ATREE USA is the U.S.-based partner organization of Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology & the Environment (ATREE), headquartered in Bangalore, India. ATREE USA (Tax ID #04-3311745) works to promote the programs and projects rooted in ATREE's approach and philosophy, and to create connections among organizations around the world to further its mission.
Our goals are to:
1. Partner with ATREE in India, and other organizations throughout the world, to foster a sustainable and socially-just future.
2. Foster collaboration among U.S-based organizations and institutions in the Global South in the field of Sustainability Science.
ATREE was established in 1996 with the mission to foster environmental conservation and socially-just development to achieve the following: 1. conserve the environment and promote sustainable development; 2. improve the institutional and policy framework for addressing environmental challenges; and 3. strengthen the capacity of government, the private sector, and civil society to utilize the best knowledge and data to solve pressing environmental problems.
ATREE has strengthened India's capacity to confront its most urgent environmental and development issues in areas such as biodiversity, water quality, climate change, sustainable livelihoods, and human wellbeing.
ATREE's innovative institutional model -- combining interdisciplinary knowledge, policy and research analysis, work at the grassroots level, and development of new leaders in conservation and sustainability -- has gained national and international recognition. It is ranked among the world's top 20 environmental think tanks by the University of Pennsylvania's Think Tanks and Civil Society program; received the UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Conservation in 2019; and the Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Conservation Biology (Asia Section) in 2016.
ATREE is a "three in one" institution -- a research organization that generates knowledge leading to action, an academy that produces future environmental leaders, and a grassroots organization that works directly with local communities. Having these three elements under one roof allows ATREE to identify and understand the problems, develop replicable models for action, implement solutions, provide policy guidelines, and conduct community outreach.
ATREE's research centres have contributed knowledge and policy recommendations to address such wide-ranging issues as land rights, water management, spread of zoonotic disease, forest governance, wetland conservation, protection of migratory birds, pastoralist livelihoods, grassland conservation, sustainable urban development, land restoration, and climate smart agriculture. In addition, they have identified scores of new species from various parts of India. The current centres are: SM Sehgal Foundation Centre for Biodiversity & Conservation; Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies Centre for Environment & Development; Centre for Policy Design; and Centre for Social & Environmental Innovation.
ATREE's Academy offers PhD and Masters programs (in collaboration with Manipal Academy of Higher Education and TDU respectively) that integrate natural and social sciences to address environmental and societal concerns. Currently, the Academy has 49 PhD students carrying out research in diverse areas ranging from restoration of freshwater ecosystems to dynamics of forest ecology; from developing a knowledge commons platform for invasive species to water pollution in urbanized watersheds; and from the Forest Rights Act to climate change impacts on ecosystems. The recently created Masters program currently has 45 students. To date, as many as 35 PhD students have graduated and gone on to work at various national and international institutions.
ATREE's five Community Conservation Centres (CCCs), situated in some of the most biodiversity-rich and unique habitats in India, work with local communities to: a) sustainably use and enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services in large multifunctional landscapes to mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss; b) diversify livelihoods and develop climate-smart agriculture; c) build local stewardship for conserving and restoring natural assets; d) engage children and teachers in environmental education; and e) transform institutions and policies for large scale change. The CCCs support long-term ecological monitoring; research by doctoral students and interns; collaboration with communities on conservation and sustainable livelihoods; and interactions with local governance institutions. In recent years, this work has impacted 6,265 square kilometers of multifunctional landscapes; 514,300 farmers; 537,700 students; and 9,500 teachers.
ATREE initiated AREST to support India's pledge to restore 13 million hectares of land by 2030 through the Green India Mission, with a sequestration target of 2.5-3 billion tons of CO2 through the Paris climate agreement. AREST proposes to meet these commitments by restoring degraded lands through conservation, agroforestry, and reforestation; enhancing rural livelihoods, food security, and ecosystem services; and improving policies and governance for managing commons, and other public and private land. The AREST approach brings together scientific rigor and grassroots engagement to achieve its goals.
ATREE's work has already had a wide-ranging impact. Its efforts empowered the Solinga tribe to claim land rights under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), and helped the government of India to design a road map for post-FRA forest governance. ATREE prepared the successful nomination to designate the Western Ghats as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the lead organization in the National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Well-being, a framework to utilize science to link biodiversity preservation to a wide range of health and nutrition, agricultural, economic, development, and environmental programs. ATREE is supporting the Karnataka government and Bangalore City in sustainable water management and lake restoration. Its scientists and researchers have published over 500 peer-reviewed articles, 18 books, and 120 popular articles; while its 12-year old journal -- Conservation & Society -- has the highest impact factor of any Indian environmental journal.