FERAL: Foundation for Ecological Research, Advocacy and Learning

Foundation for Ecological Research, Advocacy and Learning

Bridging the Shencottah Gap: How Payments for Ecosystem Services Can Restore Biodiversity Outside Protected Areas in India


Protected areas constitute only about 4% of the land area of India. Many ecologically rich and sensitive regions are outside this network, thus providing a potential for enlarging the protected area network through incorporation of additional land into the protected areas. While such inclusions are possible with Government owned land, incorporating privately owned land can be expensive and time consuming. Thus immediate steps required to maintain and enhance biodiversity in areas identified as corridors on both state owned forests and privately owned land. 

This project seeks to establish protocols and build experience in using a payments for ecosystem services approach to restore and conserve biodiversity in such areas and also to rationalize the existing PA network to incorporate areas within multiple use reserve forests critical to long term sustenance of wildlife and their habitat. The project targets the Shencottah gap, a mosaic of remnant moist and dry deciduous forests interspersed with rubber, tea, teak, and other farms.

The objectives of the project are:

a. Develop mechanisms to make payments to conserve biodiversity

b. Establish baseline data and a monitoring system which will link payments and measure the success of our conservation interventions.



  1. Data on species richness, distribution and connectivity for large mammals from this project has contributed towards identification and delineation of the most significant areas for large mammal conservation which are outside the PA network and these results have been shared with respective state forest departments to facilitate ongoing conservation efforts.
  2. Our results indicate two potential areas that are important corridors for large mammal connectivity, especially tiger and elephant and prioritises restoration actions that needs to be immediately undertaken. These occur in the western and eastern parts of the landscape, each of the corridors have their own advantages and disadvantages in terms of biological value, human presence, and conservation challenges. But from a conservation perspective, restoring both would be beneficial, as it would provide multiple movement routes for large mammals and provide better conservation options in rapidly urbanising environment.
  3. A mechanism to involve individual land owners who volunteer in biodiversity conservation on their own land was developed. It includes, identifying privately owned parcels of land that are strategically located and are of high conservation value with respect to 1) Extent of habitat, 2) Quality of the habitat 3) Proximity to forest 4) Potential to enhance habitat quality and more importantly 5) The actions the farmer is willing to undertake on his land.  The idea is to pay a subset of these landowners who are chosen such that they provide the highest conservation value per rupee.  Selection of  the “best value for money” proposals is based on a reverse auction and farmers are made quarterly payments for improving habitat and for enhancing biodiversity on their land.
  4. Along with piloting community payments towards monitoring wildlife we also signed agreements with individual landowner to enhance biodiversity on private lands, bringing an area of 131 acres under better land management and also providing potential habitat for wildlife.


Project Information


Srinivas Vaidyanathan
Principal Investigator
DST Positions

Project Information

Budget: ₹ 23,973,264

Duration: October, 2009 to June, 2015

Funding Agencies

Critical Eco system partnership fund – USA

Project Images

FERAL - once wild, runs wild again.