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Western Ghats (India)

Agroforestry systems (coffee, tea, rubber, pepper, arecanut, cardamom) shape much of Western Ghats in India. Commercial agriculture in this area has existed for centuries. Now, these commercial crops reach the margins of protected areas. In many cases, the only forests left are small sections which are either community-managed (i.e. sacred forests) or privately owned.

We propose an Sentinel Landscape located in the central section of the mountain range, from Goa to the Palakkad Gap, spanning across Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. All the ecosystem services in the intended areas express different spatial scales in different landscape contexts. Understanding the dynamics between tree cover, biodiversity and the variety of ecosystem services is a predominant issue in such landscapes.

One major undertaking will be to include 'dis-services' in the equation. We cannot fully understand the relationship between people and forests without incorporating what the costs of living in close proximity to forest entails: crop loss to wildlife, transmission of diseases, insecurity, etc. Resolving economic and environmental trade-offs is similarly important, and a scientifically and politically informed framework to understand the trade-offs between services and between stakeholders, and the imbalance between actors can help define the outcomes of proposed policies of natural resources management.