Topic 11

Strategies for stakeholder-generated solutions in management and intervention of neglected ecosystems

Madhur Anand

Professor, School of Environmental Sciences, UOG; Director & PI, Anand Lab, GIER; University of Guelph (UOG); Guelph Institute for Environmental Research (GIER)

Uma Ramakrishnan

Professor; National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (NCBS-TIFR)

Sourya Das

Senior Researcher (Economics); WOTR (Watershed Organisation Trust) Centre for Resilience Studies (WCReS), Watershed Organization Trust (WOTR)

Polash Mukerjee

Lead: Air Quality and Climate Resilience, NRDC India Program; Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), India Initiative

Abhayraj Naik

Co-Founder; Initiative for Climate Action (ICA)

Anish Andheria

President; Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT)

Mahesh Sankaran

Professor - Community & Ecosystems Ecology; National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (NCBS-TIFR)

Soubadra Devy

Fellow, Convenor - Suri Sehgal Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation; Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE)

Neha Dara

Business Head; RoundGlass Sustain

Anjali Joisa

Community Member; Initiative for Climate Action (ICA)

Søren Hvilshøj

Global Division Director - Water Resources; Rambøll, Denmark

Dada Dadas

Research Associate; Watershed Organization Trust (WOTR)

Prima Madan

Lead - Energy, Efficiency and Cooling; Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), India Initiative

MOTIVATION

Unplanned development, top-down policies, and short- term developmental vision coupled with overexploitation and undervaluation of natural resources, and consumptive lifestyles have led to increasing threats to India’s ecosystems. There is also inadequate interdisciplinary capacity in decision-making structures and processes that bring together natural and applied sciences, social sciences, and the broader humanities. All these factors have led to ecosystem degradation, biodiversity erosion and increasing climate vulnerabilities. Further, there has been a change in flow of ecosystem services and disservices, economic and opportunistic inequity amongst our communities, and governance failures and erosion of trust in public institutions.
To address these issues, we need to work on effective modelling, participatory and pluralistic valuation, consensus-based knowledge, local stewardship of nature, and mainstreaming of biodiversity sustenance and human well-being that are conspicuously missing in prevailing dominant frameworks for the cost-benefit analysis of our ecosystems and human impacts on them.

AIMS

1. Locate neglected ecosystems in India (grasslands, wetlands or other) where ecosystem degradation was observed and collate economic, environmental. ecological, policy, social, and cultural indicators regarding their environmental history.
2. Execute an integrative assessment of environmental degradation and evaluate direct and indirect drivers of events leading to degradation.
3. Characterize the interactions and perceptions of local communities in and around the neglected ecosystems from socioeconomic, cultural/historical, health, governance, and equity standpoints.
4. Execute a pathways approach to model potential scenarios that lead to, or prevent, degradation and factor in the interactions and dependencies of the communities on these ecosystems.
5. Discuss considerations and potential outcomes regarding neglected ecosystems with decision makers, implementers, and communities to identify strategies that enable stakeholder-generated solutions for management and intervention.

IMPACT

1. This project will contribute to policy roadmaps and reform for a more integrated approach to ecosystems. This is useful for research, teaching and training contexts as well.
2. Carefully curated case studies on neglected (grassland and/or wetland) ecosystems will encourage further research, advocacy and community mobilisation on ecosystems and larger systemic frameworks relating to them.4. This project can provide entry points for climate action to interface with agriculture in India.