Current Projects

Sacred groves in tropical landscape
Sacred groves are socio-culturally protected vegetation patches dotted in the tropical landscape. They represent diverse cultural, social and religious association of the communities with the landscape. This nature conservation tradition can be considered as a time tested model to study the multiple facets of human association with natural world. This project aims to explore the role of sacred groves in natural resource conservation, ecosystem services, functional biodiversity maintenance, local livelihood improvements and as an important landscape component.

Socio-Cultural History of Old Trees
From time immemorial, plants especially old trees have an intricate entanglement with the human society. Apart from the materialistic standpoint, their mighty presence in the landscape has been deeply revered for centuries or even millennia. In tropical countries like India, where old trees are abundant in landscape but hardly receive proper attention and care from society at large. Beyond their religious and social importance, they are not taken seriously by us. Obviously, felling and uprooting of old trees disturb us, but their absence from our lives is barely felt owing to a lack of awareness on their role in nature. This multifaceted study emphasizes on old tree distribution, their current status, ecological role and social importance to the community. . . . . . . Read More

Wild edible food diversity
From an enormous diversity of one third of a million flowering plant species on this earth, around 20-30% are palatable and edible. In contrast, nearly twenty domesticated species supply up to 85% of the world’s food base; of which three, rice, maize and wheat, are primary cereals make up nearly half of the world’s calorie intake. However, uncultivated, wild and minimally managed edible food is still an important source of nutrition for a large fraction of ethnic, rural, and semi-urban societies across cultures. It indicates, despite globally dominant food culture and over-dependence on selected set of crops, the acceptance of wild food is vibrantly alive to this day.
India is a country of immense bio-cultural diversity and consuming wild edible flora is ingrained in our culture. More than thousand species are eaten as leafy vegetable, fleshy fruit, underground parts, flower, and seeds, but little is known about the general pattern of use. We, in this project, set out to explore the spectrum of wild food diversity and their pattern of use. We also intend to disseminate the knowledge with an aim to sensitize.

Sustainable Agriculture 
Wisdom from Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) may often play an important role in developing sustainable agriculture practice. Catching fish and other aquatic fauna in rice fields has been an age-old culture among many Asian countrymen. Ranging from south, south-east to east Asia, it is still in vogue; it has also become relatively organized in many countries and emerged as a successful production system that enabled sustainable intensification. Coupling indigenous catfish and deep-water rice landraces, we would examine the viability of the co-cultivation system in terms of production, its agro-ecological underpinnings, and its role in sustainable livelihood generation.

Biodiversity, food, and culture
Elements of biodiversity, both flora and fauna, have an inspiring effect on the realms of art and culture, be it as motifs and symbols in paintings, sculptures, smaller household art objects, or as metaphors or protagonists in folktales, oral traditions, or on the foundation of our existence, i.e., food. We wish to understand the nexus by collating and documenting its inklings scattered in the domains of ethnobiology, anthropology, folk art, older texts, history, archaeology, and oral traditions. We seek to analyze it to interpret how all these living forms influence our aesthetic sense and have an overarching impact on our biological, cultural, mental well-being.

Dialogue between two worlds: an attempt to mend epistemic bonds

Forest and Adivasi Women: a different way of making connections