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Sacred groves in the Western Ghats are culturally preserved patches of forests that are rich in diversity owing to protection by several generations of local people, providing excellent examples of community based conservation.Â Sacred groves harbour local populations, preserve genetic resources and serve as reference sites and corridors between protected areas.Â They are considered to be cornerstones of biodiversity conservation, but are insufficient in scale and number to significantly address many aspects of the management of landscapes and biodiversity.Â We studied 13 sacred groves in Pune District that are at present outside the protected areas of the northern Western Ghats, where we employed a simple and rapid biodiversity assessment technique that can be replicated by frontline foresters, local residents and Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs).Â Integrating these sacred sites into the conservation network through local support can improve the efficiency for the existing protected area network in this ecologically fragile region.
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