Ecological studies and development of Management Plan
The rights under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) also include the “Right to protect, regenerate & manage the community Forest Resource”. The claiming of these rights and the subsequent process of management and protection of the forests are currently being discussed in the village. It is now being globally recognized that government agencies alone cannot protect or manage PAs without the help of the indigenous and local communities. The situation of conflict in Bhimashankar is an example of the same. The process of claiming Community Forest Resource is with the objective of being able to create a situation where the local communities and the government authorities together manage and protect the PA. While the discussion about claiming the rights of protection are going in Yelavali village, the process of demarcation of their traditional boundaries, mapping of the same, inventory of flora and fauna, and a management plan for this patch of forest is currently going on. The management plan is being developed with the help of the villagers using MIRADI as a tool. The villagers intend to submit this plan to the forest department and other relevant government agencies. In the meanwhile a Forest Protection Committee has already been formed and rules and regulations have been formulated. The implementation of these rules has not started yet. However meetings have been held in the surrounding villages to declare the intention of Yelavali to protect the forest falling within their traditional boundaries. We have had some meetings with Forest department to help community in the strategic planning for the management of the forest & requesting their involvement in the process as they are the key actors in the management of the BWLS. We await a positive response from them.
By helping local villagers strengthen their local level governance institution, assert rights over natural resources and prepare an effective management plan for the area, and helping them identify ecologically appropriate sources of livelihoods we hope to move towards resolving the conflict situation in Bhimashankar which will benefit both the wildlife and local people.
Specific activities taken up are:
- Drafting of Rules by Yelavali villagers for use & management of Natural resources
- Community forestry resource mapping using GIS. (Including marking the boundary of the village forest)
- Flora & fauna inventory
- Ecological monitoring by establishing 9 long term monitoring plots
- Discussions within the community about drafting the Management plan based on the above
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