, Volume 6, Issue 6, pp 853-868

Effectiveness of the protected area network in biodiversity conservation: a case-study of Meghalaya state

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The North-Eastern region of India is significant for biodiversity conservation because of its floristic richness and high levels of endemism. Deforestation levels are high in the region due to anthropogenic pressures. We accessed various literature sources to create a database for Meghalaya state containing information on plant species, habit, altitudinal distribution, endemism, and endangered status. Information on the existing protected area network (type, extent, and altitudinal representation) was added to the database. The database was used to assess the effectiveness of the existing protected area network in conserving the floristic biodiversity of the state. Of a total of 3331 plant species, 1236 (37.11%) are endemic of Meghalaya and 133 (4%) are confined to 'sacred forests'. However, 'sacred forests' are not legally protected areas. Only 32 220 ha (1.43% of the state's geographical area) is protected under the category of National Park or Sanctuary. Although 212 species (17.15% of the state's endemic species) occur only in Meghalaya at altitudes above 1500 m, none of the forests at these altitudes are protected as National Parks or Sanctuaries. We conclude that the existing protected area network does not effectively conserve the state's unique biodiversity and suggest measures by which its effectiveness might be increased.

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.