CEDAR is a not-for-profit organization registered in 2006 under the Societies Act of 1860. The registered office of CEDAR is located in Delhi while the main operations office is based in Dehradun. CEDAR was established when a group of academics and development practitioners came together to bridge the gap between applied research and field based interventions or, to put it differently, ‘balance theory and practice’. The development sector has, for long, been caught in the divide between theoreticians and practitioners. This divide has set the sector back and deprived it of the opportunity to continuously assess and improve its work. This has also had implications for policy formulation whereby the lack of a right blend of lessons from the field, properly documented and analyzed, has led to information gap in policy formulation. CEDAR sees its role to straddle this divide and help fill the information gap in policy formulation.

The research activities of CEDAR essentially focus on generating, monitoring and interpreting socio-ecological field-data that can improve the management of natural resources. Central to CEDAR’s ideology is the recognition that local communities must participate in conservation. Therefore, in addition to building core research competence in forestry, ecology and social sciences, the organization works towards strengthening links between communities and ecosystems by networking with grass-root organizations.

Website: http://www.cedarhimalaya.org

Possible volunteering opportunities

Students can volunteer in a wide array of research issues in the Westren Himalayan region. Research themes include:

  • Forest Ecology
  • Climate Change Adaptation
  • Urbanisation
  • Changing traditions and cultural practices in Himalaya
  • Outmigration
Creative projects which may be of interest include:

1. Himalayan Adaptation, Water and Resilience (HI-AWARE) Research on Glacier and Snowpack Dependent River Basins for Improving Livelihoods- Focus on Upper Gangetic Basin.

This is a collaborative project between The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and Centre for Ecology Development and Research (CEDAR) HI-AWARE is a 5 year research initiative aiming at developing climate change adaptation approaches and increasing the resilience of the poorest and most vulnerable women, men, and children in the mountains and plains of the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region. The HI-AWARE consortium is conducting integrative research across scales on the biophysical, socioeconomic, gender, and governance drivers and conditions leading to vulnerability in order to understand climate change impacts and to identify critical moments for adaptation. It will focus on the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra river basins, where the impacts of climate change on the livelihoods of the poor are uncertain but likely to be severe. Adaptation policies and practices, based on robust evidence, are urgently required in these basins to increase the resilience of the poorest and most vulnerable populations and improve their livelihoods in a quickly changing climate. CEDAR in partnership with ICIMOD is focusing on the Upper Gangetic basin in the Uttarakhand Himalaya to understand the above issues.

Under the project CEDAR encourages students interested in Impacts and understanding of adaptive capacity of rural populations living in the Upper Gangetic Basin.

Specific studies could be undertaken on the following issues:

  • Climate Induced human migration
  • Spring Hydrogeology
  • Gender Vulnerability assessments
  • Man Animal conflict
  • Life along the river - through pictorial evidence

2. Himalayan Urban Water Research Program

TUrban Water research has been one of our flagship programs and widely acknowledged, in the urban confines we are working in 7 towns in the Himalayan region in collaboration with University of Cambridge and South Asia Institute of Advanced Studies (SIAS) through funding received by IDRC and ESPA. Our focus to understand the combined effect of urbanisation and changes in weather patterns on “Critical water zones” (recharge zones) upon which these towns depend upon for meeting their ever increasing water demand. The program aims to study the ways in which small towns in hill and mountain regions depend on springs, streams and rivers in their surrounding catchments for the supply of water. Current infrastructure planning processes for water supply tend to focus at the two ends of the spectrum - on the needs of large urban settlements, and of rural areas. The needs of small towns are often overlooked or neglected. Small towns (defined as those with populations below 25,000 people) are particularly important in hill and mountain regions of India because they are at present growing very rapidly, with little planning for infrastructure needs and in particular water supply. Across the region, almost half the urban population in the Indian Himalaya live in small towns. These towns also tend to be relatively resource poor, lacking the revenue and resources available of larger settlements. The program intends to work in a selected set of small towns In Himalaya. It will undertake an assessment of the hydrological dependence of these small towns on water flows from the surrounding landscape, and identify areas that are critical to securing these water flows ('critical water zones'). We study existing patterns of resource and land use in these critical water zones, and the range of ecosystem services that flow from these areas to meet the needs of local and non-local stakeholders. This will allow an understanding of the synergies and trade-offs associated with managing these areas to secure water supply for the towns, in relation to their potential use for other livelihood and resource use strategies.

Specific studies under the program could be:

  • Analysis of Institutions and Governance structures in Urban development
  • Climate Vulnerability Assessment of selected towns
  • Feasibility assessment of Public Private Partnership in developing climate adaptive practices in Urban areas
  • Critical Assessment of Smart Cities Project
  • Assessment of State Water Policy and State Action Plan for Climate Change

3. Long term monitoring of biomass stocks and forest community structures in temperate zone of Western Himalaya

Biomass and carbon sequestration are central to the controversy among scientists dealing with the importance of terrestrial ecosystems in mitigating global warming. There is a growing demand for accurate estimations of biomass stocks and carbon sequestration rates. Researchers know that it is difficult to accurately measure the carbon sequestration rate of even a small area due to labor intensive measurements and accurate and long term monitoring. The study aims to provide more accurate data on biomass and carbon sequestration rates, while developing a method to rapidly access the same using LAI in cool temperate zone of western Himalayan region and its response to climate change. The project also aims to understand the shift in altitudinal belt of important tree species due to changes in climatic regimes and future composition of the forests. Rapid changes in climatic zones due to altitude make the process of study of a shift in ecological zones much less dependent on stochastic factors. Concurrently, permanent plots have largely not been established for the central Himalaya. Early plots established by the forest department to look into growth rates have been casually monitored and difficult to geographically locate, this study aims to establish permanent plots with high accuracy and precision so that it can be used by future researchers as well for accurate measurements in future. The study is being conducted along two transects in the cool temperate region between 1600 –2400 m in Garhwal and Kumaun Himalayas. 20 permanent plots are to be placed for the study at intervals of 100m rise in altitude. Total 320 permanent plots would be set up along the altitudinal gradients. Regional as well as internationally accepted equations would be used to calculate the biomass of the tree species. Standard and widely accepted methods and protocols are proposed to study soil parameters and estimate soil carbon and nutrient levels at different altitudes and in different forest type.

4. Collaboration with Woodstock School

Cedar has ties with Woodstock School (a boarding school) above Dehra Dun in the hill station of Mussoorie. Collaborative projects include (a) long term monitoring of the forest with an aim to understand the structure and function of pure oak dominated stands in the Western Himalayas, including ecosystem service assessments and forest ecology; (b) documentation of the current situation in the management of water within particular communities in Mussoorie, supporting the work of the Mussoorie Water Forum; (c) Women’s Empowerment Project, specifically to help in the teaching of basic English to women from low income families.

Preferred Skills

Open to undergraduates or any graduate students with both social sciences and physical sciences backgrounds interested in pure and interdisciplinary research in the Himalayan region. Students having skills in photography and video documentary, creative writing, network development or interest in historical, cultural and social issues such as changes in traditional food habits, customs etc are also encouraged to apply.

Through the above mentioned projects CEDAR has been able to gather useful information; however our outreach activity in terms of developing knowledge products for public awareness remains weak. We would be keen to take students who have ability to develop popular articles, work on developing brochures and info graphics and videos which could be put in social media platforms. Students interested in developing documentaries on above subjects are also preferred. CEDAR would provide all information pertaining to the same.

The research ideas mentioned with projects above are broad, new ideas proposed by interns would be encouraged keeping in mind the mandate, logistics and expertise available within the organisation.

Students will be encouraged to spend a good part of their time in the field, specific projects and learning about the ecosystems where they are working. Work will be supervised by Dr. Vishal Singh Coordinator of CEDAR (Dr. Vishal Singh) Dr. Rajesh Thadani and other reserachers from the organisation.

Approximate cost

You should expect to spend about £900 for eight weeks - this covers costs for food and accommodation, as well as local travel. There are no programme fees payable to Camvol.

In addition to these local costs, volunteers will need to book return flights to India (typically about £550 if booked early), and apply for an entry visa, as required by the Indian High Commission (for visa charges, please check the Indian visa facilitation service website for exact fees).

Vaccination and other medical costs have NOT been included in estimated costs, and applicants should take this into account while planning their budgets. If you intend to travel for recreation and tourism, these costs will be additional, so please budget accordingly.

Financial support is available, including Camvol-CMEDT Commonwealth Travelling Scholarships; support from Colleges; and from the University. If selected, the Camvol Director can advise about funding opportunities.