Shillim > Studies

In early 2023, anthropologists conducted a study to reveal the social structures, economic activities, and cultural traditions within the Greater Shillim Landscape. Researchers meticulously explored livelihood patterns, social hierarchies, traditional wisdom, and cultural practices such as art, music, dance, festivals, and ritual through participant observation and interviews.  The study aimed to develop a deeper understanding of the unique expressions and complexities of these communities, with a vision to formulate inclusive and sustainable strategies that honor and elevate their cultural heritage.

The study revealed a rich historical narrative, with traces of ancient civilizations still apparent through archaeological discoveries and artifacts. This historically significant region, linked with Shivaji’s kingdom in the Maval region, proudly showcases 12th-century forts like Tung, Tikona, and Visapur, nestled near Shillim. Preserving these sites through heritage walks and the promotion of local heritage sites is critical to safeguarding historical legacy of these landscapes.

Within this diverse landscape, tribal and non-tribal communities coexist harmoniously, each with unique cultures and traditions apparent in their songs, dances, culinary delights, festivals, and rituals. Local customs, including the art of tattoos symbolizing devotion to deities, expressions of familial bonds through song and dance, and traditional festivals and rituals are deeply rooted in these communities.

The study underscored the pivotal role of folk songs and dances in the preservation of cultural heritage. For instance, the melodic verses of “Jatyawarchya Ovya” sung by women in Shillim serve as a poignant reflection of historical narratives and societal nuances, addressing themes ranging from love to caste discrimination. 

Folk dances, particularly those cherished by the Kathkari community, are a vital means of cultural expression. From the lively rhythms of the Haldi Dance, performed during wedding ceremonies accompanied by the beats of the Dholaki, to the exclusive Dussehra Dance, showcasing Kathkari women’s daily life through specific songs, each dance form is a blend of tradition and innovation. These vibrant expressions not only transmit history, traditions, and values but also serve as mirrors reflecting the dynamic shifts within society and culture, portrayed through evolving performance styles, vibrant costumes, and musical accompaniments.

The Oikos study conducted in the Greater Shillim Landscape from 2023 to 2024 was directed at thoroughly exploring the ecological characteristics of the region, including biogeography, land classification, biodiversity, and natural habitats, with an emphasis on understanding their intricate relationships.

One of the key focuses of the study was to examine the connections among different species and assess the impact of environmental factors on the ecosystem. The study also aimed to assess the overall ecological health of the landscape to provide valuable insights for conservation initiatives and advocate for sustainable management practices that would preserve both natural resources and cultural heritage.

The landscape predominantly featured open areas characterized by grasslands or scrublands, with some regions featuring dense dwarf canopies. However, patches with tall canopies or nearing maturity were relatively scarce. The study identified various anthropogenic risks, including unplanned development and construction debris, which posed threats to the health of the riparian zones. Moreover, soil extraction activities from the mountains were observed to weaken the mountain base, further exacerbating environmental concerns.

Despite these challenges, the study also highlighted opportunities for ecological restoration and conservation. For instance, there was considerable fallow land available that could be used to enhance ecosystem health. Efforts to promote a mix of native forest species alongside productive species were underway to boost biodiversity. Key ecological, physical, and cultural features such as sacred groves and rare species like Karmal and Dillenia pentagyna near Chavsar Village were being safeguarded as part of conservation efforts.

In May 2023, researchers initiated a comprehensive carbon sequestration study in the Greater Shillim Landscape to evaluate its capacity for carbon capture and storage. Focusing on various habitat types, the study quantified both tree and soil carbon per hectare, aiming to inform conservation and climate change mitigation strategies. 

Habitat Analysis:

Dwarf Canopy:

Area: 342.3 hectares

Tree Carbon per hectare: 50.7 tons

Total Tree Carbon for Habitat: 17,355.2 tons

Soil Carbon per hectare: 127.4 tons

Total Soil Carbon for Habitat: 43,631 tons

Sparse Shrubbery:

Area: 96.3 hectares

Tree Carbon per hectare: 50.1 tons

Total Tree Carbon for Habitat: 4,824.2 tons

Soil Carbon per hectare: 71.4 tons

Total Soil Carbon for Habitat: 6,881 tons


Area: 62.2 hectares

Tree Carbon per hectare: 22 tons

Total Tree Carbon for Habitat: 1,369.9 tons

Soil Carbon per hectare: 143.8 tons

Total Soil Carbon for Habitat: 8,944 tons

Tall Canopy Forest:

Area: 12.1 hectares

Tree Carbon per hectare: 68.4 tons

Total Tree Carbon for Habitat: 823.7 tons

Soil Carbon per hectare: 153 tons

Total Soil Carbon for Habitat: 1,845 tons

Shrubbery (Tree):

Area: 92.2 hectares

Tree Carbon per hectare: 46.9 tons

Total Tree Carbon for Habitat: 4,317.3 tons

Soil Carbon per hectare: 124.3 tons

Total Soil Carbon for Habitat: 11,458 tons

Total Carbon Sequestration:

Total Area: 605.11 hectares

Average Tree Carbon per hectare: 48.96 tons

Total Tree Carbon Sequestered: 29,626 tons

Average Soil Carbon per hectare: 125 tons

Total Soil Carbon Sequestered: 75,709 tons

The study revealed significant findings regarding carbon sequestration in the area. Total carbon sequestered across all habitats amounts to 1,05,335.25 tons, highlighting the critical role of different ecosystems in capturing and storing carbon. These findings underscore the importance of conservation efforts for climate change mitigation and biodiversity preservation. The implications of the study are noteworthy; the sequestered carbon is equivalent to emissions caused by 4.5 crore liters of petrol, or 1360 cars running on roads for 15 years. Such insights emphasize the urgent need for preserving ecosystems to combat climate change and conserve biodiversity.

In August 2023, researchers conducted a Socio-Economic Survey analysis study to understand the dynamics of the communities in the Greater Shillim Landscape, including key aspects such as land ownership, employment patterns, cultural values, and migration trends. The research team sought to identify challenges and opportunities for community development; the findings provide valuable insights for crafting interventions that promote community well-being and sustainable development.

Land Holding and Employment:

The average land ownership per household was found to be 4-5 acres, indicating a predominantly agrarian economy. However, limited employment opportunities, primarily in seasonal farm labor, pose economic challenges for the community.

Attachment and Trust Issues:

Residents exhibit a strong attachment to their villages, driven by comfort, cultural values, and familial ties. However, there is a prevailing sense of mistrust towards tourists due to reported incidents that have affected community perceptions.

Education and Healthcare Challenges:

Local schools are marked by poor quality, prompting families to seek better education opportunities elsewhere. Additionally, limited healthcare facilities require residents to travel outside the region for medical services.

Migration and Cultural Connection:

Out-migration is fueled by factors such as lack of education, healthcare, and year-round employment opportunities. Despite leaving their villages, individuals maintain strong cultural and religious ties, underscoring their enduring connection to the community.

Trust Building for Conservation:

Building trust is identified as crucial for engaging communities in conservation efforts. Cultural and familial bonds serve as the foundation for fostering trust and garnering support for conservation initiatives.

These findings highlight the complex interplay between psychological factors, social dynamics, and environmental contexts. Understanding these relationships is essential for developing interventions that promote community well-being and facilitate positive social change.