Any space for nature in Indian slums?

It is not uncommon to hear Bangalore residents (often from the wealthier parts of the city) bemoaning the loss of trees and green space that has occurred as Bangalore rose to be the Silicon Valley of India. 

But what about the people who live in th640 recorded slums¹ across the city? What access to nature and greenery do they have and how do they use it?

Density of green space in Bangalore

Given that slums often inhabit marginal and polluted land, and that they have a high population density, one would hazard a guess that trees are not particularly common. This assumption is supported by a recent study conducted by Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, in conjunction with the University of Greifswald, Germany. Researchers Divya Gopal, Harini Nagendra and Michael Manthey observed 44 slums across Bangalore and confirmed that the tree density in slums is in fact substantially lower than that in the wealthier residential areas of Bangalore.¹

What are the implications of this for urban development, poverty and human health?

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Indian tiger reserves: tourism ban and conservation charges

In recent years, India has seen a dramatic increase in the number of high-end ecotourism facilities around tiger reserves and an accompanying increase in the numbers of tourists. This has caused a degradation of fragile tiger habitat and last year a local NGO filed a public interest petition to the Supreme Court, aimed at curtailing tourist numbers.

Source: National Tiger Conservation Authority

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that there is to be no tourism in the “core” areas of tiger reserves.

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Western Ghats world heritage: label or catalyst for action

The Western Ghats in India tell a fascinating tale of competing interests and agendas. Recently declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO after a persistent 10-year campaign by the Indian Government, the Ghats have been the subject of a number of different agendas, pursued by conservationists, state and central government officials, UN officials, Indian and international scientists, forest-dweller activists and development and mining advocates alike.

No one can dispute that the Western Ghats, a 1600km mountain range stretching along the west coast of India, are a “biodiversity hotspot, containing over 5 000 flowering plants, 139 mammals, 508 birds and 179 amphibian species”.

Map of Western Ghats, IndiaSource: IUCN

This stunning timelapse photography by renowned wildlife photographer Sandesh Kadur gives you a glimpse into that other world. 

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