Conservation at the Crossroads by Ghazala Shahabuddin

About the Speaker:

Dr. Ghazala Shahabuddin [Ecologist and Author]

Dr. Ghazala Shahabuddin is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Ecology, Development and Research (CEDAR), Delhi, where she is researching the ecological and institutional aspects of decentralized forest management, urban ecology, conservation-induced displacement and wildlife policy in India.

Dr. Shahabuddin earned her Ph.D. in conservation biology from Duke University (1998), where she studied the ecological consequences of tropical forest fragmentation, based in the Guri Islands of Venezuela. Subsequently, she worked with a number of research organizations and non-profits in India including the Council for Social Development and Wildlife Conservation Society-India Programme. She has also worked as a consultant with the World Bank (Washington DC), United Nations Development Programme (Delhi), and CARE-Nepal (Kathmandu). Between 2009-14, Dr. Shahabuddin worked as an Associate Professor at the School of Human Ecology at Ambedkar University, Delhi, where she helped establish M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Environment and Development, and taught ecology, environmental policy and politics, and statistics.

Dr. Shahabuddin has published extensively in scientific journals in the areas of conservation biology, ornithology, and wildlife policy. Her book, Conservation at the Crossroads: Science, Society and the Future of India’s Wildlife (Permanent Black, India, 2010), examines the science and politics of nature conservation in India. She has co-edited two other books: Nature Without Borders (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Making Conservation Work: Securing Biodiversity in This New Century (Permanent Black, 2007).

About the Book:

India faces an ecological crisis of massive proportions. The overexploitation of the country’s forests and wetlands is eating away at vital ecological processes. Rapid and unplanned economic development threatens to fragment and devour the wildlife habitats that remain. Plant and animal species are joining the ranks of the critically endangered at faster rates than ever before. Using the Sariska Tiger Reserve as one of its major anchors, this book analyses the historical, socio-political and biological contexts of nature conservation in the country in an effort to identify the malaise underlying India’s dominant conservation paradigm, which is primarily one of top-down control and exclusion. It then surveys alternative approaches to conservation—emerging in India and elsewhere—which attempt to reconcile social equity with biodiversity goals. The author argues that a broad-based participatory approach to conservation, accommodating both use-based and preservationist paradigms, is necessary if we are to see India’s extraordinary wildlife survive into the next century. Environmental justice and improved governance have to be as much a part of this agenda as sound ecological science and practice.

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