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Darwin Initiative

BEES, BIODIVERSITY AND FOREST LIVELIHOODS IN THE INITIATIVE NILGIRI BOSPHERE RESERVE

We are pleased to announce a new, three year project studying the interdependencies between bees, biodiversity and forest livelihoods. This research, supported by the UK Government-funded Darwin Initiative, will take place in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve of the Western Ghats, India. The Project commences on 1 June 2006.

The indigenous bees of the mountainous Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve play an important role in local livelihoods - hunting honey from wild nesting Apis dorsata bees is part of the culture - however:

- The population size and distribution of these Apis dorsata bees is unknown

- The bees' role in pollination and the maintenance of forest biodiversity has not been studied.

This new Project will combine scientific data about the status of these indigenous bees and their ecology, with analysis of the local people's livelihoods. The Project is implemented locally by the Keystone Foundation, working in partnership with local indigenous communities and Forest Department staff, and Bees for Development working in partnership with two other UK-based institutions: The Overseas Development Group University of East Anglia, and The Centre for Agri-Environmental Research University of Reading.

The Project's four main components:

Research

- New scientific knowledge of the bees.

- New knowledge about people's livelihoods and the economic value and social role of the bees.

Institutional capacity building

- Improved staff skills within well-motivated organisations: for example a specialist research unit within Keystone, field centres within local communities, and public service skills within State Forest Departments.

Training

- In-country workshops, press, TV and radio reports, working with opinion formers and policy makers.

The Darwin Initiative aims to promote biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of resources around the world. The Initiative is funded and administered by the UK Department for Environment, Food and

Rural Affairs, (Defra).

More information at: www.darwin.gov.uk