At department of Sociology the thrust areas are action research programmes involving traditional forest based income generating activities including bamboo crafts, NTFP collection and marketing, eco tourism etc. Apart from this department also takes up preparation of plans for voluntary resettlement and social impact assessments of development and conservation programmes. The department also takes up policy research with a thrust on the historical process of policy making and implementation of policies.
Considerable attention is being paid to community forestry in the country today in afforestation, watershed development, raising energy plantations etc. Kerala has also launched an ambitious Participatory Forest Management Programme, in which the main thrust is on sharing incentives of sustainable use of forests including responsible tourism with local people. The department has been involved in the implementation and evaluation studies of the PFM.
Another thrust area of research in the department is Agroforestry. Interestingly people in Kerala have been practitioners of agroforestry long before the term agroforestry was coined by ‘experts’. Most of the home-gardens in Kerala contain a large number of tree species which provide timber, firewood, fodder, green manure, fruits, etc. and forms an important component in the farming system. Intensity of tree cropping varies between agro-climatic regions and between households within a given region. The latter is primarily attributable to the socio-economic environment of the household. Department have made efforts to identify relationship between socio-economic status of the household and tree cropping intensity.
Research highlights of Sociology Department:
- Assessment of the rural institutions for development of appropriate forestry enterprises: case study of traditional reed industry in Kerala
- Developed five agroforestry models that are economically and socially suitable and environmentally viable in the State
- Developed site specific landscape-livelihood approach to Protected Area management to reduce the resource use conflicts and depletion of the natural resources
- A multidisciplinary programme on 'Rehabilitation of degraded forests through landscape-based participatory action programme' emphasized the human interface as a critical part of the landscape and highlighted the need to consider the social dynamics in any rehabilitation programme of the forest ecosystems
- Coding and indexing system for more than 400 Indigenous Knowledge in the State (of which 40 related to knowledge and use of trees) collected and developed for storing and easy retrieval.
- Prepared a Participatory Forest Management Primer for practitioners and planners
- linking conservation and forest management with sustainable livelihoods and resource use conflicts
- Promoted bamboo cluster development by developing sustainable livelihood through organization, training and people centered institutional setup
- Developed relocation plan of tribal settlements in Wayanad wildlife sanctuary
- Establishment of a model watershed with peoples’ participation
Ongoing Research Projects
- Historical review of ecological and development trajectory of various sectors in anamalais and highranges of the southern Western Ghats
Contact: Dr. M Amruth
Kerala Forest Research Institute
Peechi 680653, Thrissur, Kerala, INDIA