The research project `Bees, biodiversity and forest livelihoods in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve’ began on the 1st June 2006. This three year project is funded under the UK Government-funded Darwin Initiative to study the interdependencies between bees, biodiversity and forest livelihoods in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve of the Western Ghats, India.
The indigenous bees of the mountainous Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve play an important role in local livelihoods -hunting honey from wild nesting Apis dorsata bees is part of the culture – however:
· The population size and distribution of these Apis dorsata bees is unknown
· The bees’ role in pollination and the maintenance of forest biodiversity has not been studied.
This new Project combines scientific data about the status of these indigenous bees and their ecology, with analysis of the social analysis of local people’s livelihoods.
The project is implemented locally by the Keystone Foundation, working in partnership with local indigenous communities and Forest Department staff, and three UK-based institutions: The School of International Development, University of East Anglia, Bees for Development and The Centre for Agri-Environmental Research University of Reading.
The project’s four main components:
· New scientific knowledge of the bees
· New knowledge about people’s livelihoods and the economic value and social role of the bees
Institutional capacity building
· Improved staff skills within well-motivated organizations: e.g. a specialist research unit within Keystone, field centres within local communities, and public service skills within State Forest Departments.
· Improved professional skills amongst project participants concerning research design, information systems, livelihoods analysis, and governance, Convention on Biodiversity [CBD] implementation, and generic skills in survey, design, and bee and pollination science.
Dissemination and advocacy
· In-country workshops, press, TV and radio reports, working with opinion formers and policy makers.
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