India is rich in cultural heritage and traditions of conserving forests are well known across India. Community’s perception about biodiversity and forests has been manifested through traditions like sacred groves ranging from few acres to many acres covering range of ecosystems and habitats. The sacred forests or sacred groves-as they are known popularly- are representatives of regional biodiversity and often serve as reference sites for biodiversity conservation. They not only harbour great species diversity across all taxa (plants, birds, butterflies, insects, mammals, amphibians, reptiles) but also provide critical habitat to important large forest birds such as Great pied hornbill and Malabar pied hornbill. AERF has built its community based conservation around this age old practice of participatory conservation and developed long term conservation approaches that are based on early work of revival of these sacred groves. These groves are facing many threats like clear felling of large trees for temple renovation, acculturation. Sacred forests are gene banks of extra-ordinary importance for humanity. Our early successes in conservation and restoration of sacred groves laid the foundation for our future strategies to achieve conservation on the ground. Sacred groves conservation remains the flagship program of AERF.
Main activities through this approach;
- Carbon stock estimation of selected sacred groves from North Western Ghats
- Bird surveys of sacred groves in the North Western Ghats
- Study on amphibian diversity in sacred grove of Kundi
- FAIRWILD certification of medicinal trees from sacred groves in the North Western Ghats