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VASUNDHARA - Democratising Natural Resources Governance

CFR Management in Practice :

Tenurial security over Community Forest Resources is only the first step towards asserting rights and control over community forests. The next steps include setting up of strong institutional systems to manage the forests and to reclaim the traditional focus on community forests being source of NTFP based livelihoods, as source of subsistence for people and domestic animals, and for provision of ecosystem services that sustain and strengthen traditional practices.  

While setting up institutions for Community Forest Management is the logical next step after asserting the claim over community forests, the real challenge is to manage the forests based on the perceived needs of the village. A key perceived need is of course the continued availability of NTFPs. There is a need to keep away from the commercial timber orientation that the state promotes – especially through the non-democratic institutions. At the same time there is a need to ensure that NTFP harvesting doesn’t affect the production of the concerned NTFPs or the sustenance of the forest itself that has been sold for subsistence economy. For example collection practices of Siali leaves along with management of Siali vines; practice of just putting in jackfruit, Mango or Aonla, Harida, Bela, Mahua seeds at suitable spots in the forests while walking in the forest to manipulate the composition of the forest towards greater bio-diversity; practices like deliberately planting the eyes of tubers in suitable sites while harvesting them; or carefully harvesting medicinal plants to ensure survival and regeneration form an invisible but highly effective ecological management. There are thousands of such community conservation practices in different parts of India which offer effective local solutions to the complex process of conservation and management of forest and ecosystems. Such intimate management of forests through a combination practical community control mechanism based on thumb rules and regulation, observations, learning, sharing learning and experimentations are operationalized by Gramsabhas.  

We have been working with communities and community leaders in few districts of Odisha like Nayagarh(Ranpur CFM areas), Mayurbhanj (especially Similipal Biosphere Reserve), Kandhamal, Deogarh , Sambalpur and Sundargarh, to enrich our knowledge over management of natural resource and governance as well as building networks with groups inside and outside state who all are working with similar interest. On the other hand organizing training, meetings for the CFR management committees members, PRI members, facilitators from CSOs and other actors of similar interest to build up their capacity and sharing their learning and experimentations. Our engagement on research and documentation of traditional practices and biodiversity is to substantiate information base for researchers and practitioners.  

Democracy, Equity, Social Justice and Ethical Development

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