Kodagu Model Forest, located in the Western Ghats region of Karnataka state, Southern India, is classified as a “hotspot” of biodiversity conservation (a “hotspot” is defined by Conservation International as one of the richest and most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life on earth). In order to encourage biodiversity conservation, the Model Forest is examining the provision of incentives to farmers through benefits coming under various certification schemes.
In developing countries, tools such as geographical indication (GI), eco-certification, and fair trade labels are among the most frequently applied labelling or certification schemes. Based on the idea of intercropping Coorg mandarins with coffee plantations, the aim of the Biodivalloc project is to determine the conditions of use under which GI tools can lead to increased value of biological and cultural diversity as a means to tackle both conservation and development issues, and to strengthen the links between local populations and the biodiversity surrounding them.
Kodagu Model Forest undertook the baseline studies related to the use of GI in their territory. Because this is an international study, the Model Forest is also the liaison with other study sites in Africa and South America. Preliminary results show an increased awareness among farmers and consumers of the origins of the products they are purchasing or growing with respect to origin, and a movement to protect local varieties. There is also an increased interest in payments for ecological goods and services along with certification and other labelling schemes.