The conservation initiative began in 1973. Initially, the village formed an informal group, which included one member from all households in the village, to discuss about and conserve the forests. This group started meeting regularly, at least once a month or more, depending on the need of the community.
Through these discussions the villagers realized that one of the major causes of forest degradation was gradual encroachment of these forests. In 1975, the entire community decided to protect the forest from encroachments and consciously try and keep a check on deforestation. Two respected people in the village, Sunaram Singh and Gour Mohan Singh, initiated this process and took a lead in implementing the decision of the village. The villagers decided to patrol the forest on a rotation basis. Each day 10 persons patrolled the forest from morning till evening.
Gradually, the forest began to regenerate and encroachment stopped. Unauthorised felling of trees, however, could not be stopped completely. The leaders in this process received support from the FD in their conservation efforts. However, consistent negative interference of neighbouring villages demoralized the villagers. After 12 years of strict protection, the conservation effort slowed down. The people felt helpless as they could not check illicit felling. This slow phase continued for another three years.
In 1992, Sunaram Singh took the lead again and boosted the morale of the villagers. This time he tried to do it an organised manner, and the village constituted a village forest protection committee, with a president and a secretary as office-bearers. The office-bearers were selected unanimously by the entire village. This sincere effort has continued since then. The decisions related to conservation and management of the forests are taken by the entire village. In 1997, with the intervention of the NGO Mayurbhanj Swechhasevi Samukhya (MASS), a woman’s committee was formed in the village.
In the year 1998, the Orissa Forest Department proposed this area for joint forest management. The local range officer of Betnoti Range formed a committee called van samrakshyan samiti (VSS) with representatives from the FD and the community. The rules and regulations formed by the committee are applicable to all members and forest users. Any violations get documented in a register and punishments are given to the offenders. The FD’s role is mainly supportive and involves administrative and policing work. The villagers hand over offenders to the FD if conflicts cannot be resolved among themselves.