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Saturday, July 18, 2009

KHONOMA: The Green Village of India

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It has been the initiative of responsible persons of the Khonoma area that hunting was finally banned by the local communities in biodiversity rich areas. Over the last decades Angami tribals inhabiting Khonoma area, stood fast to make giant strides in establishing and strengthening the systems of natural resource management; in resolving the conflicts emerging out during the process, handling the administration of the village and its appropriate development. All these steps were taken by up by Angamis tribals due to a resolute will of protecting plants and animals of the area and ensuring ecological balance. .The courage and will power to Angamis for protecting their environment and giving it to the trendsetter form that we see today, had never been copied or imported from anywhere in the world , rather, all the courage and will power for doing such an astonishingly great job emerged out of the traditional ethos of the village.

The Background Scenario

In 1995, the Village Council of Khonoma with Tsilie as its one of the members, was convinced with the idea of the Forest Officer of local origin Mr. T. Angami, about notifying nearly 2000 hectares (sq km) of the land of the Khonoma area as Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary (KNCTS).Since hunting was too much a part of the culture of the tribal people inhabiting the Khonoma area, the idea had to face a number of oppositions from many of local persons. But extensive discussions were continued among Tsilie, Mr. Angami and villagers, for three long years. Due to these discussions most of the Khonoma villagers were convinced and the foundation stones of KNCTS were laid in December 1998.With the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the sanctuary, hunting in the area was completely banned by the community. A Naga Pavilion has been erected at Khonoma to mark the importance of the village.

The Khonoma village set up a KNCTS- Trusts and framed the sets of rules and regulations. Mr. Tsilie, one of the founder members of the Village Council, was selected its First Managing Director. A warden was also appointed for periodic checking of the sanctuary affairs including the activities of volunteers. In fact, KNCTS is a part of the same important Dzuku valley which has been referred by the great Indian author; novelist and poet Mr. Vikram Seth in his famous poem, "The elephant and the Tragopan." This valley shelters healthy populations of pheasants including the endangered state- bird of Nagaland the Blythii Tragopan. The valley has been identified by the Bombay Natural History Society as one of the Most Important Bird Areas of India. The sanctuary is the shelter of vast varieties of animals such as Himalayan Black Bear, many Species of Orchids and other plants including Dzuku lily which is endemic to the area. The important Fauna include serow, leopard; sambhar etc.

It is now proposed that Khonoma Sanctuary should be extended to the neighboring buffer zone of forests covering an area of over 3000 hectares, on ground over 10,000 hectares(100sq.km).The tribal people of Khonoma are discussing the matter with Manipur Tribes. It is now hoped that the entire Dzuku and Jampfer area may be declared as Community Protected Area which may then be extended upto many hundred sq. km.

The Union Ministry of Tourism and Culture is supporting the Khonoma green village project(KGVP).As one part of this project the Ministry is promoting Ecotourism in the Khonoma area. In order to avoid any damage to the local environment that may be expected through Ecotourism, the Centre for the Environmental Education has been given the responsibility of conducting Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Studies of the area. The Guidelines, codes of conduct and Environmental Indicators were already worked out
before the start of the flow of tourists.

The Community Conserved Areas

The Modern System of Shifting Cultivation as practiced in Khonoma Village of Nagaland is a trendsetter example. In fact, the plantation of Alder trees, the pollarding of these trees, use of these trees in making nitrogenous fertilizer etc. is not done by a single person or by a single family. Neither the work of managing such a vast and trendsetter Sanctuary is a work of few people. These works demand too much of care, wisdom, attention, management- skill and man- power. Thus all the work done for greening the Khonoma, managing the wildlife sanctuary, improving the system of agriculture etc. have been and still these are the community works. Thus, Khonoma and neighboring areas are called as Community Conserved Areas (CCAs).

Areas, those are voluntarily conserved by indigenous, mobile and local communities through customary laws or by other effective means are called as Community Conserved Areas (CCAs).
These communities have substantial dependence on the local natural resources that are contained in the ecosystems of such areas for their survival, livelihood and cultural sustenance. The efforts of conservation taken up by communities include continuation of Traditional Conservation and practices of sustainable utilization of resources.According to Mr. Ashish Kothari, the Environmentalist, Researcher and Writer from India

"Khonoma may well be the only village in India that has a Global Citizenry with an active self identity; every year, 1st September is celebrated as the village's 'birth day' with Khonomaians from far and wide coming to the village to celebrate or carrying out celebrations where ever they are."

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