One cannot help but marvel at the treasure trove of biodiversity that India is home to. Within its boundaries, the country is home to a multitude of ecological regions including dense forests, wetlands, coastal areas and mountainous terrains. Since its inception, WWF-India has been tireless in its efforts to help conserve these critical regions from multiple pressures, through strategic interventions involving key stakeholders.
The Critical Regions ApproachIn early 2000, WWF-India realized that approaches to conservationexisting then were no longer effective, and the time had come to seek new and improved strategies towards safeguarding the populations of India’s wildlife and their habitats. In 2002-03, the landscape approach to conservation was adopted by WWF-India to revolutionize the overall conservation strategy to one that harmonized the needs of wildlife with the needs of local communities. The new approach represented a paradigm shift in focus from one that was selective in its focus only on Protected Areas to one that encompassed vast regions represented by a string of Protected Areas connected through Reserve Forests and human dominated areas. The landscape approach has been hailed as a comprehensive driving force towards a large, safe and sustainable habitat for wildlife and includes long-term conservation focus with strategies for land use change, livelihoods and development policies across the landscape.
Within and around these critical landscapes, WWF-India has aimed to involve local communities and government agencies as major stakeholders in its overall conservation goals.
Currently, WWF-India is addressing species conservation through field level activities in different landscapes as well as through direct interventions aimed at conserving a particular species. These programmes focus on threats to wildlife and the issues surrounding these threats. Prominent among these are poaching, human-wildlife conflict, trade in wildlife parts, habitat destruction and legal support. The project activities are carried out at field as well as policy levels. They are mainly related to scientific information gathering, working with the local communities, NGOs and government agencies including the state forest departments.
The overall objectives under which these activties are undertaken are:
- Tiger populations in priority landscapes are conserved for posterity
- Elephant populations and their habtiats are secured in Terai Arc Landscape, North Bank Landscape, Kaziranga Karbi Anglong Landscape and Western Ghats Nilgiris Landscape
- Distribution of rhinos in North Bank Landscape, Kaziranga Karbi Anglong Landscape and Terai Arc Landscape is expanded to ensure long term survival
- Conserve populations and habitats of red panda, snow leopard and Nilgiri tahr
- Innovative and scalable models of community based conservation, sustainable livelihoods, and institutional partnerships are established in all landscapes
- Landscape and forest conservation priorities are integrated into state development plans and policy advocacy undertaken for forest, species and habitat conservation