Sacred Groves’ Contributions to Forest Loss Prevention and Habitat Connectivity in Southwest India

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Research in the conservation space has most often focused on traditional protected areas like national parks as being the model places that provide the benefits and values of conserved land like high biodiversity, healthy habitats, and balanced ecosystems. However, other classes of land like sacred groves have the potential to contribute to these same conservation values. We assessed the conservation value of sacred groves by analyzing two specific variables: 1) forest loss that is happening in and around the sacred groves and 2) the sacred groves' contributions to habitat connectivity. A comparison analysis between the amount of forest loss in areas surrounding sacred groves and the district in which the sacred groves are located was performed. This analysis was used to determine if and the extent to which sacred groves help prevent forest loss. Two connectivity analyses were performed: a creation of habitat corridors and an analysis using a set of geoprocessing tools called GeoHAT. These analyses were used to compare what the connectivity of the landscape looks like, both with and without the sacred groves. Results show that despite the historic forest loss in the region, loss in more recent decades is minimal and does not differ with proximity to sacred groves. Results of the connectivity analyses indicate that the sacred groves' contributions to the connectivity of the region is negligible. This is likely due to their extremely small size along with the severity of fragmentation in the region.






undefined (2018). Sacred Groves’ Contributions to Forest Loss Prevention and Habitat Connectivity in Southwest India. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

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