The strongest allies of the forest are the tribal communities who call it their home.
After decades of excluding them from the process of forest conservation, the world is realising that community-based conservation and management can play an important role in reviving threatened wildlife populations and protecting natural ecosystems.
Using the tribal self-rule process of Mendha-Lekha village in the Gadchiroli District of Maharashtra as an example, the authors document how this small tribal village has empowered itself and protected the surrounding forests for the last two decades. Here, the Gond community took upon themselves the onus to become self-reliant, assert their rights and take responsibility for managing their resources. This case study is part of the South Asia Regional Review of Community Involvement in Conservation and includes literature surveys, field visits, interaction with the local community and those involved in the village initiative including government officials and NGOs.
The booklet Tribal Self-rule and Natural Resource Management has historical and cultural information about the region and looks into the administration, land and resource use in the village, the community’s empowerment process, people’s participation in decision-making, the functioning of the village, the social, financial and ecological implications and future direction of this unique initiative. The transformation of a rural, impoverished and helpless people into a community that has taken a step towards transparent decision-making processes that benefit biodiversity protection and also fulfill livelihood requirements is worth emulating.
By Neema Pathak and Vivek Gour-Broome
Published by: Kalpavriksh, Paperback; Price: Rs. 100