Nitin D. Rai

Nationality: India
Address: Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment
Royal Enclave, Srirampura, Jakkur PO
Bangalore - 560064
Phone: +91 80 23535555;
Fax: +91 80 23530070;


  • 2003: Ph.D., Department of Biology, Pennsylvania State University. 'Human use, reproductive ecology, and life history of Garcinia gummi-gutta, a non timber forest product, in the Western Ghats, India'.
  • 1991: M.Sc., Wildlife Biology, Wildlife Institute of India. 'A study of heterospecific flocking and non-breeding bird community structure of Rajaji National Park, India'.
  • 1987: B.Sc., Environmental Science, Chemistry, and Zoology, Bangalore University, India.


  • April 2010 to August 2010: Fulbright - Nehru Visiting Fellow, Antioch University, Seattle, USA.
  • March 2004 onwards: Fellow, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Bangalore.
  • February 2004: Consultant, Forests and Livelihoods programme, Centre for International Forestry Research, Bogor.
  • June 2003 - October 2003: Visiting Researcher, Instituto do Homem e Meio Ambiente da Amazonia (IMAZON), Belem, Brazil.
  • January 1998 - August 2001: Dissertation fieldwork on the ecological and socio-economic aspects of collection of a non timber forest product (Garcinia gummi-gatta) in India.
  • January 2000 - January 2003: Collaborator, Global non timber forest product comparison project, Forest products and people program, Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor.
  • March 1998 - June 1999: Associate Researcher, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore.
  • August 1994 - May 2003: Teaching assistant, Department of Biology, Pennsylvania State University.
  • February 1993 - September 1993: Research Assistant, Small carnivore project, Wildlife Institute of India. Conducted a survey of small carnivores in the northeastern states of Mizoram and Sikkim.
  • October 1991 - October 1992: Technical Assistant, Wildlife Institute of India. Surveyed the Western Ghats for the endangered Malabar civet (Viverra civettina).
  • May 1992: Research assistant, Nilgiri Tahr Foundation, Minnesota. Surveyed the Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Western Ghats, for viable Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius) populations.
  • August 1987 - April 1988: Field research assistant, Mammal ecology project, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science. Collected data on large mammal population densities, predation rates, and dietary habits in the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary.


  • December 1993 - May 1994: Researcher, Survival Anglia Films, U. K. Researched the possibility for a film on the wildlife of the Western Ghats.
  • May 1988 - June 1998: Production Manager, Kaleido India Films. Worked on a film on the wildlife of the Western Ghats titled 'Call of the wild'.
  • May 1983 - May 1986: Instructor, World Wide Fund for Nature - India. Instructor at Nature Orientation camps in Bandipur National Park, and Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka, India.

Courses taught:

  • August 1994 - May 2002: Teaching assistant, Department of Biology, Pennsylvania State University. Taught Experimental field biology (1994 and 1997), Introductory biology (1995, 1996, 2000 - 2002), and Aquatic ecology (1995).
  • 2006, 2007: Forest Ecology lectures in three CISED short courses on Environment and Development, Bangalore.
  • 2007 and 2008: ATREE Ph.D. program course: Co-taught an Integrative course in Conservation Science;
  • 2009: ATREE Ph.D. program. Co-taught an Elective course in Political Ecology.

Professional activities

  • Gave a talk titled 'Reconciling Conservation and Livelihoods through the Harvest of a Non-Timber Forest Product in the Western Ghats, India.' At a symposium, 'A future beneath the trees: an international symposium on Non-Timber Forest Products', August 2005, in Victoria, B.C. Canada.
  • Presented a poster titled 'The ecological and socio-economic aspects of forest fruit harvest in the Western Ghats of India' at the First DIVERSITAS Open Science Conference held in Oaxaca, Mexico from the 9-12 November 2005.
  • Presented a talk titled 'A Fine Balance: Reconciling Conservation and Livelihoods through Non-Timber Forest Product harvest in India' at the Centro de Investigaciones en Ecosytemas, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. 22 November 2005, Morelia, Mexico.
  • Gave a talk titled 'Assessing the ecological condition of NTFPs' at the 'National Consultation with Civil Society Organizations on NTFP Policy & Management' organized by the Centre for People's Forestry in Hyderabad on 15 and 16th September 2005.
  • Organised a symposium on Conservation and Livelihoods and gave a talk titled 'Reconciling Conservation and Livelihoods: an overview' at the Second Western Ghats Forum held in Coimbatore on the 2nd and 3rd December 2005.
  • Co-organized with Keystone Foundation and People and Plants International, a workshop on 'Community based ecological monitoring' in Auroville on 28th to 30th November 2005.
  • Organized a workshop on 'Reconciling conservation and livelihoods in practice', Bangalore, 15th to 17th December 2005.
  • Attended the National consultation on wildlife conservation, Future of Conservation, in New Delhi.
  • Panelist at a discussion meeting 'Biodiversity in India: Issues and Emerging Trends' hosted by Winrock, India and the British High Commission in New Delhi, December 2005.
  • Co-organised a symposium on Biodiversity and Livelihoods and presented a talk titled 'Evolving participatory forms of forest governance for conservation and livelihoods' at the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation Asia Chapter Meetings in Mamallapuram, March 6-8 2007.
  • Presented a paper titled 'Traditional use of fire by Soligas in Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary' at the National Workshop on Forest Fires by MoEF in New Delhi, November 2007.
  • Participated in a consultation organized by FAO on 'Establishing an Asia-Pacific Forest Policy Think Tank', 21 to 22 August 2007 in Manila, Philippines.
  • Gave a talk titled 'Constructing landscapes: Ecology, culture, and history of an Indian Forest' at Sustaining cultural and biological diversity in a rapidly changing world: lessons for global policy, April 2008, AMNH, New York.
  • Co-organised a one day CISED - ATREE workshop on the Recognition of Forest Rights Act in January 2008, Bangalore.
  • Co-organised an ATREE- Kalpavriksh-SAS-VGKK workshop on the Recognition of Forest Rights Act in BRT Wildlife Sanctuary, August 2007.
  • Member, Steering Group of the project on Civil Society Organisation Collaboration for Environmental Governance, World Wide Fund for Nature, India.
  • Member of the Project advisory group of MASS, Orissa, an NGO working on community forest management. Attended meetings in Puri (November 2007) and Bhubhaneswar (February 2008).
  • Member of the core group of the Future of Conservation, a network of Indian conservation and human rights groups committed to evolving new paradigms for conservation.

Awards and Fellowships

  • 1989 - 1991: Salim Ali Fellowship, Wildlife Institute of India.
  • 1991: Gold Medallist, Wildlife Biology, Wildlife Institute of India.
  • 1994 - 2002: Graduate Assistantship, Pennsylvania State University.
  • 1999: Research grant from Conservation, Food, and Health Foundation, USA.
  • 2001: Ben Hill Award for Plant Ecology Research, Pennsylvania State University.


English, Hindi, Kannada - Spoken and written.
Tulu, Tamil, Portuguese, Spanish - Spoken.


  • Rai, N. D. 2014. View from the podu: Views from the Podu Approaches for a Democratic Ecology of India’s Forests. In Lele, S. and Menon, A. Democratising Forest Governance. Pages 149-180. Oxford University Press. New Delhi.
  • Kavitha, A., S. C. J. Joseph, N. D. Rai and R. Abraham, 2013 Distinct Livelihood Patterns Among Communities: The Case of Kanakapura, Karnataka. In Purushothaman, S., R. Abraham (Eds.). Livelihood strategies in southern India: conservation and poverty reduction in forest fringes. Pages 33-48. Springer, India.
  • Rai, Nitin D., and Siddappa Setty. 2013. Just Harvest: Ecology and Politics of Forest Canopy Product Use in Protected Areas. In Treetops at Risk, ed. Margaret Lowman, Soubadra Devy, and T Ganesh, 395–399. Springer, New York.
  • Rai, N. D., and K. S. Bawa. 2013. Inserting Politics and History in Conservation. Conservation Biology 27(2): 425–428.
  • Rai, N. D. 2012. Green Grabbing in the Name of the Tiger. Economic & Political Weekly 47(42): 108–109.
  • Bawa, K. S., N. D. Rai and N. S. Sodhi 2011. Rights, Governance, and Conservation of Biological Diversity. Conservation Biology, 25(3): 639-641.
  • Lele, S., M. Pattanaik, et al. (2010). NTFPs in India: Rhetoric and reality. Wild Product Governance: Finding Policies that Work for Non-Timber Forest Products. S. A. Laird, R. McLain and R. P. Wynberg (Eds). London, Earthscan: pp.85-112.
  • Mandal, S., N.D. Rai and C.Madegowda. 2010. Culture, conservation and co-management: Mapping Soliga stake in biodiversity conservation in Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary, India. In Sacred Natural Sites: Conservation of Nature and Culture. Verschuuren, B., Wild, R. McNeely, J., and Oviedo, G. (eds.) Earthscan. London.
  • Lele, S. M. Pattnaik and N.D. Rai. 2009. NTFPs in India: Policies and Experiences In Wild Product GovernanceFinding Policies that Work for Non-Timber Forest Products. Eds. Sarah A. Laird, Rebecca McLain, and Rachel P. Wynberg. Earthscan, London.
  • Menon, A., C. Hinnewinkel, C. Garcia, S. Guillerme, N. Rai and S. Krishnan. 2009. Competing Visions: Domestic Forests, Politics and Forest Policy in the Central Western Ghats of South India. Small-scale Forestry 8: 515-527.
  • N.D. Rai, 2007 The ecology of Income: can we have both fruit and forest? In Making Conservation Work. Rangarajan, M. and Shahabuddin, G. Editors. Permanent Black, New Delhi.
  • Ruiz-Pérez, M., B. Belcher, R. Achdiawan, M. Alexiades, C. Aubertin, J. Caballero, B. Campbell, C. Clement, T. Cunningham, A. Fantini, H. de Foresta, C. García Fernández, K.H. Gautam, P. Hersch Martínez, W. de Jong, K. Kusters, M.G. Kutty, C. López, M. Fu, M.A. Martínez Alfaro, T.R. Nair, O. Ndoye, R. Ocampo, N. Rai, M. Ricker, K. Schreckenberg, S. Shackleton, P. Shanley, T. Sunderland, and Y. Youn. 2004. Markets drive the specialization strategies of forest peoples. Ecology and Society 9(2): 4. [online] URL:
  • Rai, N.D. and C. F. Uhl. 2004. Forest product use, conservation, and livelihoods: the case Of Uppage (Garcinia gummi-gutta) fruit harvest in the Western Ghats, India. Conservation and Society 2(2):289-313.
  • Rai, N.D. 2004. Uppage: A fruit for forest animals, savoury dishes and weight loss programmes. In Lopez, Citlalli and Shanley, Patricia. (eds) Riches of the forest: Fruits, spices, crafts and resins of Asia. Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor.
  • Rai, N. D. 2004. The socio-economic and ecological impact of Garcinia gummi-gutta fruit harvest in the Western Ghats, India. In Kusters, Koen and Belcher, Brian. (eds) A global comparison of Non Timber Forest Products, Volume 1: Asia. Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor.
  • Pandey, S., Joshua, J., Rai, N. D., Mohan, D., Rawat, G.S., Sankar, K., Katti, M. V., Khatti, D. V. S., and Johnsingh, A. J. T. 1995. Birds of Rajaji National Park. Forktail.
  • Rai, N. D. and A. Kumar. 1993. A pilot study on the conservation of the Malabar civet Viverra civettina (BLYTH 1862). Small Carnivore Conservation. No. 9. IUCN SSC.
  • Mohan, D., N. D. Rai, and A. P. Singh. 1992. Longtailed or Old Squaw Duck Clangula Hyemalis (LINN) in Dehra Dun, Uttar Pradesh. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 89(2):247.