Recognising and Supporting Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) in South Asia and Globally
Final Report, February 2011
Conducted by Kalpavriksh
Sponsored by GEF Small Grants Programme (Global)
Kalpavriksh had undertaken a one year (2009-10) project "Recognising and Supporting Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas in South Asia and Globally". Its main objectives were to:
(a) build on existing ICCA documentation and processes in South Asia with a series of consultations on issues of national recognition, and international databases;
(b) consolidate the ICCA information at a South Asia level;
(c) coordinate a series of legal assessments of national measures for ICCA recognition; and
(d) provide technical inputs to the development of a ICCA registry at the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
e) produce a briefing note on recognition and support to ICCAs (a set of dos and don’ts)
f) facilitate community member participation in CBD SBSTTA
g) preparation of final project report
Part I: Activities from March 2009 to December 2009
1. Activities at regional and national level
1.1 Building on existing information regarding ICCAs in South Asia region
An inventory of ICCAs in South Asia was updated during this project building on previous work by Kalpavriksh and partner organizations in the region, including a 2008-09 project on ICCAs in South Asia funded by Swedbio. As part of the current project, partners in 5 South Asian countries (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) have been facilitated to update and add to their national inventories and analyses of ICCAs. A full inventory is attached and this will continue to be updated during follow up periods post this project.
1.2 Organising a regional workshop on ICCAs for the S. Asia region
South Asia ICCA consultation, Kathmandu, Nepal, 4th-7th August 2009
(Organisers: Forest Action, Nepal and Kalpavriksh, India)
Kalpavriksh in association with Forest Action (Nepal), organized a South Asian regional workshop on ICCAs in August 2009, utilizing funds from the ongoing Swedbio sponsored project (mentioned above) and the current project. The workshop was helpful in consolidating available information and analyses on ICCAs in the region, exchanging experiences of various partners, and building partnerships for future regional work. A report of this workshop is attached.
Main Emerging Issues
- For legal and policy recognition various forms and mechanisms not necessarily legal recognition need to be explored and accepted.
- Each country needs to evaluate for itself but in consultation with the concerned communities and other relevant actors whether or not CCAs should be considered PAs and incorporate in the PA system?
- Tenure issues, benefits of legal recognition, kind of structure, spaces for customary law, jurisdiction issues that need to be explored within each country.
- The manner and processes adopted for formal recognition to CCAs needs to be clearly defined and understood in each country. These processes should not end up becoming tools for dispossession.
- Differentiating between different community-based natural resource systems which can/cannot be qualified as CCAs is important.
- The governance structure and the power of being able to decide the form of the governance structures by the concerned communities themselves is critical.
- Various mechanism for support could include; Legal backing for CCAs; Human resource development; Document and reaffirm cultural dimensions of conservation; Involve indigenous communities in conservation policy and planning in general; Clarify and protect international property rights of local/indigenous communities.
- It is also important to assess whether or not CCAs are achieving conservation objectives, for example what does it mean for a CCA to have potential to achieve biodiversity conservation? Is there a particular set of criteria or indicators that can be used to assess the same? How do practitioners and advocates deal with uncertainty in CCA biodiversity outcomes, in terms of planning and assessment?
- South Asia needs to consider trans-boundary landscape-level initiatives that incorporate ICCA concept was articulated. Communities can play a key role in the evolution of larger landscape institutional arrangements.
- Concerns related to the database; would the database favour communities which are in touch with civil society organisations leading to skewed representation in the database? What would it mean for CCAs trying to seek national recognition? Would it lead to conflicts with the national governments? Would it create conflicts among communities? What would be the process of verification? And so on.
- More widespread, inclusive and in-depth discussion on the registry is required within South Asia before populating the database. A time bound e-mail discussion (first two weeks of September) with some of the participants and others would help reach first level of agreement which could then be taken to other relevant actors
The Way Forward
- National workshops to be organized in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.
- Furthering detailed documentation on CCAs at the national level in the countries.
- Focused e-discussion group on Global database (WDPA) on CCAs
- Continue the discussion on the key issues that have emerged from the workshop, to improve the understanding and communication of on-ground situations for various countries.
1.3 Facilitating national and sub-national level consultations in the S. Asia region
Five other consultations at national and sub national level were organised in association with partners:
(a) A subregional workshop on ICCAs in North-East India, at Nowgaon, Assam (May 2009)
(b) A national workshop on ICCAs in Nepal, in Kathmandu (August 2009)
(c) A subregional workshop on ICCAs in West India, at Jaipur, Rajasthan (October 2009)
(d) A national workshop on ICCAs in Bangladesh, Dhaka (February 2010)
(e) A national workshop on ICCAs in Sri Lanka, Colombo (June 2010)
Meeting with community members during the field visit to Baika Beel in Bangladesh (Anwarul Islam)
Each of these workshops focused on reviewing and updating the status of knowledge on ICCAs; sharing experiences of successes and failures, threats and opportunities; and consolidating proposals for future joint action. The Nepal workshop (which was held with additional financial support from GEF SGP Global), also provided a platform for an open review of a national level status report prepared under the previous project that Kalpavriksh coordinated, sponsored by Swedbio (mentioned above).
Draft or final reports of these all five consultations are attached. The summary of the same is given below:
Bangladesh, Dhaka, 24th-25th October 2010
(Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh and Kalpavriksh, India)
- To discuss CCA status, trends, challenges and potentials
- To identify ways and means for developing a sustainable CCA constituency in Bangladesh
- To discuss strategic provisions and priority actions in support of CCA
National consultation on CCAs in Bangladesh, Dhaka (Ashish Kothari)
The challenges for CCAs:
- Unclear legal status and tenure (e.g. Unsclassed State Forests in Chittogong Hill Tract)
- Lack of social and legal recognition as CCAs (e.g. to well conserved mouza forests)
- Lack of information on ecological and social values of CCAs.
- Threats from inappropriate ‘development’ processes (mining, agricultural expansion, dams…)
- Internal community inequalities, political vested interests
- Over-extraction, excessive hunting
- Inadequate livelihood options
- Lack of financial sustainability of initiative
Needs of CCAs in Bangladesh:
- Continuation of identification and documentation of CCAs
- Mapping of CCAs for long term ecological and social monitoring
- Study of ecological & socio-economic values
- Legal and policy measures for recognition (national and regional laws, e.g. CHT Regulation)
- Coordination between different departments
- Generating livelihoods for the conserving communities
- Capacity building including the community’s capacity to generate various financial and other resources required
- Recommendations for appropriate awards for good community conservation and governance practices
- Helping in formulation of various local, supra local support networks and network at the national level
- However the need is to make all these more appropriate for CCAs taking into account local peculiarities. This can be done by framing of appropriate rules within a timeframe and with the participation of the local communities; important that CCAs are provided control and allowed to manage with their own institutions while the laws and policies provide a larger framework and checks and balances.
At the end of the workshop the participants were able to:
- Get a lucid idea about the concept of CCAs in general and sharing of experiences from within Bangladesh and the other parts of the world.
- Know more about community based conservation programmes of different countries
- Understand the values of CCAs and how they are maintained
- Challenges of CCAs face and what can be/has been done in certain situations
- Policy initiatives by other countries and their relevance for Bangladesh
- Importance of continuation of identification and documentation
- Major international support tools for CCAs
- Needs of CCAs in Bangladesh and what can be done about it
- Way of ensuring adequate recognition for CCAs under existing and proposed laws and policies
Follow up action
- As a follow up UNDP Bangladesh in collaboration with Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh and Kalpavriksh is drawing of a 5-year plan for support of CCAs in Bangladesh. Programme details are currently being worked out.
Nepal, Kathamandu, 2nd -3rd August 2010
(Forest Action, Nepal and Kalpavriksh, India)
Field visit to Roopa Tal in Nepal along with other South Asian participants (Ashish Kothari)
Main emerging issues
- Recognize, respect existing practices of conservation through process that does not undermine customary practices and systems.
- Providing financial, technical, and livelihoods support and helping them, fight external threats
- Considering relevant ones as part of PA network (if desired by community) hence considering CCAs as one of the governance types of PAs
- Reporting them to global database (with appropriate community consent)
- Securing rights of communities over the resources they are conserving.
- Contradictions between local conservation initiatives and policies leading to confusion on ground
- Bureaucratic hassles creating difficulties in creation of Community Forestry Users Groups (CFUGs), procedures requiring skills which communities are unlikely to posses and hence increasing dependence on outsiders.
- Inadequate consultation with local people while declaring new protected areas, no debates and discussions about the governance of those PAs, even if some of them include areas conserved by the communities.
- Lack of integration of sporadic conservation initiatives at a larger landscape level conservation to enhance scale of conservation
- No tenure security for the conserving communities
- No clear benefit sharing provisions and mechanisms for those conserving the resources
- No clarity of jurisdictions between various government departments
- Lack of adequate sensitivity or respect towards sacred sites of indigenous peoples
- No linkage between conservation, poverty and development related programmes
- Lack of harmonization between traditional resource use practices with new regimes of forest management.
Follow up action
- The representatives of local communities and indigenous peoples and their formal and informal organization decided to form a network of ICCAs in Nepal with the support from the civil society organizations. The network came up with a plan to expand its scope and engage in further dialogue within its own respective constituency. The network was represented by the following groups:
ICCA Sherpas in Khumbu region
Rupa Wetland Fisheries Cooperative, Kaski
Committee of proposed Rhododendron Community Conservation Area (Tinjure-Milkey-Jaljaley)
Indigenous Chepang youth managing forest in a landscape, Chitwan
Godavari Kunda Community Forest, Lalitpur
Panchasey hill forest landscape, Parbat-Syanja-Kaski
Buffer Zone Community Forest from Chitwan national park.
Kanchenjunga Conservation Area
Sri Lanka, Colombo, 9th -10th June 2010
(Public Interest Law Foundation, Sri Lanka and Kalpavriksh, India)
National consultation on CCAs in Sri Lanka, Colombo (Ashish Kothari)
- Workshop brought together a number of government representatives, NGOs and community representatives who were able to comment on each other’s efforts and seek clarifications.
- Some participants found the current definition of CCAs highly restrictive, particularly in its reference to an “area”. It was felt that the scope needed to be expanded to take into account various cultural practices which may or may not be bound by physical boundaries.
- This workshop led to the clarification of concepts and definitions of CCAs. Participants figured that there are a number of traditional and new community efforts in Sri Lanka which could be considered CCAs but have not been so far. These include some of the home gardens
- GEF-SGP is funding a number of initiatives in Sri Lanka related to regeneration and conservation of degraded forests; protecting forests from intending mining, forest protection for sustaining micro-hydal projects
- Threat to CCAs from development activities, particularly tourism and infrastructural development for tourism
- Many programmes within PAs, forests etc. seek people’s participation but do not yet talk about actual empowerment of communities. Some programmes, particularly ones dealing with traditional irrigation tanks, conservation of medicinal plants, home gardens, hermitages, have a good potential to develop into CCAs.
Emerging follow up needs
- Sri Lanka CCA report for the South Asia documentation needs to be updated taking into account examples and issues emerging from the consultation.
- IUCN and UNDP to consider possibility of taking the process of CCA documentation in Sri Lanka forward, using the format used by CCA India Directory in India with appropriate modifications.
- Revision and updating the database on CCAs in Sri Lanka, particularly looking at some of the examples that were shared during the consultation also from various programmes mentioned during the consultation such as the ones that are CCA within the sites that are being supported by GEF-SGP and so on.
- IUCN to work on developing the matrix on management types and governance types of PAs in Sri Lanka (including CCAs)
- UNDP to look at possibilities of organising a similar consultation for all the GEF-SGP partners in Sri Lanka.
- Exploring the possibilities of exchange visits of interested community members to other sites in India or other South Asian countries.
- Need for a more media outreach and advocacy for CCAs
- A more detailed analysis of legal provisions which have legal spaces for CCAs
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)
Western Region, Both Shala, Jaipur, 24th -25th October 2009
(CensSE, KRAPAVIS, and Kalpavriksh)
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
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.
1.4 Carrying out national level advocacy regarding recognition and support to ICCAs in appropriate ways
In conjunction with the consultations mentioned above, Kalpavriksh and relevant partners furthered their advocacy efforts to get ICCAs recognized in appropriate ways. Each of the consultations discussed the pros and cons of existing laws and policies, experiences with past or ongoing advocacy, and strategies for more effective advocacy. In India, Kalpavriksh continued its inputs to and lobbying with the central government and some state governments, for appropriate legal and administrative recognition of ICCAs. In Nepal, Forest Action and other groups began this process as part of the Swedbio-sponsored and the current project, including at the national workshop mentioned above, where government officials were present. As part of this project a national level of federation of CCAs in Nepal came into existence. This federation played an important role in raising people’s concerns about the creation of three new conservation areas. The federation is now lobbying for acceptance of traditional and new systems of conservation by the people. In Pakistan, our partner Tahir Rashid of Habitat & Species Conservation Project, SUSG-Central Asia, began advocacy to include ICCAs into the legal regimes of Balochistan province, succeeding in achieving this in the revised wildlife legislation draft; he is now attempting the same in Punjab and North-West Frontier Provinces. In Bangladesh, the local partner Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh along with UNDP Bangladesh and the local groups has started a programme on documenting, facilitating and supporting ICCAs in Bangladesh, particularly, in Chittogong Hills District. Bangladesh has also included the CCAs as one of the category of PAs in version of the Wildlife Protection Act which is currently being amended. No follow up action has been taken by the groups in Sri Lanka but it is hoped that they will start soon.
Consultation with the community members in the Chittogong Hills, Bangladesh (Ashish Kothari)
2. Activities at a global level
2.1 Overall technical guidance of global process to document, recognize, and support ICCAs
Kalpavriksh continued its involvement in the following:
i. The ICCA Consortium, a global network of organizations (indigenous, civil society) working on ICCAs; efforts are ongoing to raise resources to put this Consortium on a sound footing, and step up activities of experience sharing, advocacy, and research.
ii. IUCN networks carrying out documentation and advocacy related to ICCAs, especially the WCPA-CEESP Strategic Direction on Governance, Equity and Livelihoods in Relation to Protected Areas (TILCEPA,www.tilcepa.org).
iii. Participation in the drafting of a policy brief on dos and don’ts while supporting ICCAs “ Strengthening what works-recognising and supporting the conservation achievements of indigenous peoples and local communities” (www.iccaforum.org)
iv. With the help of additional support from The Christenson Fund a Workshop was co-organised on ICCAs at Shirakawa-Go village in Japan coinciding with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
v. Kalpavriksh is also a member of the ICCA Consortium and participates in the activities of the Consortium, including commenting on various documents, organizing events and activities, and participating in debates and discussions related to the consortium, its governance and strategic direction.
2.2 Guidance to WCMC regarding global ICCA database
Kalpavriksh continued its inputs to the formulation of a global registry on ICCAs, being managed by UNEP WCMC in Cambridge, UK. This includes comments on its structure, protocols for inclusion of ICCAs (prior informed consent processes), and parameters of analysis. The consultations mentioned above also included a section to discuss the registry, seeking views of participants on the pros and cons of such a database, and ideas for ensuring community benefits and safeguarding local knowledge in the process. These ideas are being fed into the WCMC initiative.
2.3 Coordination of national assessments of legal measures for ICCA recognition and support.
Kalpavriksh built on an earlier assessment of national level legal and policy measures for ICCA recognition, being carried out for TILCEPA (iccaforum.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=84&Itemid=100). Several more countries have been covered, and these along with the earlier ones (updated where necessary) are being consolidated and analysed. This analysis will help assess progress of implementation of the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas, which contains specific provisions for national recognition and support to ICCAs. A review covering 25 countries was conducted and presented to the meeting of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice, in May 2010 (Nairobi); and to the CBD COP10 in October 2010 (Nagoya).
See Annexure 8 for details
2.4 Framing and helping to produce policy briefing notes on ICCA recognition and support, and ICCAs in relation to climate change (this was done as part of a larger team including others members of the ICCA forum and funds for the production were raised separately).
A fully updated briefing note on ICCAs was produced along with a team consisting of other ICCA Consortium members, building on the previous such note by TILCEPA (http://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/ceesp_briefing_note_9_iccas.pdf). This has a special section on the dos and don’ts of recognizing ICCAs. Both were aimed at official delegations at the SABSTTA and CBD meetings, at national government agencies in other forums, and at conservation NGOs, and to help indigenous peoples and local communities in their efforts to gain recognition. Kalpavriksh provided inputs to these notes, including taking a lead on the brief policy supplement on dos and don’ts. These documents have been widely distributed during the above mentioned events and through various websites.
Part II: Plans for the rest of the project
Kalpavriksh had requested and was given an extension of the project period till May 2010. In the coming period, the following activities were carried out:
1. National ICCA workshops in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka (with additional funding provided by UNDP Bangladesh and GEF SGP Global)
2. Consolidation of inventory of ICCAs in South Asia
3. Consolidation and analyses of national level legal provisions for ICCAs
5. Facilitation of community member participation in CBD SBSTTA (May 2010).
6. Preparation of final project report
7. If possible a national level consultation on ICCAs in India (which could not be organized because of various factors).
8. Finalisation and publication of a report on ICCAs in South Asia (with additional support from SwedBio) (currently in press).
Part III: Attachments (appended)
Annexure 1: Database on CCAs in South Asia
Annexure 3: Draft report on Workshop on ICCAs in Bangladesh
Annexure 4: Draft report on Workshop on ICCAs in Nepal
Annexure 5: Draft report on Workshop on ICCAs in Sri Lanka