This research is especially critical, as Northeast India is currently facing a severe biodiversity crisis. Loss of biodiversity adversely impacts local human communities. Forests provide humans with vital life-sustaining services. The impacts of losing such services would be catastrophic. Forest resources are also an important means of income that provides food security to several forest dependent communities.
But given the unsustainable levels of extraction this will not be a viable source in the future and only push people toward poverty and malnutrition. Women are disproportionately affected by the loss of forest resources. Social roles and responsibilities of women across rural and forested landscapes require them to be reliant on such resources for survival and livelihood.
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Women are dependent on a variety of forest produce to ensure the economic stability of not just their families but of the community to which they belong. Thus, the loss of forest resources not only destabilizes food, water and health security among other factors, but also increases the vulnerability and decreases resilience of the rural poor especially women to external market forces and rapid demographic and economic shifts.Unfortunately, despite the severity of this crisis it is yet to be acknowledged let alone addressed by the national government, international agencies and the public. To take a step in that direction scientific knowledge on changing animal populations and ecosystems will be crucial to inform and develop conservation policies and mitigation measures.
Further, suitable conservation initiatives cannot be developed solely based on an ecological understanding of these forested systems. They also require an understanding of the drivers of human behavior that lead to this over-exploitation of natural resources. This may be achieved through a multidisciplinary exercise that draws from ecological, socio-economic and human behavioral sciences. Meaningful contribution to this endeavor is the ultimate goal of my research.