Khawrakrai Village

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 Location Ecosystem Type   Conservation Type   Area(hectare) Legal status 
 Karbi- Anglong, Assam Forest Ecosystem Conservation670 Not Available

Case Study (2009)

Background

Khawrakrai village is located near the town of Hamren. This is a small village inhabited by the karbi tribe. Since 2003 the village is protecting an area of 6.70sq km. Prior to this the entire forest land was used for jhum (shifting cultivation) by the villagers.

In the 1990s the area was also extensively harvested for a local species of bamboo for paper mills. Illegal extraction of timber was also common. These activities resulted in severe degradation of local forest resources. Subsequently, the communities started experiencing scarcity of water, firewood, grazing land, construction material, wild edible plants, and wild animals in the forests.

Because of an earlier intervention from the forest department (FD), where they had helped villagers plant some forest species, the communities were already aware of the importance of forests. With the entry of the NERCORMP-IFAD1 project, the communities decided to revive protection of their village reserved forests as a community conserved area.

The community decided to conserve the area for various reasons, mainly for protecting their water source. Additionally, their traditional sacred forest was located very close to this area.

NERCORMP-IFAD came to this village in 2001. The communities were organized into Natural Resource Management Group (NaRMG) and a series of orientations and trainings on livelihoods and natural resource management were conducted for the communities, including both the NaRMG and traditional village institutions. All the trainings and discussions were held with the permission of the village gaon bura (village headman), who is traditionally the sole authority for management of village reserved forests. NaRMG members were trained and sensitized to assist the village council in protection, management and governance of the village reserved forests.

Rules and regulations were framed by the villagers with the help and facilitation by the project team and partner NGO. The rules are quite rigid mostly relating to prohibition and payment of penalties for violations. But at the same time some rules are quite flexible for poor villagers, especially for harvesting of non-timber forest produce (NTFP). However, no such relaxations are provided for the higher income households. For any amendment of the rules a majority of the villagers have to be present along with the village goan bura. Generally in such meetings the goan bura would preside.

As per the villagers, after the conservation of this area there has been better water availability. There is an overall improvement on forest cover and forest regeneration. Some wild animals are also reported to have returned to the forest area. The conservation efforts have particularly benefited the poorer households as they can get enough forest resources within their village proximity.

There is an opportunity for increasing the area under CCA provided the NaRMG and village council (VC) agree. There are also opportunities for the communities to enhance their income from the village reserve forests if major NTFP, which is bamboo, can be better protected, regenerated and collectively harvested. However, the constraints are that the area is poorly connected and remote so economic opportunities are restricted. Investment opportunities, particularly credit from local sources are also limited which otherwise would have helped the communities improve their livelihoods through alternative means. Shifting cultivation continues to be one of the major land uses as available suitable lands for terrace development are limited. Further training and convergence of activities are needed to benefit the communities from such conservation efforts or initiatives.

The rejuvenation of village reserves through a mobilized community is a fairly recent initiative. The reserve in this village is yet to be fully regenerated, and also yet to reach the level of governance that is completely equitable, transparent and accountable. However, the idea of conservation as initiated in this village is spreading in the surrounding villages. If only there could have been greater efforts from the government, the project ideas could have been replicated in many more villages through the communities themselves with minimal external investment of effort and resources.

  This case study has been contributed by Vincent Darlong and Tutumoni Lyngdoh of North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project for Upland Areas, and Putul Bhuyan of Karbi Anglong Community Resource Management Society in June 2007.

Vincent Darlong
North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project for Upland Areas [NERCORMPIFAD],

“Sympli Building”,
Dhankheti,
Shillong 793 001,
Meghalaya
Phone: 0364-2503531, 2500495
Email: [email protected]

Tutumoni Lyngdoh
(As above)

Putul Bhuyan
Karbi Anglong Community Resource Management Society [NERCORMP-IFAD]
P.O. Hamrem,
Karbi Anglong,
Assam.
Phone: 03677-230123

1 North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project for Upland Areas (NERCORMP) is a Joint Project of International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD) and the Government of India, Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, North East Council, Shillong, Meghalaya. For more details on the programme, see www.necorps.org

This case study was part of the Directory on Community Conserved Areas (2009), published by Kalpavriksh. The directory can be downloaded here.

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