Corridor Conservation Planning
Effective conservation planning and management is crucial to secure corridors and maintain long-term functional connectivity between habitat patches. The Coalition for Wildlife Corridors aims to work at the science, policy and practice interface to strengthen the planning, design and implementation of corridor management plans that are key for achieving conservation success. Currently we have two linked initiatives focused on conservation planning:
- Strengthen corridor conservation plans
The Government of India recognizes the importance of conserving corridors, and this is reflected in the National Wildlife Action Plan 2017-31 as well as the guidelines for making Tiger Conservation Plans (TCPs) that are required to be developed for all declared TRs under Section 38V of the Wildlife Protection Act. TCPs provide a roadmap for conservation action from each TR and include a section on dispersal habitats and corridors for connectivity with other protected areas. NTCA has provided extensive guidelines for making corridor conservation plans as part of the TCPs. As a preliminary step towards strengthening corridor conservation planning, we are analyzing the corridor sections of TCPs to identify opportunities for improvement, verify incorporation of NTCA recommendations, and align TCPs with current global standards. We hope to develop a framework to increase the synergy between TCPs of tiger reserves that share a corridor to reduce redundancy in efforts and increase the overall efficiency.
We see TCP assessment as a preliminary step that will be followed by a series of focused workshops for specific corridors, whereby the applicability and feasibility of the recommendations can be thoroughly discussed, which will ultimately contribute to strengthening the connectivity component of TCPs. These workshops aim to facilitate exchange of ideas and to understand priorities among diverse stakeholders, including the Forest Department, other line departments, central government agencies, the Coalition partners, and other NGOs active in the landscape, thereby providing a panoramic perspective of the status and helping discern potential solutions.
We partnered with the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department to organize the first such workshop for the Satpura-Pench and Satpura-Melghat corridors in Pachmarhi in June 2023. Read about the workshop here.
- Aid in better implementation of corridor conservation plans
A recent global review of corridor conservation plans (Keeley et al. 2019) identified a few common attributes for successful implementation of a plan: 1) involvement of key stakeholders, from government to private landowners, throughout the implementation phase to achieve results on the ground, 2) supportive government policies and laws that facilitate implementation and encourage necessary funding, 3) leadership continuity and minimizing the turnover of staff/ people involved in implementation, and 4) use of a transparent and repeatable scientific approach. The Coalition for Wildlife Corridors aims to aid better implementation of conservation plans by focusing on these identified attributes.
In view of the multi-use nature of most corridors in India, it is essential to sustain collaborations among stakeholders during the implementation phase of the conservation plans. Acknowledging the issues and outlining potential solutions constitute the first stride of multi-stakeholder engagement for corridor conservation. The NTCA guidelines suggest mechanisms for forming a working multi-stakeholder committee for efficient corridor conservation. We aim to work closely with the Forest Department to ensure that active committees are formed for all corridors to ensure robust implementation of conservation plans. We aim to facilitate the implementation of conservation strategies by spearheading capacity building workshops for frontline forest staff, curating best practices that serve as a valuable resource for informed decision-making, and facilitating the incorporation of TCPs into working plans of forest divisions. We aim to provide crucial support for incorporating more science in the conservation plans by developing indicators and rigorous monitoring mechanisms, sharing crucial evidence about the wildlife use, and identifying the extent or boundaries of corridors and critical areas within them. Lastly, we also aim to engage in proactive outreach and advocacy to breathe life into the recommendations developed during corridor conservation planning.