North Eastern India, Nawgaon, Assam, 7th-9th May 2009
(Nawgaon Girls College, Assam; Winrock International-India, New Delhi, and Kalpavriksh)
Emerging issues and points for future action
- A detailed discussion regarding the definition of CCAs led to the emergence of the following clarification:
o Predominantly the community takes or influences major decisions that impact their forests and livelihood.
o Land ownership is important but not an essential criterion for becoming a CCA.
o It is important that conservation is happening or there is conservation potential.
o Community has existing institutional structure with rules or regulations (customary or written) that leads to conservation.
- Support needed by the communities is of various kinds, depending on the local situation but more critical is to establish an effective and transparent mechanism by which support can reach the communities. This could be through a regional, state-level or national support forum. The members for this forum need to be from all sectors academics, activist, community members (particularly youth), government officials and so on.
- Academic institutions could work as centres of information useful for CCAs and work as constant support and advisory body for CCAs. These agencies if at the sub state level could help communities develop inter-community, community-government, and community-rest of the world linkages. There is a possibility of State Biodiversity Boards becoming such a forum.
- External financial support is often crucial and sometimes essential for CCAs, however the community needs to be very clear about what they need the money for, how it would be spent and how best can a transparency be maintained in its accounting. Communities also need to explore local sources of funding rather than depending on large, external funds.
- Support is often required for generating local livelihoods, this is essential in many CCAs if the motivation of the youth in particular was to continue. Technical support is sometimes more important than financial support, for example for registration of local bodies, mapping exercises, management plans and so on.
- Any support or legal interventions must be carefully designed respecting the community dynamics.
- To support CCAs it is also important to engage with the political processes as communities are also linked to politics.
- Women have a much larger role within CCAs which is often not highlighted but is needed to be paid greater attention to.
- Checks and balances are needed even within CCAs if conservation is a long term goal
- International database would be helpful in strengthening the CCAs through recognition and support, however it must ensure that issues of bio-piracy are handled effectively; only non sensitive information is provided in the database; prior informed consent of the communities is sought; adequate care is taken such that the Traditional Ecological Knowledge is not misused; involvement of the National Biodiversity Authority and the State Biodiversity Board is explored; before the process of registry begins clarity must exist in defining and delineating CCAs; arrangements are made to provide the feedback to the communities on their respective CCAs authors publishing information about CCAs duly acknowledge the communities and share benefits. If the community reveals highly sensitive information due to excitement of the moment, the responsibility of safeguarding the interest of the community rests with the agency/individual collecting information.
- In order to arrest degradation and depletion of species many Protected Area corridors could be considered for creation of CCAs, in the North east it would be locations such as corridors between Dibru Saikhowa Wildlife Sanctuary and Laikhowa, Kaziranga wildlife Sanctuary to Orang Sanctuary
- CCAs in the NE need to be documented and mapped and categorized.
- Success stories need to be shared through the print and electronic media.
- NGOs working with CCAs need to coordinate better among themselves
- Traditional Knowledge systems need to be harmonized with Science and Technology
- More Workshops are needed to create awareness on CCAS in the North East. Consultations must reach grassroots.
- Monitoring of the performance of the NGOs must be done.
- Revival of CCAs as being done in Meghalaya must be encouraged.
- In the NE a nodal agency needs to facilitate functioning of the CCAS through a thorough analysis of the current programmes and policies of the government. Support of the Industries through their Corporate Social Responsibility and village adoption schemes by certain Universities in India could be explored.
Consultation with the community members in Kakoijana CCA in Assam during the field visit (Ashish Kothari)