Publications


Intra-annual dynamics of water stress in the central Indian Highlands from 2002 to 2012
Authors: Benjamin Clark, Ruth DeFries, & Jagdish Krishnaswamy
Year: 2016
This paper examines the effects of converting cropland to tree or forest cover in the Central India Highlands (CIH). The paper examines the impact of increased forest cover on groundwater infiltration and recharge, which are essential for sustainable agricultural production. The findings indicate that expanding forest cover to 33% in the CIH would reduce groundwater recharge by 7.94 mm (−1%) when converting the average cropland and increase it by 15.38 mm (3%) if reforestation is conducted on non-paddy agriculture. Read more...



Wastelands of the Mind: The Identity Crisis of India wastelands of the Mind: The Identity Crisis of India’s Savanna Grasslands
Authors: Abi Tamim Vanak
Year: 2015
The idea that wastelands are unproductive continues to be pervasive and is used by various Agencies in India to gain control over marginal landscapes and remake them for productive purposes with dire results. However, this perspective s ignores the fact that grasslands in India has existed as natural ecosystems as far as 50 million years ago as evidenced by fossil records, and support more than 500 million livestock, and millions of pastoralists dependent on these for fodder. This article talks about changing this mindset that India’s grasslands are “wastelands” and recognising some pressing issues. Read more...



Filling in the (forest) blanks: the past, present and future of India’s savanna grasslands
Authors: Abi Tamim Vanak, Ankila Hiremath, Siddhartha Krishnan, Ganesh TG
Year: 2017
Asian savannas have, in particular, been grossly misconstrued for reasons that are part biogeographical and part historic. Biogeographically, much of South and Southeast Asia lies at the wetter end of the savanna-climate region, making Asian savannas structurally similar to deciduous forests. This article talks about the past, present, and future of India’s savanna grasslands, and their misclassification as degraded forests. Read more...



Successful Agroforestry Models for Different Agro-Ecological Zones of India
Authors: Handa A K, Dev I, Rizvi R H, Kumar N, Ram A, Kumar D, Kumar A, Bhaskar S, Dhyani S K, Rizvi J
Year: 2019
Researchers in India have developed best practices and benefits of several agroforestry systems, but the information is scattered and not easily available to those in need of it. This book is an effort to fill that gap in accessing available knowledge. It brings together at one place the successful, farmer- and environment-friendly agroforestry models that promise prosperity to the poor in different agro ecological regions of India. Majority of the models were developed and tested by ICAR-CAFRI, All India Coordinated Research Project on Agroforestry, State Agricultural Universities, and others. Read more...



Common Land & Poor Livestock Keepers- Experiences from Common Land Development in the States of Rajasthan & Madhya Pradesh in India
Prepared by: Foundation of Ecological Security (FES)
Experiences from Common Land Development in the States of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in India
The study provides facts and figures to help evaluate the dependence of livestock keepers on the Commons for feed and fodder and estimate the monetary value. It also provides relevant facts and figures for understanding the qualitative and quantitative growth of foliage on the Commons and their potential in different agro-eco zones. Read more...



Migration, assets, and forest degradation in a tropical deciduous forest of South Asia
Authors: Sandra Baquié, Johannes Urpelainen, Sarika Khanwilkar, Christopher S. Galletti, Nandini Velho, Pinki Mondal, Harini Nagendra, Ruth DeFries
Year: 2021
The study looks at the potential of internal migration to alleviate poverty by exploring migrant characteristics and their investments in India. The authors evaluate whether there are short-term benefits for Central Indian forests by assessing the relationship between migration and changes in forest use over a 5-year timespan. Findings show that internal migration has the potential to alleviate poverty but migration does not reduce forest degradation in such a short term. Read more...



Firewood, forests, and fringe populations: Exploring the inequitable socioeconomic dimensions of Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) adoption in India
Authors: Sarika Khanwilkar, Carlos F .Gould, Ruth DeFries, Bilal Habib, Johannes Urpelainen
Year: 2019
The authors investigate cooking fuel use in households to determine the impact of the policy in the Central Indian Highlands Landscape (CIHL). The findings indicate that despite overall growth in LPG use, disparities in access to clean cooking fuels remain between socioeconomic groups in India. While 90% of LPG-using households continue to use firewood, households that have owned LPG for more years report spending less time collecting firewood, indicating a waning reliance on firewood over time. Policies targeting communities with marginalized social groups living near forests can further accelerate LPG adoption and displace firewood use. Read more...



Sensitivity of seasonal migration to climatic variability in central India
Authors: Pooja Choski, Deepti Singh, Jitendra Singh, Pinki Mondal, Harini Nagendra, Johannes Urpelainen, and Ruth S. DeFries
Year: 2019
This study focuses on a vulnerable population living in forest-fringe villages of central India, where seasonal migration is a common livelihood strategy for poor households to supplement their incomes with remittances. The authors find that households investing remittances from migration in agricultural intensification could become increasingly sensitive to climate variability, particularly with water shortages and projected increases in climate variability in the region. Promotion of non-agricultural livelihood options and climate-resilient agriculture could reduce the sensitivity of migration to climate variability in the study region. Read more...



Multiple cropping alone does not improve year-round food security among smallholders in rural India
Authors: Pinki Mondal, Ruth S. DeFries, Jessica Clark, Nicole Flowerhill, Md Arif, Aurélie Harou, Shauna M. Downs, and Jessica Fanzo.
Year: 2021
This study focuses on a small-scale agricultural system in India to understand the current state of dietary diversity and food insecurity among the farmer communities. The study landscape has witnessed a steady rise in multiple cropping (i.e. harvesting more than once a year) along with irrigation over the last two decades. However, they find that multiple cropping cannot be used as a cure-all strategy. Rather a combination of income and nutrition strategies, including a more diverse home garden, diverse income portfolio, and access to clean cooking fuel, is required to achieve year-round dietary diversity or food security. Read more...



Improved household living standards can restore dry tropical forests
Authors: Ruth DeFries, Meghna Agarwala, Sandra Baquie, Pooja Choksi, Sarika Khanwilkar, Pinki Mondal, Harini Nagendra, and Johannes Uperlainen.
Year: 2021
Durable housing and alternatives to fuelwood for cooking are critical needs to reduce multi-dimensional poverty. These improvements also potentially reduce pressure on forests and alleviate forest degradation. The authors test this possibility in dry tropical forests of the Central Indian Highlands where tribal and other marginalized populations rely on forests for energy, construction materials, and other livelihood needs. Results suggest that improved living standards can both reduce forest degradation and alleviate poverty. Forest restoration efforts can target improved living standards for local communities without conflicts over land tenure or taking land out of production to plant trees. Read more...



Commoning the Commons: A sourcebook to Strengthen Management and Governance of Water as Commons
Prepared by: Foundation of Ecological Security (FES)
The sourcebook has been developed to help FES partners, practitioners, and anyone engaging with issues of water and its management, strengthen processes of the management and governance of water as Commons. It also states the possible pathways, processes and action-steps which can be used to implement commoning of water resources. Finally, the sourcebook shares the experiences and insights in a simple way for practitioners to unfold similar initiatives in other locations. Read more...



Restoring Lantana camara Invaded Tropical Deciduous Forest: The Response of Native Plant Regeneration to two Common Lantana Removal Practices
Authors: Hiremath, A.J., A. Prasad, B. Sundaram
Year: 2018
Lantana camara (hereafter, Lantana), a pantropical invasive species, has become widespread across India. We tested the relative efficacy of two Lantana removal techniques—cutting and burning, and uprooting—commonly employed by forest managers. Lantana in the uprooted plots was significantly denser than in the cut-and-burnt plots, making the latter the more effective of the removal techniques. Given the numerical dominance of Lantana seeds in the soil, and their wide dispersal, no Lantana removal is likely to be effective without post-removal monitoring and weeding. Read more...