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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Community based forest management in Indian states

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Various human communities have been deserving blames of encroachment into forest lands, tree felling and allowing their cattle to graze in forest land since long. As awareness started spreading from village to village and nature started teaching the lesson in the form of drying wells, water bodies and fodder crops, people has started forming groups and starting movements in different states of India such as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand etc. to protect resources keeping control on people and government schemes of development. The protection of forests by Chipko workers, Sukhomajari people, Bisnois etc have been rather bigger efforts, small groups of people from many Indian villages have started protecting and managing local resources on their own sometimes by standing government executives. Though cases of over exploitation of resources by local people are comparatively greater in number, self help groups and communities are sending much positive signals that may demoralize most of the negative forces in days to come, it is hoped.

A recent activity of conservation of forests by Baiga tribals of Madhya Pradesh through community-based planning deserves much praise in this regard. The Hindu in its December 26, 2009 issue reports – the Baiga tribes, a primitive tribal group from Dhaba forest village of Samnapur block of Madhya Pradesh, have managed to protect and expand over 600 areas of forest cover around their village.

Sal Forest of Madhya Pradesh, India

A village based movement to save forest areas started in the area about 8 years ago and the same has now taken the form of “an efficient forest management plan for being sustained for community monitoring.

The community of Baiga tribals has framed its own rules to protect forest. Under the locally framed rules by the tribal community no one is allowed to enter into the forest with an axe or match box and bidis. Outsiders are not at all allowed to enter into the forest. If someone of the society breaks the rule, he is boycotted out of the community and nobody of the society takes part in his social functions like marriage and funerals. There is a provision of the monetary penalty also.

As per reports, once the forest department decided to cut down infected sal trees of the forest, and infected trees were marked for cutting, villagers found that some healthy trees too were marked infected. As a result a protest started and the department had to mark afresh.
Many examples of community-based forest management can be cited from the states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand also. Here in these states people have formed Forest Protection Committees to protect forests and forest produce under the Joint Forest Management Programme. The work is going on successfully. All these actions by the people are positive signals of protection of natural resources in the country.

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