Empowering and involving the local community in the protection, conservation and management of forest is essential for the ecological sustainability and livelihood. People are managming their forest since long. Govermnment also accepted that without participation community, govt only can not protect and conserve the forest. So GoI enacted Schedule Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act to recognise forest rights of tribal and other forest dwelling communities over forest. This act empowers people to have access over resources and also makes them responsible for its conservation and rejuvenation through their organisations and institutions. Acts like the FRA, Biological Diversity Act (BDA), Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act (PESA), etc. seek to address the structural causes of poverty which relate to degradation of the resource base. It aims to strengthen tribal and backward communities for accessing, controlling, conservations and management of natural resources with focus on forest, water, biodiversity and institutions and create livelihoods through sustainable and scientific use of resource base and skill endowments of people, with focus on management and participation through community organisations and institutions.
The district Yavatmal has maximum forests but the tribal population here is predominantly poor in resources and deprived from its legitimate right of accessing natural resources. The main livelihood of the poor people in the region is agriculture which is largely dry land and rain-fed. A large section of these people, especially tribal, are also largely dependent on forest resources and are small and marginal land holders. Yavatmal is rich in natural resources such as forests and minerals but they are either over exploited or misused showing no plans of sustainable use or involving local communities in their protection and management. So our organisation is to empower the tribal and forest dwelling community to manage their forest. We enhance the skill s of community, so that they can prepare their conservation and management plan.
As per act now CFR recognised Gramsabhas have to prepare their conservation and management plan for next five to ten years to execute it effectively with the technical support of department as and when required. Objective of preparation of conservation and management plan is as
- Protection, conservation and management of forest, wildlife and biodiversity
- To improve the socioeconomic status
- To develop forest as productive unit
- Soil and water conservation on the basis of watershed management
- NTFP to use as wild food and related entrepreneurship
Conservation and management plan can be prepare by Gramsabhas by using following processes
- Conduct Volunteers training on stock mapping process
- Boundary demarcation by volunteers and forest officials
- List the Traditional Tapuwise forest status average as dense, medium dense or degraded and also perform the GPS survey
- List all plant species familiar to people and make a qualitative assessment of the species as totally absent(0), Rare(1), Medium(2) and Abundant(3) in forest area
- Prepare a Tapu wise visionary map
- Select a sample area of 2% to 5% from CFR area to map the species.
- Select a sample plot as 100 mtrs by 100 mtrs to map trees of above 15cms girth
- Select a sample of 30 mtrs by 30 mtrs to map the natural regeneration
- Select a sample plot of 10mtrs by 10 mtrs to map the medicinal plants
- Select a sample plot of 2mtrs by 2 mtrs to map the grasses
- Plan SWC work
- Register the readings in a format
- Analyze the readings to understand the status of forest area
With the facilitation of GSMT, 557 CFRs were approved in the Yavatmal district with the coordination of district administration. GSMT made the correspondence with the district administration and the forest department for the preparation of Conservation and Management Plans of these villages. Presentations to this effect were also made to the District Collector. Conservation and Management plans facilitated by GSMT have been approved by the district administration. GSMT facilitated the process of development of Forest conservation and Management Plans through CFRMCs. Villages have started the execution of Management plan through district convergence committee with the support of Nodal agency:
So in our field area, we build the capacities of Gramsabha members and enhanced their skills of planning, execution, monitoring, advocacy and financial management. Gramsabhas have prepared their conservation and management plan of five years and are now executing with the support of various department. Gramsabhas took the initiative and executed their plan through various schemes. People got benefited from forest based livelihood and agriculture based livelihood through MGNREGA, ITDP, 14th finance commission, Forest based schemes.
Local Barefoot technicians cum thematic expert trained and are supporting in execution of conservation and management plan through various line department especially forest. Gramsabha members have formed their federation as Gramsabha mahasangh and solving their issues related to their plan of action. Youth trained on business plan through workshops and exposure to best practices especially for tendu, bamboo, lac, Gum, Mahua flower and seed and honey. So in such a way forest based business initiated in villages to sustain ecological security and sustainable livelihood.