Amit John Kurien

PhD Student, ATREE

PhD research topic
Shifting Cultivation, Deforestation and Livelihood Sustainability: Causes and Consequences of Forest-Agricultural Transformations in Meghalaya, Northeast India

Research interests
I am interested in human-environment relations and their interrelationship with forest-agricultural changes in tropical landscapes, with a keen interest in deforestation and forest degradation. My dissertation focuses on the dynamics of shifting cultivation (swidden) its role in deforestation, and its linkages with livelihood changes and their ecological consequences in Garo hills, Meghalaya in Northeast India. I adopt an interdisciplinary framework to understand the linkages between causes and consequences of social and ecological factors operating across scales between the household- and village-level and landscape-level, and its relevance for forest cover, livelihoods, land management and policy. The study is undertaken in the context of changing patterns in shifting cultivation, indigenous village societies in transition, and historical and contemporary changes in the political economy of the Northeast India. I use multiple methods for the study including Remote Sensing and GIS, ecological and qual-quant social science methods.

Peer-reviewed publications

  • Kurien, A.J., Lele, S., Nagendra, H. (20XX) How much shifting cultivation and forest is there anyway? Examining the extent, and nature of intensification of shifting cultivation in West Garo hills, India. (In preparation)
  • Lele, S and Kurien, A. (2011) Interdisciplinary analysis of the environment: insights from tropical forest research. Environmental Conservation, 38(2): 1-23.

Reviews and popular articles

  • Kurien, A. 2011. Old Trajectories & New Strategies. Current Conservation, 4(4):03.
  • Kurien, A. 2007. 14° North, 104° East - Unveiling the Cambodian Plains. Sanctuary Asia, June: 50-57.

Presentations and papers delivered

  • Mapping the Extent of and Pattern of Shifting cultivation in West Garo hills, Northeast India Poster presented at ATREE 20th year anniversary conference, 2017, Bangalore
  • Forests of the Mind: Contesting official Forest representations in a Shifting cultivation (jhum) landscape in Garo hills, India. Student Conference on Conservation Science (SCCS). 10 September 2015, Bangalore.
  • Re-examining the Shifting Cultivation-Deforestation debate to understand Forest-Agricultural Transformations in Garo hills. Jan 2014, Graduate workshop on Environment and Development: New Frontiers of Research on North-East India, by Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, Assam, INDIA.
  • Cambodia: Examining the status quo – an outsider's perspective. April 2008. Presentation on the links between ecological and socio-political history, and conservation in Cambodia, made to PhD students and researchers at Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
  • Beyond village relocation – Response of tiger (Panthera tigris), prey species and their habitat in Rajaji National Park, India. March 2007. Presentation made at the inaugural conference of the Asian chapter of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, Mahabalipuram, India.
  • Do tigers shy away from people? What happens when people stop living in a tiger habitat? – A case study from the Shivaliks of Uttaranchal. September 2005. Presentation made at the XIXth Annual Research Seminar of Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.

Grants awarded

  • Duleep Matthai Nature Conservation Fellowship (2013-2015): 'Shifting Cultivation and Landscape change in Meghalaya, Northeast India: Causes and Consequences'
  • Save the Tiger Fund (2005-2007)
    Grant name: Tiger Response to Prey and Human Disturbance (Grant no. 2005-0013-027)
  • Work and research experience

    • Trainer-Advisor (April-June 2006), Wildlife Conservation Society, Cambodia for a line transect Distance sampling based wildlife survey and monitoring project in the Preah Vihear Protected Forest, Northern Cambodia. Work included survey designing, training of forest staff, implementation and statistical analysis of the data collected.
    • Project Assistant (Dec 2007–June 2009), Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science. Coordinating an Indo-Norwegian project on Wildlife-Human Conflict in India.
    • Editorial Assistant (April-Dec 2007), with Conservation and Society - a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary, and open access journal based in Bangalore, India
    • Undertook an independent ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants and recorded the honey hunting practices of the Kurumba and Irula tribes in the tropical evergreen forests of Nilgiris, South India (April 2001).