Mangaon Village

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 Location Ecosystem Type   Conservation Type   Area(hectare) Legal status 
 Pune, Maharashtra Forest Sacred Grove 18 Reserved Forest

Case Study (2009)

Background

Mangaon village is located in Velhe Taluka of Pune District, Maharashtra. This village is remotely situated in the catchment area of the Panshet reservoir along the Western Ghats. At a distance of 70 km from Pune city, the village can be approached by the state transport buses till Panshet (30 km) and by launch there onwards. In the monsoons, this village gets water-locked on all sides and is inaccessible by road. This area receives a total annual rainfall of approximately 5000 mm. Temperatures range from a low of 9°C in winter to a maximum of 40°C in summer. The village is surrounded by the Western Ghats on one side and the backwaters of Panshet Reservoir on the other. This is mainly a forest ecosystem situated on the crestline of the Western Ghats. The forest under protection is a sacred grove that is revered by the villagers of Mangaon since times immemorial. There are still many sacred groves and protected patches of Reserve Forest along the Western Ghats of Maharashtra (northern Sahyadris), which form a corridor between Bhimashankar and Koyna wildlife sanctuaries in Maharashtra.

The area of the sacred grove is 18 ha and is legally a reserved forest (RF) under the jurisdiction of the forest department. The main communities residing in Mangaon are the marathas, dhangars, donger kolis and mahadeo kolis. The total population of the village is 450. The main source of income is agriculture. The total livestock population is approximately 150. Many from the younger generation migrate to cities like Mumbai and Pune in search of employment. Villagers occasionally extract fuelwood and other forest products from the sacred grove. However, the percentage is negligible and does not greatly affect the ecosystem. The villagers also derive income from the sale of bamboo planted around their houses. This bamboo is sold to the contractors who collect bamboo from the entire village and from neighbouring villages. Wood of narkya and amruta is similarly collected and sold in a market at Bhor.

People have been conserving the grove since time immemorial. There are no written records of the time for which this grove has been protected, but villagers maintain that their ancestors have been protecting it for at least 600 years. People seldom collect fuelwood from the sacred grove. Collection from the grove is largely restricted to dead and dried wood that has fallen down. No trees are felled in the grove. Non-timber forest produce such as garbi, hirda, beheda and shikekai are collected occasionally. There is a bhagat (religious caretaker) appointed to look after the temple inside the sacred grove. He belongs to the Mahadev Koli tribe. He is responsible for performing regular rituals for the deity. The responsibility of protecting the grove lies with the entire village and there is no specific body to manage it. An annual festival of the deity is celebrated by the surrounding villages. Contributions for the celebrations are collected and the bhagat is paid a salary from this money. The government has not been directly involved with the management, nor does it have any known management plans for the area.

In the landscape of Panshet catchment, Mangaon sacred grove stands out. Trees with large girth and huge lianas such as Entada, Diploclasia glaucescens and kadu karanda have made the canopy virtually impermeable to the ground.

  This case study has been compiled based on a questionnaire answered by Sambhaji Jagtap of Mangaon on 1 May 2001. 

Sambhaji Jagtap
Datta Nivegune, Village Mangaon
Taluka Velhe, District Pune, Maharashtra

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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