Multi-stakeholder perceptions of efficiency in biodiversity conservation at limited access forests of the southern Western Ghats, India

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A. Kanagavel
R. Pandya
A. Prithvi
R. Raghavan


Biodiversity conservation is a collaborative effort involving numerous stakeholders. Attempting to balance different interests and developing effective working relationships between stakeholders is vital for successfully addressing issues of biodiversity conservation. Presently, biodiversity conservation in India is monopolised by state forest departments (FD) with negligible participation from local communities (who are directly affected by forest laws) and researchers (whose work can improve conservation). This study examines the efficiency of multiple stakeholders-local communities, FD, researchers and politicians in conserving biodiversity at the Anamalai - Palni Hills of the southern Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu. Efficiency here is defined as the amount of positive assistance stakeholders provide towards conserving biodiversity. A systematic sampling strategy through self-administered questionnaires was used to understand stakeholders perception of one another and the challenges they faced. The results highlight the FD as having the highest efficiency in conserving biodiversity followed by local communities, researchers and lastly, political leaders. Stakeholder evaluation of one another efficiency revealed a homogenous opinion towards local communities and the FD. However, a considerable difference was observed towards researchers whereby their efficiency was rated lower by local communities in comparison to the FD. Dependency on forest resources that was curbed by the FD invariably affected the attitude of local communities towards biodiversity conservation. On the other hand, low pay rolling schemes, inadequate facilities and political interference hinder the management capabilities of the FD. Increased research and outreach activities would benefit Kodaikanal and Theni, provided a collaborative effort to conserve biodiversity is pursued.

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