RCE Kodagu-2016

1. Project Title: 
Community linked Biodiversity Conservation: Sacred Groves of Kodagu, Karnataka; India.
2. Thematic area/s addressed by the project
3. Project partner contact information : 
Centre for Environment Education (CEE)
Project Implementer
Main Contact: 
Santosh R Sutar
Santosh Sutar
Alternative project contact: 
Natasha Ballal
4. Project type
5. Project description
Provide a short description of the project including strategies, regional challenges, aims and specific project activities.: 

Sacred Groves (SG) of Kodagu are patches of forests that were once part of larger landscapes. Due to extensive deforestation, fragmentation, encroachment and cultivation, the sacred groves and protected area around have decreased considerably. The Sacred Groves of Kodagu are unique as every village has at least one Sacred Grove. Each Sacred Grove has its own legend, lore, and myths which form an integral part of the sacred grove. Today, due to changes in forest structure, religious beliefs, and perception towards the groves, sacred groves face many threats.  Sacred groves provide a livelihood option and natural form of mitigation for the local people around these groves.  Realizing the importance of community participation and a more holistic view towards the protection of the grove, this program was developed to revive and bring awareness among the various stakeholders, on the importance of Sacred Groves and linkages to their lives. The need was felt, to motivate and include the community in preserving the sacred groves as common property. The program focused on the grove as a learning centre for school children and to the community from an ESD approach ecological, social, culturally and economic view point.


The Sacred groves of Virajpet taluk of Kodagu were selected for the study and to execute the conservation education program. Ten Sacred groves were selected from the Virajpet Taluk which was at variable distances from the protected area and from one another.  These ten scared groves were sampled for their biodiversity. Inventories were done for each grove by doing a rapid assessment of biodiversity in more than one taxon. 


Research: In each grove the forest structural studies were done. Four transects of 25 X 4 meters were laid and all trees above 30cm girth at breast were recorded. The dominant species were recorded. Regeneration studies were done at each grove. The flora included trees, shrubs, herbs and climbers. Birds, butterflies and mammals (mostly indirect evidence) were recorded. The forestry college, Ponnampet undertook the primary research for the project. To calculate species richness, the shannon diversity index was used.

Questionnaires: Semi structured interviews were conducted to assess the cultural and management approach for each of the selected sacred groves. In each grove the head/ Committee leader was approached to carry out the questioning, seek permission for research and other devarakadu related activities.

Capacity Building

This approach was used to impart the knowledge and awareness of sacred groves such as its importance, biodiversity, ecological services, and ethical services to various stakeholders – forest department officials, teachers, students, and the community. The duration of the capacity building ranged from 3 hours to 8 hours and specific modules for each target group was developed and followed for the same.

Communication Materials

These materials act as triggers for people to understand the concepts and issues and are essential for awareness. As part of this initiative, set of four poster were developed highlighting the importance of and need for protection of forest were developed and distributed to schools


Collective Initiatives

Unless the community or the general public is made aware of the importance and relevance of groves, any conservation or protection efforts of sacred groves may not succeed. Thus, straightforward community outreach activities were initiated that included outdoor signage’s appreciating the groves and information signage’s on selected trees within each grove. Discussions with community members who manage sacred groves were held for cross learning. School children collected interesting stories pertaining to local groves from their parents with the help of teachers.

Outdoor camp for school children at their nearby sacred groves provided better insights amoung the children about the ecological, ethical, social, biological diversity and cultural aspects of these groves. These learning’s by the student were linked to their curriculum in the camps.

Trail laid out within the groves enable visitors to explore and experience sacred groves. News coverage of the activities in newspapers and fortnightly magazine helped to spread the message among the mass.

Results: Sacred groves assist as tools that document the management of biotic resources through people’s participation. (Ashish Anthwal et. al, 2015). It is vital to involve the different stakeholders of the community for developing new strategies and preservation of the sacred groves. The study shows that each sacred grove is unique in its forest structure with rich biological diversity and home to many endemic species.

Analysis from the survey indicates that teachers can play a vital role in spreading the message on importance of sacred among community through children. Teachers ‘are able to make their school children understand the science aspect of the sacred groves and link it to the curriculum. Hence, strengthens the communication approach tool of TCCPC (Teacher to Child, Child to Child, Child to Parent and Parents to Community). Teachers can promote awareness by informing students about issues, problems by informing students about effective problem strategies and discussing cognitive and motivation characteristics of thinking. The twin benefits of this “consciousness raising are: a) it transfers responsibility for monitoring learning from teachers to students themselves and b) it promotes positive self-perceptions effects and motivation among motivation among students (Scott G. Paris and Peter Winograd). The inquisitive learning among children about sacred groves has further increased and they are able to identify and tell about at least 10 floral and faunal species found in their neighbourhood groves. Of 301 students involved in this initiative, 53% were boys and the remaining 47% were girls.

Impressive outdoor signage’s on sacred groves make lasting impression among the community and more particularly tourist visitors. The signage’s developed and displayed near groves has reached to hundreds of people.

7. Provide references and reference materials : 
6. Project status
The project started in the year November 2015 and was completed in July 2016.
8. Tagging