The University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked all universities and institutions to encourage research on ecology.

This was one of the recommendations of the National Forest Commission (NFC), headed by Justice B.N. Kripal, former Chief Justice of India which had submitted its report to the Prime Minister. The report contained 360 recommendations, including promoting research on ecology.

“Forest departments and the Government of India should encourage universities and organisations to take up research proactively particularly applied research: the topics/areas for required baseline data collections and research should be identified, researchers are supported, and the findings of applied research in the working/management plans be incorporated,’’ the Justice Kirpal report said.

One of the subjects to be research, as suggested in Chapter 13 of the report is the documentation of ecological relations of species with their environments. Under this, ecological keystone species in major forest types should be identified, optional and truly obligate physiological or behavioural relationship among species should be identified and studies and key agents in biogeochemical cycles and energy flow chains, it said.

The report also said that genetic markers for identification of strains of important tree species for forestry and utilitarian purposes should be developed and soil process in forest ecosystems, particularly above-ground and below-ground interactions should be studies and indicators of soil quality identified.

“Carbon sequestration of degraded forests using forestry practices should be improved, and carbon sequestration by major forest types be evaluated,’’ Justice Kirpal had said in his report while calling for considering studies on tree species for urban forest, biodiversity database for major forest types and effect of changes in ecosystem structures and linkage of ecosystem services to human well-being.

Suggesting that the Indian Council of Forest Research and Education should assess the local research needs of States, the report had recommended developing a robust analytical framework and methodological foundations for valuation of ecosystem services and their delivery across social groups.