According to data from, an agency that monitors changes to protected areas worldwide, India’s protected areas are rapidly “being downgraded, downsized or even degazetted (relinquished of their protected status entirely) in a phenomenon termed PADDD.” While protected areas in India have faced conservation challenges in the past, the weakening government recognition of protected areas is a new problem. This trend is particularly concerning given that India already retains a lower percentage of forested area compared to many other countries (15.5% versus 19.8% in China, 31.6% in the U.S.) with only approximately one-third of that land being primary forest. The data show 510 instances of PADDD across India’s protected areas; 95% of these were cases of downgrading, in which the extent of human activity in the reserve increased. 98% of the PADDD events recorded in India, since recording began in 1900, have occurred in the last decade. This is reflective of a global trend of weakening recognition of protected areas. For the full story, see: