Western Region, Both Shala, Jaipur, 24th -25th October 2009

(CensSE, KRAPAVIS, and Kalpavriksh)

Jaipur6

A few participants of the Western India consultation in Jaipur   (Ashish Kothari)

Emerging issues and points for future action

  •  Western India provides a good example of a diverse range of areas survived largely because of community support and motivation, yet community role in conservation has not been fully appreciated.
  • Community conserved and protected lands gain great significance in these arid and semi arid zones for the livelihoods of local people as also for the local biodiversity conservation.
  • Orans (sacred grazing lands, including forests and grasslands) of Rajasthan are among the good examples of CCAs and need urgent attention and support.
  • Orans are also very important potential for revival of CCAs where the traditional practices have been eroded.
  • Some legal provisions can play a very significant role in revival and support of CCAs in Western India. These include, in particular, the forests rights Act and the Environmental Protection Act (particularly to fight against threat from development projects). Use of these provisions needs to be initiated on ground to support CCAs.
  • There is also an urgent need for proper and detailed documentation of community initiatives in Western India. Such a need is evident from the fact that Sariska Tiger Reserve from where communities are currently being relocated has been carved out of 12 Orans, whose presence and traditions related to the same have never been considered in the management of the Tiger Reserve.
  • Activists, researchers and communities from different parts of the country need to share their own experiences with each other.
  • Major threats to CCA’ are from mining and often also from from well intentioned development activities.
  • Understanding the larger landscape and production context in which CCA’s function is a necessary part of understanding their relevance in contemporary conditions.
  • For conservation to achieve (which is also essential for local livelihoods) a combination of local control and external monitoring (a balance between rights and responsibilities/ and local control and responsibility) is essential.
  • Use of FRA in the Orans within Sariska National Park to strengthen conservation while dealing with the issues of relocation and denial of rights of the local villagers
  • It is important to look at CCAs at a landscape level and not in isolated patches. The planning for sustainable use and conservation should also be at the landscape level and schemes such as National Employment Guarantee Scheme to play for planning and implementation

wi jaipur7

          Western India consultation in Jaipur (Ashish Kothari)

Challenges facing the Orans (sacred grazing lands including grasslands and forests)

  •  Livestock composition has changed from predominantly cows to goats and buffaloes in the recent times. The local ecosystem is not used to this new composition. Do ecological changes need to be made such that they can deal with the changing livestock composition? Is this appropriate?
  • The traditional systems which managed the Orans such the Thain have broken down and the local decision making bodies or the panchyat have no interests in the Orans or their conservation
  • Linking new context such as changing socio-cultural environment and markets with conservation. Issues of equity, transparency, are facing the governance of the Orans and need to be addressed both within and outside of the communities.
  • Need to understand the market mechanisms linked to carbon to assess whether they are a threat or an opportunity for the Orans.
  • Sacred and religious sites such as the Dhaam or Dhooni need to be revived. This however is also a challenge as dominant religion, fundamentalism and a lack of understanding of the real spirit of the natural elements is also presenting itself as a major in many sacred sites with more focus on construction and less on the spirituality.
  • Communities in many areas still follow some traditional practices which reflect old conservation values but are largely changing because of a number of internal and external factors. Much ground work needs to be done in reviving such traditional practices while keeping the current socio economic realities in view.
  • Many CCAs exist inside formal PAs. There is an urgent need to resolve the issue of recognition of CCAs within formal PAs as also the issues of rights and responsibilities faced by these communities in particular.

See annexure 7 for details