

 

Current Efforts

  • India has upgraded PAs to Tiger Reserves designated specifically for tiger conservation.
  • Between 2009 and 2016, eighteen PAs were upgraded to Tiger Reserves.

 

Way Forward

  • Strategies to promote connectivity include
  • Focusing on conserving areas like protected areas that facilitate movement
  • Focusing on restoring connectivity across areas that impede movement by removing barriers or building wildlife-friendly crossings.
  • Connectivity between PAs could be accomplished by
  1. Protection of corridors
  2. Restoration of degraded habitats
  3. Construction of mitigation structures
  4. Purchasing land along corridors

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