Resource, Use, Culture And Ecological Change: A Case Study Of The Nilgiri Hills Of Southern India
Over the last two decades, there have been increasing concerns about environmental degradation and its consequences on the long-term sustainability of socio-economic systems around the world. The publication of the report of the Club of Rome in 1972, (Meadows et al. 1972) focused on the issue of limits to growth. Since then, there has been a profusion of literature and general models have been developed to address the causes of environmental degradation and the unsustainability of current patterns of growth (Ehrlich and Ehrlich 1970; 1990). Essentially these models used parameters that included population growth, consumption levels and aspects of technology, and their effects on the environment. While these models and studies were at a macro level that helped focus attention on the patterns of growth and their unsustainability, they did not provide insights into the mechanisms that were driving ecological change, nor suggest alternative models of growth. An entry point into the current study is to understand the mechanisms that drive ecological change. Motivated by concerns for environmental degradation, and the need to understand the mechanisms that drive ecological change, the study is situated in the academic domain of studies on human-nature interactions. The complex nature of interactions between human groups with their environment and their dependence on the situational context, requires that such studies be at a regional and local scale for which sufficient detail is available. This particular study is situated in the Nilgiri hills in the Western Ghats of Southern India for which such detailed information is available. The study reconstructs the ecological history of the Nilgiri area during the last 200 years, and from this laboratory of human-nature interactions, attempts to derive general patterns.