FERAL: Foundation for Ecological Research, Advocacy and Learning

Foundation for Ecological Research, Advocacy and Learning

Assessing the socio-ecological impacts of small hydropower projects in the Western Ghats, India


Various national and international policies are supporting the growth of small hydro-power project as it is assumed that small dams have minimal or no environmental impacts. However, recent studies are questioning this assumption. We aim to gather and assess the broad impacts of extensive small dam development within the Western Ghats – a global biodiversity hotspot that has one of the largest densities of small dams in India. We also aim to highlight this information through the creation of a compelling documentary film that can aid in bringing about meaningful policy-level changes regarding small dam development in India.

  1. Exploring the relationship between SHPs and human-animal conflict – We aim to explore the relationship, if any, between SHP proliferation in elephant habitat and human-elephant conflict by collecting primary and secondary data across elephant landscapes in the Western Ghats.
  2. Landscape-level modelling of SHP impacts– We aim to create a visual database of existing and planned SHPs falling within the Western Ghats of Karnataka. Forest fragmentation and river agmentation indices will be calculated to provide a holistic perspective of SHP development at the landscape scale.
  3. Outreach to stakeholders–Information pertaining to SHP development in India will be condensed into a documentary film. This will enable scientific knowledge to reach stakeholders in an easy-to-understand medium, thereby bridging the gap between researchers and policy makers.


Project Information


Suman Jumani
Principal Investigator

Project Information

Budget: £ 5,000
Project Area: Western Ghats

Duration: May, 2016 to April, 2017

Funding Agencies

Ruffords Small Grant Foundation

Project Images

A view of the penstock pipe diverting river flows from the weir to the powerhouse. These structures can drastically impede the movement of wild animals such as elephants.Arial view of a small hydropower project in the Western Ghats of KarnatakaAerial view of a river upstream of a small hydropower project in the Western Ghats of Karnataka.View of the dewatered stretch of the same river below the weir of a small hydropower project in the Western Ghats of Karnataka.
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