community reserves

Empowering communities-an opinion

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 23, 2006

Forum Post

I found this post in an MSN group and thought that it is worth sharing.

"I, too, have set out in the world determined to help the plight of endangered species. But there is little sense in attempting to save a species if you can not first save the habitat which that species depends on for survival. And you will have no chance of saving the habitat unless you can do something to alleviate the financial pressures of the local peoples who must rely on depleting natural resources in order to survive.

It is quite easy as North American and European arm-chair activists to play the blame-game and point the finger at poachers and subsistance farmers clearing forests. We in the developed world have already wiped out half of our forests and the species that lived there. Now we think we know what's best for the resource management of the rest of these "third-world" nations. And, true, there are so many complex issues facing this problem.

Most of the decline in wildlife populations directly attributed to habitat fragmentation. Most of the rainforest degradation in the world results from the need of local peoples to push further into forests to clear land in order to grow crops. However, this is a direct result of those people being displaced from their lands by large multinational agriculture industries who are focused on growing export crops or grazing cattle. This leaves the people, who once utilized their land much more sustainably and were able to consume the crops they grew, in a state of poverty and malnutrition.

Set aside vast tracts of wilderness as National Parks, and as commendable as that is, it too denies local people the resources they need to survive, leading to illegal deforestation and poaching. Poachers, miners, and slash & burn farmers are not evil people with the intentions of wiping out biodiversity or environmental destruction. They are simply trying to provide the best life possible for their families. How can those of us in the industrialized world, with our air conditioned cars, satelite TV, iPods and white picket fences realistically blame them for striving for more? To those struggling for daily necessities like food, clean water and medicine, wildlife survival and habitat conservation generally takes a backseat.

I believe it is going to take a massive shift in the lifestyles of we in the developed world if there is to even be a hope for a biodiverse, healthy Earth in the future. This will include financially taking responsibility to save these places, as well as a change in our own energy and food consumption habits, and eliminating the market for exotic species. This all starts right at home, with each of us contributing our own small part to a greater whole. The problem is, most people, especially in the USA, have the attitude "If it's not affecting me directly, then I don't really care."

Unfortunately, by the time the problem is big enough to be directly affecting people in places like the USA (as it's already beginning with things like global warming), it may be too late to do anything about it."




community reserves

Tribal Rights Bill

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 24, 2006

Forum Post

On December1, 2005 the Union Cabinet gave its approval to the revised Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill.

One of the major changes in the final Bill is that the ambiguity in cut off date for determining tribal rights over land has been removed and October 25, 1980, has been made the cut-off date.

The second major change pertains to rights of tribals in national parks and sanctuaries. Tribal inhabitants would be given provisional pattas with a clear caveat that they could be relocated. "They would have right to acreage but not to land."

The third deviation is that forest officials would be involved at every stage in the process of granting land rights to tribals. Non-tribal forest dwellers will be settled according to the settlement rules of the environment and forests ministry.

There is no change in the long list of forest rights given to tribals as well as the provision that the right conferred shall be heritable but not alienable or transferable. Similarly, there is no change as far as duties -most concerning conservation of flora and fauna-of the holder of forest rights are concerned.

community reserves

Community Reserves and law

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 11, 2005

Forum Post

There are traditional practices such as sacred tanks and sacred groves, institutions such as Van Panchayats as well as new initiatives such as joint forest management (JFM).

A lot of community based conservation happens on Government lands such as reserve forests, wetlands, and coasts. A good example is the efforts of villagers in Alwar district in protecting the catchment forests of Arvari river, most of which are on Government land.

Once this area is declared as a Conservation Reserve, several Government Agencies will take over the conservation work. A government –people participation approach rather than amending laws and coining new terms seems to be the need of the hour.

community reserves

Tiger Task Force

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 05, 2005

Forum Post

The Tiger Task Force has submitted its report. The report brings out some glaring facts.

"In the last 30 years, only 80-odd villages have been relocated from all 28 reserves. There are another 1,500 existing inside, of which 250 are within core areas of tiger reserves, which must be relocated. Relocating them will cost Rs 660 crore at the minimum, in terms of the meager relocation package government works with today, and without accounting for land costs. If this is taken into account, then the estimated cost is Rs 11,000 crore.

What is suggested is a time-bound programme to identify those villages that must be relocated because of they are located inside crucial tiger habitats. It is also suggested that, unlike the past, this relocation must be done speedily and sensitively, with careful consideration of the needs of people."

The chair person also says that if we do not make peace with the communities who share the tigers’ home, we will lose the war of conservation tiger by tiger. Identifying the cause for a crisis situation is certainly the first step towards a solution.

Let us think solutions now! How can we have the communities become stakeholders in tourism for example? Any suggestions?

community reserves

Community reserves and law

Posted by Arun PR on February 23, 2005

Forum Post

I appreciate the view of Bahar Dutt on the need for support for Community reserves. Moreover, those communities need more appreciation and acknowledgement from the governmental and scientific community.

Often the community forests such as sacred groves are kept for religious values and the rules and regulations governing them might widely vary from community to community. Only a local level management approach involving informed participants mainly from the specific community/communities involved in the conservation only can promot the conservation of community reserves.

Probably the Kalpavriksh's data (mentioned by Bahar Dutt) on various community reserves should be studied thoroughly for making some umbrella rule that should serve only as some sort of a broad guidelines for the management of these reserves at National level.

community reserves

community reserves

Posted by richa on February 17, 2005

Forum Post

I read the article by Bahar Dutt at

I completely agree with her views on community reserves. Until and unless the government also helps and encourages these local tribes and residents, they will find it difficult in the long-run to protect valuable wildlife and natural resources, given illegal use of these resources.

These local residents must feel that their efforts are not going wasted because then only many more people will want to work for such causes without thinking about the adverse repercussions of legal loopholes on the environment.

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