India faces an ecological crisis of massive proportions. The overexploitation of the country’s forests and wetlands is eating away at vital ecological processes. Rapid and unplanned economic development threatens to fragment and devour the wildlife habitats that remain. Plant and animal species are joining the ranks of the critically endangered at faster rates than ever before.
Using the Sariska Tiger Reserve as one of its major anchors, this book analyses the historical, socio-political, and biological contexts of nature conservation in the country in an effort to identify the malaise underlying India’s dominant conservation paradigm, which is primarily one of top-down control and exclusion. It then surveys alternative approaches to conservation—emerging in India and elsewhere—which attempt to reconcile social equity with biodiversity goals.
The author argues that a broad-based participatory approach to conservation, accommodating both use-based and preservationist paradigms, is necessary if we are to see India’s extraordinary wildlife survive into the next century. Environmental justice and improved governance have to
be as much a part of this agenda as sound ecological science and practice.
Ghazala Shahabuddin works on issues at the interface of human society and biodiversity in India and South Asia. She obtained her PhD in conservation biology from Duke University in 1998 and since then has worked and published extensively on habitat fragmentation, sustainable forest management, the human impact on biodiversity, and conservation-induced displacement. She was a Fellow at the Council for Social Development in New Delhi and a Research Associate with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s India Program from 2003 to 2007. She has also been a consultant with the World Bank on global tiger conservation issues. She has co-edited (with Mahesh Rangarajan) Making Conservation Work: Securing Biodiversity in this New Century (2007). She is currently Associate Professor, School of Human Ecology, B.R. Ambedkar University, Delhi.