India Regional Climate Centre
Earthwatch is undertaking a comprehensive forest research programme looking at the impacts of climate change on forests. This Climate Centre is one of five global research centres.
In India, millions of people live and work in forests. Forests supply firewood, building materials, foods, medicines, and animal fodder.
The Western Ghats of southern India is one of the most species-rich environments in the world, and many of the plants and animals that live there occur nowhere else. Approximately one fifth of original forest cover remains intact, and large areas are subjected to human disturbance and spread of invasive species.
In India, climate change is likely to cause forest boundaries to shift, which will in turn impact upon biodiversity, the supply of forest products, and the livelihoods of the people who depend on them. Without good management, Indian forests will no longer be able to provide services to people and support high biological diversity into the future.
The India Regional Climate Centre opened in 2009 and is located in the Sirsi Forest Division of Uttara Kannada district, Karnataka State. The landscape is a combination of evergreen and deciduous forest with a range of rainfall regimes. Some of the forest is protected as Forest Department reserves, some is community forest land and local communities have full access to forest resources, and some areas are privately managed as plantations.
At this site, Earthwatch is working with the Indian Institute of Sciences, who have been conducting ecological and socio-economic studies in the reserve and in community and private forests for nearly 25 years.
The research aim is to compare how different forest types respond to climate. Methodologies will include monitoring tree growth, mortality, annual growth cycles, and regeneration in forests under different management regimes. These changes will be related to variations in climatic conditions, enabling us to understand how different species and forest types react.
The results gathered over the next five years will help us to understand how India's forests will respond to climate change. Earthwatch and its partner organisations will then be in a position to develop guidelines for government and community forest managers across the geographical region, helping them to maximise the resilience of their forests to changing weather patterns.
Learn more about this programme and Earthwatch's role in the HSBC Climate Partnership.