Strengthening Landscape Management and Conservation – India

Update 09/14/2022

Dear Colleagues:

It’s two days until submission time for the Concept Note.  Jerry and I evaluated the progress against all the requirements for a successful proposal.  With the short time we have left, we believe we are still far from having the key elements needed in order for us to be competitive.  The concept paper is still a very rough draft and needs a lot of additional input.  To have a finely tuned concept done by Thursday would be difficult.  Plus we were unable to secure a commitment of an Indian NGO partner with boots on the ground experience with tribal/indigenous communities in the two biosphere reserves.  We had conversations with a German NGO with local partners in both areas, but given USAID’s priority of having an Indian institution implementing livelihood activities in ecosystem services, we did not feel that would be a viable solution.  The strategy for a $2 million leverage is also a challenge without partnerships well set up.

We are disappointed to end this initiative but it’s better to not submit a proposal that’s not sufficiently compelling to win above some stiff competition.  We have a great team, at a premier, world class university, and we look forward to other opportunities that will be forthcoming in biodiversity.

Thanks to everyone for your contributions and enthusiasm.


Gary R. Burniske

Assistant Director for Program Development

International Programs in Agriculture (IPIA)

College of Agriculture

Purdue University

Agricultural Administration Building, Room 104

615 W. State Street

West Lafayette, IN 47907

Tel. 765-494-0941

Fax 765-494-9613

Cel. 360-836-7179



USAID just released a NOFO for Strengthening Landscape Management and Conservation in India.  It’s a 5-year, $20m initiative.  The purpose of the Strengthening Landscape Management and Conservation Activity is to work in concert with the Government of India (GoI) to enhance the management of ecological landscapes for biodiversity conservation, human well-being and climate benefits, contributing to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved carbon sequestration, and enhanced environmental benefits for the country.

Through this activity, USAID/India and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) will strengthen management practices in targeted landscapes by: (1) improving the management of protected areas and their corridors for wildlife conservation and other ecological benefits; (2) improving inclusive livelihoods from ecosystem services and (3) strengthening the conditions for institutionalizing landscape conservation.

The concept note is due on September 16th, and the shortlisted consortia will be invited to give an oral presentation, and then go through a co-creation process to finally develop a full-blown application.

Here is the Notice of Funding Opportunity.


Update 09/09/2022

Dear Colleagues:

Please find attached the notes from yesterday’s meeting (Purdue internal meeting).




Notes from Meeting – Strengthening Landscape Management and Conservation

September 7, 2022


Ananth Grama – Professor, Department of Computer Science

Dharmendra Saraswat – Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Aaron Thompson – Associate Professor, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture

Bob Marzec – Professor, English Department, CLA

Jerry Shively – Associate Dean/Director IPIA

Jingjing Lian – Associate Professor FNR

Bryan Pijanowski – Professor FNR

Aaron Thompson – Associate Professor HLA

Heidi Arola – Director, Office of Global Engagement

Gary Burniske – IPIA

Meeting Objectives

The objective of the meeting was to determine whether Purdue should move forward with the concept note that’s due on September 16 (ET), and whether Purdue has the experience and partnerships to achieve the three main objectives of the program:

1.       Improve management of connected landscapes for wildlife habitat and other ecological benefits. (biodiversity)

2.       Improved livelihoods from ecosystem services. (livelihoods)

3.       Strengthen conditions for institutionalizing landscape conservation for human and climate benefits. (climate)

This is in light of the two geographic regions that we’ve selected: Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve (Terrestrial) and the Indian Sundarbans (Marine).

Our discussion focused on synergies and partners.


The team had been engaged in exchanges for ideas and partnerships on Pachmarhi and there are a number of institutions we can partner with to conduct program activities in about this biosphere reserve.  The Sundarbans and the inclusion of a marine ecosystem as a requirement by USAID is new, just having been included in a revision to the NOFO.

Bryan Pijanowski described a project that the Center for Global Soundscapes is carrying out in the Bangladeshi Sundarbans in cooperation with the Bangladeshi Department of Forestry and Shahjala University of Science and Technology.  The program is supported by NASA and Oxford University (UK).  The program has placed acoustic sensor across a significant area in the Bangladeshi Sundarbans.  Other tools that have been developed include the association of hyperspectral images with data collected from the sensors.  The project is collecting and analyzing species diversity.  The sensor network is in essence an environmental observatory that can interface with data from climate change.  The program also assesses the impact of freshwater withdrawal upstream on the biodiversity in mangrove ecosystems and correlate it with forest inventory data.

Bryan’s program does not work in India but there is some collaboration since both India and Bangladesh have created UNESCO biosphere reserves for the Sundarbans region.  Bryan noted that the India Sundarbans are facing greater challenges with degradation because of significant freshwater diversion in the river basins.  In other regions, Bryan has experience working with indigenous communities.

We could build models on climate change and biodiversity and define tipping points caused by human activity.  This would help both protected area managers and communities with decision-making.  Our models could project into the future, predict different conservation outcomes, and enable partners to look at different options.  The data generated by sensors could provide decision support tools and help define impacts of behavior change.

Jerry made a suggestion that we might develop a new approach to protected areas boundaries that could change over time.

Partnerships and Collaboration

Dharmendra has been networking with his colleagues in India for potential collaboration.  One of these collaborators includes Gautam Talukdar, who is the Head of the Protected Area Networks Wildlife Institute of India.  He knows about the project but is in the field until next week.  He would be a strong collaborator.  In addition, Dhamendra was in contact with ICAR (Indian Council of Ag Research), that is not a government entity but independently registered as societies, suggested the following areas of intervention:

1) Gender neutral hand tools and animal drawn equipment for different field operations

2) Pre-and-Post production mechanization of millets

3) Gravity fed micro irrigation systems for small holding farmers

4) Off season cultivation of vegetables using low cost protected structures

·         In Jharkhand Science i has collaborators the have worked with tribal communities with post-harvest technologies.

·         Since government partners cannot receive USAID funds, we could potentially pay honoraria, and leverage GoI collaboration as part of the leverage.

·         The CG Centers might be a potential partner/collaborator.

·         We have a diverse set of Indian collaborators, with 50% being women.

·         We have a marine scientist with Science i – that could be a potential collaborator

For NGO partners, CRS (Catholic Relief Services) could be an international partner. CRS has a program addressing gender in the Sundarbans region.  SEWA (Self-Employed Women’s Association) could also be a potential NGO partner and could focus on gender and social inclusion.  Jerry said he would reach out to CRS and Heidi would reach out to SEWA.

For diversifying the Purdue team, some suggestions include:

·         Kristen Bellisario – Center of Global Soundscapes that has worked in India with a Purdue Shah Lab grant

·         Ellen Wells that is part of the Environmental Justice, Special Initiative Leader (with Aaron Thompson).

Next Steps:

Participants in the meeting felt that we should move forward with the concept note.  Ananth emphasized the need to very well polished introductory paragraphs to have a clean story line-up.  He suggested that a couple of faculty lock-in to work on it.

Jerry said he would set up a google doc, and include heading and possible team members to contribute to the various sections.  Everyone would begin to contribute to the document as soon as possible as the deadline is approaching.