Experts design method to measure human pressure on wildlife

Kolkata, June 1 (IANS) A group of wildlife researchers, conservationists and forest officials has developed a unique Human Disturbance Index to map and calculate impact of human activities on biodiversity in wildlife parks and reserves, officials said on Wednesday.

The methodology is presented in the book ‘Recovering Biodiversity in Indian Forests’ published as part of the Springer Briefs Series, which presents concise summaries of cutting-edge science and practical applications across a variety of fields.

“The index allows quantification of human pressures. We have presented the methodology in the book so that officials in any park can use it, improve it and standardise it and apply it for conservation and management,” G.V. Reddy, Chief Wildlife Warden of Rajasthan and one of the authors, told IANS.

The authors of this book are Reddy, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) India Program scientists – Ullas Karanth, Samba Kumar and Krithi Karanth, and Jagdish Krishnaswamy from Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE).

Through nine parameters and seven indices like the number of trees cut, grazing etc. the technique enumerates the “quantum of disturbance”.

“If the area of study is highly disturbed then the species number have gone down, if it is medium disturbed then some species have gone up and some have gone down, and if the area is highly protected, then there is a good number of species. It is a simple manual process of adding up numbers,” explained Reddy about the method developed on the basis of his study at Nagarahole National Park, Karnataka.

Results clearly indicate human interventions trigger cascading effects on structure and function of the forest and essentially result in biodiversity loss, said Karanth.

The authors also discuss how protected areas are the strongest sources for conserving varied forms of biodiversity in India.

“We also recorded biodiversity responses to management interventions and found that quality of biodiversity was highest in highly protected and moderately protected areas,” said Karanth under whose guidance the study was conducted by Reddy as a part of his doctoral work in Manipal University, India.

The book is expected to be available after June 25.

–IANS

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