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Research


The Institute has a major research program in both environment Science and Geoinformatics. The faculty undertake several consultancy projects at the behest of various organizations. The research projects are funded by various Government organizations such as the Ministry of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Central Zoo Authority, Mahad Industrial Estate, etc. The research done at the Institute is cutting edge and uses an interdisciplinary approach. A list of research projects (ongoing and completed) is given in the section on ‘Research’.

Ongoing Research Projects

Ongoing Research Projects

  • Strengthening capacity building through developing a unique portal for Geospatial Education and Training (GET) in India, funded by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India

    The speed at which new fields are adopting geospatial tecnologies and the rate at which equipment and software are modified and updated make it difficult for many educational institutions to keep current. Within the network of educational institutions in the country, this issue is further complicated because communication and the sharing of geospatial information and educational resources is limited. While today there are several programs for geospatial training in the country at the University level, there is a lack of appropriate curriculum models, faculty expertise in remote sensing, and access to remote sensing data.  In the absence of faculty involvement in geospatial research, educational institutes are unable to build the required database of data that can be used for teaching.

    The Task Force of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India has recommended that the nation must enable itself in this technology area and create a knowledge base that will give it an edge in the international arena but also bring benefits to its own national development efforts. The MHRD Task Force advocates appropriate national interventions for a knowledge innovation programme.

    This project has developed an online portal IGET – Indian Geospatial Education and Training to ensure strengthening of capacity building in geospatial technologies across the country. The portal optimizes downloading, submission, review, and search of geospatial curriculum materials including open source software with operational manuals, training material in the form of books/ practical exercises, sample data including the links for data resources such as India Geoportal Bhuvan, case studies, test beds, applications specific to Indian context. It also networks geospatial educators across the country and involves them in creating teaching-learning units using Indian examples and related to geospatial technologies which further builds the database as well as providing a discussion forum to exchange views and also seek solutions for issues.

  • Prioritization of biodiversity heritage sites in the Western Ghat, Maharashtra , funded by the Maharashtra State Biodiversity Board

    In Maharashtra, the Western Ghats are already fragmented and in several areas they are separated by roads, railways, dams and neo-urban settlements. Thus identifying viable corridors has become an urgently essential key to biodiversity conservation. In some sectors a continuous corridor is untenable. The option is to protect several ‘hotspecks’ as stepping stones in identified biorich habitats to preserve biodiversity as best possible and identify threats to a ‘permeable matrix’. The hotspecks include Reserved Forests and other ecologically intact areas such as plateaus, forts, and escarpments which are preserved due to their inaccessibility as well as community conserved sites, such as sacred groves, temple sites, and water ‘kunds’.

    This project aims to protect this network of identified ecologically valuable sites by building up a much needed data base of the ecologically fragile sites (hotspecks) such as important Reserved Forests, plateaus of high floral endemism and species richness; river sources and riverine tracts of exceptional value; avifaunal colonies; erosion prone catchments of dams, and important sacred groves as well as threats and develop participatory management recommendations through active participation of local people especially in still wilderness areas.

  • Linking biodiversity and faunal values to Cultural Visual Heritage as a tool for Biodiversity Conservation in Maharashtra , funded by the Maharashtra State Biodiversity Board

    The Biodiversity Act of India (2002) has provisions for several programs such as Biodiversity Management Committees, People’s Biodiversity Registers and Biological Heritage Sites to be set up for biodiversity conservation in the country. However, the history of biodiversity conservation in India has not paid much emphasis in the involvement of the indigenous knowledge of the local people with the conservation programs of the area. Indigenous knowledge is locale specific and is an integral part of the cultural heritage of the people. Art and crafts are elements of cultural heritage and the biodiversity is a part of the natural heritage of the people.

    This project has documented the linkages of the biodiversity and faunal values to the visual heritage of the local people as it is an aspect which has never been explored with respect to the biodiversity of an area. Using surveys and secondary data, visual art of the region has been collated. Expert interviews with different stakeholders has facilitated the documentation of information on visual art, folklore and other cultural assets with special emphasis on links to their immediate environment and biodiversity of the region.

    The outcomes of the project will help in improved selection of sites for the creation of Biological Management Committees (BMC), People’s Biodiversity Registers (PBR) and Biological Heritage Sites (BHS).

  • “Refinement and dissemination of national training of trainer module and follow-up activities”, funded by the GIZ, Germany.
  • “Analysis of various national and state laws, to understand its collective impact on management and conservation of protected areas (in-situ conservation) in Maharashtra”, funded by the Ministry of Environment and Forests
  • “Prioritization of Biodiversity heritage sites of Western Ghats, Maharashtra”, funded by the Maharashtra State Biodiversity Board.
  • “Linking Biodiversity and faunal values to Cultural Visual Heritage as a tool for Biodiversity Conservation in Maharashtra” funded by the Maharashtra State Biodiversity Board.
  • ‘Modelling the impedance and mortality locations of wildlife using geoinformatics along highways in Maharashtra State for improvement of EIA, SEA and BIA techniques in India’, funded by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India (2011-2014)

    This project focuses on estimate the impedance on movements of indicator species due to operation of the NH4 highway in Maharashtra state and model the mortality risk posed by the NH4 highway for selected indicator species with the aim of identifying zones of relative mortality of indicator species for developing wildlife mitigation measures such wildlife underpass / overpass or ecoducts providing a valuable input into EIA, SEA projects in India

  • ‘Ecological assessment of the common effluent treatment plant, Mahad, Maharashtra’ funded by the Mahad Industrial Association (2011-2012)
  • ‘Health disparities in Pune/India’ jointly with the University of Cologne Germany funded by the DFG, Germany (2011-2012),

    The objective of the study is to analyse the distribution of risk factors and disease burden of environment-related diseases which have been caused through physical elements in the natural (e.g. water) and unnatural (e.g. garbage) environment causing diseases such as vector borne diseases, gastro-intestinal diseases, pollution related diseases, etc. in Pune. The project will be implemented on two different levels: (i) on the macro level: a GIS mapping on the city level and (ii) on the micro level: a detailed analysis of health determining factors in six different research areas representing different parts of the city as well as different socioeconomic groups.

  • ‘Preparing database of echolocation calls of bats in Western Ghats’, funded by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. (2010-2013)

    The research project involves making an inventory of bat diversity in the Western Ghats through the use of modern scientific techniques, a first for the country.

Completed Research Projects

Completed Research Projects

  • ‘Study of wildlife habitat changes in the fragmented forests of the Dang, South Gujarat, using aerial photo documentation’ funded by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India

    This project involves use of aerial photographs of the Dangs taken in 1989 for an earlier project- the ‘Dangs Ecological Project’. This project has identified percent loss of trees in the area considering that the Forest Department has given certain special rights to the tribals in the Dangs and is in the process of suggesting management strategies.

  • ‘Use of GIS for wildlife management’ funded by the Ministry of Environment and Forests

    This project done in the Ahmednagar and Sholapur districts of Maharashtra state built upon an earlier project that dealt with mitigation of conflicts. The data collected fro the earlier project was put on to a GIS system to develop land use maps. These are presently being used to design strategies for conservation of the black buck in the view of extensive irrigation in the project are which is converting their habitat into agricultural lands.

  • ‘Key conservation issues in the semi-arid Deccan plateau’ Project under the MAB SCHEME funded by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India, New Delhi (2002)

    The primary objective of this study was aimed at mitigating the conflict between conservation goals and human utilisation of natural resources. The key issues were to minimize the effect of crop damage by blackbuck, develop a strategy to reduce predation of sheep by wolf and restore biological values in existing Drought Prone Area Program plantations.

    • To mitigate the problem caused due to crop damage by black buck and thus reduce the extent of man-animal conflict.
    • Develop a conservation scheme, which aims at protecting the wolf by improving habitat conditions and reintroduction of its natural prey by a rational zoning of the area and formulating a rangeland management scheme for livestock.
    • Quantify wildlife diversity in Social Forestry plantations, suggest variations in their management that could substantially increase their biological value.

    The area of work was in Ahmednagar, Sholapur and Satara districts of Maharashtra. The project developed site specific management options that could be used by the Forest Department to decrease man-animal conflict. Possible solutions included range land management, crop protection cooperatives, crop insurance schemes, electric fencing, etc. These were assessed and discussed extensively at the local level for local participation.

    These local level initiatives were used as a model for other similar areas. An important aspect has been the development of locale specific conservation awareness programs initiated at school level using slide shows, dramas, role plays, etc. and drive home the conservation message so that a more positive attitude and a pride of having an endangered species in their area. The information was directly utilised by the Forest Department to design appropriate management plans. The project provided the baseline data essential for the notification of a Wolf Sanctuary in Maharashtra.

  • ‘Identification of biorich patches and corridors between protected areas in the northern sector of the Western Ghats for promoting conservation action’ funded by the Indira Gandhi Conservation Monitoring Center of the World Wide Fund for Nature-India New Delhi (2004)

    The study has identified forest islands and gaps and has estimated their size the extent of isolation from each other and the status of existing or possible corridors in the main sector of the study area from Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary to Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary.. A map of forest areas referred to as ‘islands’ having a forest cover greater than 80% and those between 40% to 80% have been identified. An analyses of this information has provided a deeper understanding of gaps between forest fragments the existence of gaps in the forest and corridors between the two Protected Areas has helped identify sites that need to be notified as new Protected Areas.

    This has been discussed at meetings of the Wildlife Advisory Board, Maharashtra and two new Protected Areas in the region have been proposed and accepted. The boundaries for these two PAs of Kalsubai and Mulshi have been selected on the bases of Satellite images based on both ecological and administrative criteria. The project has thus been the bases for initiating a comprehensive rational conservation strategy at the regional level for this biologically rich and ecologically sensitive area.

  • ‘Ecorestorative strategies to preserve the biologically sensitive protected areas in Maharashtra with special reference to grassland protected area management’ funded by the Maharashtra State Forest Department (2000-2003)

    The project brought out the biological value and conservation potential of the grasslands which are now considered as National Assets. In such areas it was found that, sustainable use can revert grasslands to a state which includes more native species including grasses, forages and their dependent fauna.

    The study carried out in Phaltan, Nannaj and Rehekuri in Satara, Sholapur and Ahmednagar discticts in Maharashtra state has proved the point that unless grazing pressures on grasslands are reduced they cannot be conserved. The project designed a conservation strategy for grassland PAs in Maharashtra at the landscape level, ecosystem level, species level and at conflict level. It also designed eco-development strategies and a participatory approach for grassland PA management. During the period of the project Forest Department personnel were trained in field techniques and strategies for monitoring grassland Protected Areas.

  • Project on ‘Inland Wetlands of India’ funded by the Ministry of Environment and Forests through Salim Ali Center for Ornithology and Natural History, Coimbatore.

    The BVIEER in collaboration with the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) implemented the project ‘Inland Wetlands of India’ for Maharashtra State. Eight districts in Maharashtra were selected based on the satellite imagery interpretation of wetlands in the State. The wetlands were selected on the basis of their size. NGOs from eight districts namely Pune, Sholapur, Nasik, Aurangabad, Nagpur were selected for implementation of this project at the district level. The workshop to orient the participants to techniques in sample collection, data collection and bird, fish and plant identification in field was organized. The outputs of the project have added inputs into national database on wetlands. The maps prepared from this analysis will be used for the management of the wetlands in the state by the Forest Department and the concerned authorities.

  • ‘Survey of Protected Areas in Maharashtra’ Project’ funded by the Ministry of Environment and Forests through the Indian Institute of Public Administration.

    This project developed a databse on various issues related to management of 36 PAs in Maharashtra. This survey of the Protected Areas in Maharashtra aimed at collecting and analyzing information on the Protected Areas in Maharashtra towards preparing a comprehensive report that will help in developing an ongoing monitoring system for assessing the status of each Protected Area. This data was used for developing management guidelines for individual Protected Areas in Maharashtra.

    This project highlighted several gaps in the management of the Protected Areas in the state. Many of the aspects have not been given adequate attention to in the day-to-day working of the Management. These gaps were either due to general neglect of the management or due to paucity of funds. But these have severely affected the Protected Areas and the wildlife that resides in them.

    The project also gave a strategy for the conservation of biodiversity in Maharashtra and a strategy to develop and IPAS. This included suggestions on

    1. Reorganizing and strengthening of the Wildlife Wing
    2. Regrouping of Protected Areas and their organizational framework
    3. Training for PA managers
    4. Management planning for Pas within the IPAS
    5. Human issues to PA management
    6. Legal issues
    7. Research, Training and conservation awareness issues
  • ‘A conservation awareness and action program for an ecologically fragile region using local traditional values’ American Association for the Advancement of Science, USA

    The aim of this project was to study community perceptions on biodiversity with a focus on gaps in traditional information in relation to modern ‘thought’ process with a view to identify how local people felt as these can be bridged.

    This study highlighted the fact that while local people understand plants and animals that they used or worshipped they did not understand the broader implications of conserving biodiversity nor were they concerned about it. A locale specific conservation awareness program for communities and schools was designed based on the gaps identified during the study. This brought about not only an enhanced awareness of the value of biodiversity in their own areas but also motivated them to implement conservation action programs, such as growing indigenous species of plants, preventing sale of private forest land, setting up alternatives for fuel wood, etc.

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