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Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems (CEMDE)





The Centre and its goals

The Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems (CEMDE) was established by the Board of Interdisciplinary Programme of the University of Delhi in 1990.

The goals of the Centre are:

(i) To understand ecological drivers and evolutionary processes influencing anthropogenic redistribution of biota with emphasis on exotic invasions

(ii) To study how plant chemicals form the basis of understanding the competitive dominance of weeds at various levels of ecological organization and how do ecological processes, climatic and abiotic and biotic soil factors influence it.

(iii) Action Research for finding solutions to contemporary environmental and ecological challenges at local, subnational, and national levels.

(iv) Capacity building in action research.

Professor Inderjit Singh
Director

Contact: 011-27667689

Email: Inderjit@cemde.du.ac.in

Prof. Inderjit is plant ecologist. The goals of Prof. Inderjit’s research is to understand ecological and evolutionary processes through which: 1) naturalized and/or nonnative plants, achieve ecological success and influence native biodiversity, and 2) native plants continue to thrive in a changing global environment. As a result of his work in plant ecology, and his wide range on international collaborations, Prof. Inderjit has published numerous influential articles in leading journals including PNAS, Nature, Journal of Ecology, Ecology, Ecology Letters, Oikos, Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Global Ecology & Biogeography, Plant Physiology, Trends in Plant Science, Biological Invasions, Soil Biology & Biochemistry, American Journal of Botany and others. Inderjit has edited seven books, and serve as an Associate Editor of several journals including Journal of Applied Ecology, Biological Invasion, Scientific Reports, AoB Plants and NeoBiota.

The CEMDE has been working on biological invasions, ecological restoration of degraded landscapes and Biodiversity Conservation.

Biological Invasions

CEMDE has been active in the area of biological invasions. Prof. Inderjit established roles of biogeographic and evolutionary approaches to study biological invasions. Contributed to the understanding of mechanisms through which naturalized and/or nonnative plants achieve their competitive or general ecological success. Also unraveled mechanisms to understand the ecological drivers and evolutionary processes influencing anthropogenic redistribution of biota. Discovered in-depth/novel mechanisms for invasion: (i) reallocation of nitrogen from cell wall to photosynthesis (growth) resulting in the increased competitive ability in an invasive species, (ii) enhanced accumulation of native soil pathogens, (iii) biogeographic variations in chemicals that are novel in invaded communities, (iv) impact of nitrogen availability on biomass accumulation and range expansion of exotic invader and (v) conditional allelopathy of tropical invader.  


Chemical ecology


CEMDE has contributed to allelopathy research (Plant-plant chemical interactions). Prof. Inderjit is one of the pioneers in the allelopathy research. He and his students have made significant contributions: (i) designed novel bioassay for allelopathy, (ii) unraveled the importance of ecological functions in allelopathy (iii) elucidated the role of plant chemicals in weed competitive success (iv) studied ecophysiological mechanisms of action of Allelochemicals (v) worked on the interference success of cropland and forest weeds

Restoration Ecology

CEMDE is a pioneering R&D organisation and has been contributing to the ecological restoration of mined out areas to the natural state of forest ecosystems for nearly three decades. The restoration technologies developed by the Centre have been widely adopted by the stakeholders for the management of mined out areas.These restored ecosystems have been generating ecological services and goods leading to sustainable development.
Based on the success stories in the ecological restoration of mined out areas, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) recognized the CEMDE as the Centre of Excellence, and a separate programme, centre of excellence programme, has been approved.

Management of invasive alien species

As a part of the Centre of Excellence programme of MoEF&CC, the Centre has been working on the management of Lantana camara – an invasive alien species that is threatening native Biodiversity in forest ecosystems. The Centre has developed a simple, innovative and cost effective method known as “Cut rootstock method” for removal of Lantana. This method is widely used for the management of Lantana in forest ecosystems by the State Forest departments across the Country. A new management strategy has also been developed and implemented for managing Lantana invasion in Corbett Tiger Reserve. The new management strategy involves: (i) removal of Lantana by “cut rootstock method”; and (ii) restoration of weed free landscapes to grasslands. The restored grasslands harbour rich wildlife and enhanced the frequency of tiger sighting.

Development and Management of Biodiversity Parks

During the last 15 years, the CEMDE in joint collaboration with Delhi Development Authority(DDA) – a city building local Government Agency established by an Act of Parliament- has been developing a network of 6 Biodiversity Parks across the Capital City. This programme is fully funded by DDA which owns the parks. A team of scientists, technical staff and multitasking staff with Professor C.R. Babu as the project in-charge have been contributing to the development and management of Biodiversity Parks –Yamuna, Aravalli, Neela Hauz, Tilpath Valley, Northern Ridge and Tughlakabad Biodiversity Parks.
The concept of Biodiversity Park was first developed by the Centre as a conservation model for bringing back the lost natural heritage in the development matrix of the city. The Biodiversity Parks have wide range of functions such as : (i) serve as a source of environmental microbiome for enrichment of human microbiome that will reduce health risks and public health burden; (ii) serve as a filter for point and nonpoint sources of pollution; (iii) recharge ground water; (iv) store flood water; (v) impart climate resilience to the city; (vi) buffer local weather; (vii) preserve vanishing gene pools of plants, animals and microbes; and (viii) serve as hub for promoting environmental and nature education among students and public.Out of the DDA 6 Biodiversity Parks, 4 DDA Biodiversity Parks have already been dedicated to the Nation and 2 of them (Yamuna and Aravalli Biodiversity Park) already have become Nature Reserves of Delhi.

Yamuna Biodiversity Park

The Yamuna Biodiversity Park spreads over an area of 185hectares in the upstream of wazirabad and has a wide range of landscape elements. A total of 2000 species of plants and animals live together in 30 biological communities. The Yamuna Biodiversity Park has biologically rich wetlands that attract 1000s of migratory birds during the winter season.The common mammals sighted are Barking Deer, Indian Porcupine, Small Indian Civet, Indian hare, wild boar and others;recently a leopard was also arrived at the Park.

Aravalli Biodiversity Park

Aravalli Biodiversity Park spreads over an area of 280hectares at Vasant Vihar- Vasant Kunj- Mahipalpur of South Delhi. It has about 2500 species of plants and animals living in about 35 biological communities. The avifauna is represented by some 250 species. Blue bulls, Jackals, porcupine and Indian hare are common mammals in the Park.

Neela Hauz Biodiversity Park

The Neela Hauz Biodiversity Parks spreads over an area of 4.5 hectares at Sanjay Van-JNU. The dead Neela Hauz lake has been restored to its original state. The sewage water that feeds lake has been made into clean water using constructed wetland system.Six biological communities having some 300 species of plants/animals are being developed.

Tilpath Valley Biodiversity Park

Tilpath Valley Biodiversity Park spreads over an area of 80 hectares at Sainik farms- IGNOU- Asola-Bhatti–Wildlife Sanctuary. It is the most scenic place in the entire Delhi and is the major recharging zone for ground water. The Tilpath Valley has as many as 25 biological communities and is the ideal habitat for top carnivores. The locals sighted leopards in the area.

The Northern Ridge and Tughlakabad Biodiversity Parks are being developed.

Environmental and Nature Conservation Education at Biodiversity Parks

For promoting environmental and nature conservation education among students and public, a number of conservatories have been developed at Yamuna and Aravalli Biodiversity Parks. A Butterfly Conservatory with some 200 host plant species and 110 butterfly species, a Herbal Garden with 200 species of medicinal plants, an Orchidarium and Fernarium have been developed at Aravalli Biodiversity Park. Similarly, a Butterfly Conservatory with 150 species of host plants and 70 butterfly species, a Herbal Garden of 150 species, a climber groove and a Fruit yielding plant conservatory have been established at Yamuna Biodiversity Park. Both the Parks playing a critical role in imparting  environmental education among 1000s of students of Schools, Colleges, Universities, and Nature Conservation education among the public. Professionals also visit the Park as part of their training to learn about Biodiversity. The Parks have attracted the global attention to serve as model for Conservation of Natural Heritage for replication elsewhere in the world.


For visit and further details on Biodiversity Parks, please contact:

Director:                           Prof. Inderjit Singh

Professor Emeritus:          Professor C.R. Babu



Professor C.R. Babu (E-mail: crb26@hotmail.com, crbabu26@gmail.com, mobile phone no. 9810586709) is a Professor Emeritus at the Centre. He is the Project in charge of Biodiversity Parks Programme of DDA and Project Director of the Centre of Excellence Programme of MoEF&CC. He was the former Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Delhi. He has been working in the area of systematics, ecology, environment, biodiversity and conservation for more than 3 decades. About 45 students secured their Ph.Ds under his guidance. He and his students published more than 161 papers in national and international journals. He is fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences (Bangaluru).

Four technical personnel– (i) Mr. Sunil Kumar Sharma (ii) Mr.Sher Singh (iii) Mr.Tarlok Chand and (iv) Mr. Mahesh Prasad work at the CEMDE, University of Delhi.

The staff recruited for andworking at DDA Biodiversity Parks include scientists (ecologists, wildlife biologist and field biologist) and technical staff (supervisors, nature education officers and technical assistants), supporting staff (drivers and field Supervisors) and multitasking staff. 

Presently the following scientists are working at DDA Biodiversity Parks:

Dr.Faiyaz A. Khudsar, Dr. M. Shah Hussain, Dr.Ekta Khurana, Dr. A.K. Singh, Dr. Aisha Sultana, Mr. M. Faisal, Dr.Debanik Mukherjee, Dr. R. Jayakumar, Dr. Dinesh Albertson W and Dr.Vivek Kr. Choudhary