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The moist deciduous forests of India’s North Western Ghats offer one of the most species-rich ecosystems in South Asia. A mountain range rising to over 8,500 feet, the Ghats intercept the wet monsoon winds off the Arabian Sea. The resulting precipitation and cooler temperatures create numerous microclimates that are necessary to shelter endangered species such as the Indian Pangolin, Dhole, Gaur and a striking variety of endemic plants.
Though as rich in biodiversity as the South Western Ghats, the North Western Ghats have received much less attention in terms of research and conservation funding. Due to this lack of attention, vital habitats on private lands are severely threatened as the current protected area system does not completely safeguard the many different types of ecosystems in the region.
Despite their high biodiversity value, the Districts of Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg are particularly under protected. Importantly, these sites lie in an area where the moist deciduous forests of the North Western Ghats overlap the moist forests of the Malabar Coast, and they are situated in an important wildlife corridor that connects the pre-existing Sahyadri Tiger Reserve, Amba Forest Reserve and Chandoli National Park.
To strengthen protection of this key area, Rainforest Trust is working with local partner Applied Environmental Research Foundation (AERF) to create the new Prachitgad Community Reserve. Utilizing conservation agreements, the new reserve will immediately stop unsustainable clearing of forest in the area. Essential conditions of these agreements require no felling of trees, cattle grazing, laying of traps nor hunting, thereby allowing this amazingly rich forest to rebound and thrive for the species that depend on it.
Key Species (Based on IUCN Red List)
Indian Pangolin (EN), Dhole (EN), Gaur (VU), Sambar Deer (VU)
Loss of habitat, hunting, unsustainable forest practices
Creating the Prachitgad Community Reserve
Applied Environmental Research Foundation (AERF)
Total Cost of Project
Price per Acre
A rapid biodiversity assessment within the site of the proposed new Prachitgad Community Reserve revealed 310 plant, 19 mammal and 80 bird species in a 1,235-acre area. Additionally, this area holds a variety of forest habitats dominated by moist deciduous forests, including some evergreen trees and scrub.
Large mammal species such as Sambar Deer, Gaur, Dhole (also known as Asiatic Wild Dogs) and Indian Pangolin have all been documented in the area of the new reserve, as well as Near Threatened bird species like the Great Hornbill and Malabar Pied Hornbill. Additionally, the proposed protected area fulfills all three criteria of an Important Plant Area (IPA): the presence of threatened species, exceptionally rich plant diversity and habitats of conservation importance. The site serves as an important corridor between Sahyadri Tiger Reserve and Amba Reserve Forest and lies adjacent to Chandoli National Park in the east. It is predicted that the list of threatened species in the area will increase significantly once in-depth biodiversity assessments of the site can be accomplished.
The greatest threat to the forests of the North Western Ghats comes from the removal of trees for wood fuel, agriculture and development. Many of these important habitats found on private lands are under severe pressure.
An ongoing lack of forest management can lead to natural disasters like landslides, while contributing to the loss of important biodiversity and habitats. Poaching, smuggling and violations of other wildlife regulations have become problematic in many of India’s traditionally managed protected areas. The relatively new category of Community Reserve within the Indian protected area designation system seeks to change this perspective and alleviate this problem.
Local community members in the proposed reserve area are mainly small-scale farmers.
The major source of income for locals comes from farming crops like mangos and cashews. To address short-term monetary needs, communities are increasingly looking to sell their forests to logging contractors. These communities have been consulted and will be involved in the new reserve through ecotourism initiatives and the sustainable harvest and sale of wild fruits, honey, seeds and other forest products.
Thanks to the generous support of our Board members and other supporters who cover all of our operating expenses, Rainforest Trust is able to allocate 100% of donations to conservation action. No board member receives financial benefit and our staff salaries are modest.
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