After a few years of sporadic relationship with the sanctuaries and various issues faced by it a 6-month exploratory phase was carried out by Kalpavriksh between June 2007-November 2007 to deepen our understanding of the sanctuary.

More frequent visits to the sanctuary, extensive review of the huge amount of secondary literature available on the sanctuary, and interactions and discussions with individuals and organizations working in the area in various fields and above all the local inhabitants helped us understand the local situation better. The objective of the exploratory phase was to assess the role that Kalpavriksh could play in moving towards a more participatory conservation practice in Bhimashankar in order to move away from the current state of conflict between the PA authorities and local people.

The exploratory phase revealed the need for possible interventions in the following areas:

1). True local empowerment  and creation of local institutions for making informed decisions, 2) Reducing the conflicts between the local people and objectives of the wildlife sanctuary;

2) Helping implement Tribal Forest Rights Act to ensure tenure security and sense a greater awareness towards conservation among the local people; and

3) Environmental Education for local schools. The programme was initiated with financial help from AID, Bay Area, USA and was subsequently funded by Ruffords Small Grants programme.