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As one traverses the length and breadth of India, one often comes across the co-existence of humans and wildlife, even in the midst of ecological degradation and fast pace globalization. These include a huge diversity of ecological systems and species of plants and animals living therein, which are being protected for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, a wide range of traditional and new systems are used to achieve such conservation. Such sites are important for their conservation value and play a crucial role in ensuring local livelihoods. We refer to these as Community Conserved Areas (CCAs). The definition that we have adopted for CCAs is given below:
“Natural ecosystems (forest/marine/wetlands/grasslands/others), including those with minimum to substantial human influence, containing significant wildlife and biodiversity value, being conserved by communities for cultural, religious, livelihood, or political purposes, using customary laws or other effective means.”
Understanding CCAs is important as it could provide solutions to a number of conservation related issues faced in the country today. However, CCAs remain invisible to society, are facing many internal and external pressures, are ignored in government conservation policies, and some are on the verge of breaking down. Recognizing and supporting these efforts, and creating an environment to facilitate their spread, has the potential to start a conservation mass movement in the country.
Kalpavriksh has been working towards this cause since the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the discourse on CCAs in India had gained momentum. In the last two decades Kalpavriksh’s work on CCAs in India has focused on research, documentation, advocacy, facilitating visibility and awareness about CCAs, facilitating dialogues on CCAs and engaging with CCAs on ground to provide any need based assistance.
Through our Research and Documentation activities, in India and CCAs in South Asia, we hope to bridge gap in information about CCAs. Gaining understanding on where do CCAs exist, why do they exist, how they start, what are their local institutions, what have they achieved, what threatens them and how best can they be supported in India and internationally are some of the objectives of such research and documentation. Additionally we hope that this will facilitate an exchange of information among community members, and other working with them.
About 140 case studies on community conserved Areas have been published as the Directory of Community Conserved Areas in India. We continue to share emerging information through a newsletter, People in Conservation, published in Hindi and English.
CCAs are not a phenomenon only in India, such examples are found all across the world and are embedded in many cultures. South Asia, in particular, is rich in its cultural diversity and has been home to many ancient civilizations. There are numerous examples of CCAs in countries like Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Globally CCAs are known as ICCAs or Territories and Areas Conserved by Indigenous People and Local Communities. ICCAs have gained international interest for their significance in the big conservation picture. Thanks to the efforts of a network of a large number of individuals and ...
Kalpavriksh collaborated in a study coordinated by Natural Justice, on behalf of the ICCA Consortium, to produce a global study on international and national laws relating to ICCAs. The publication contains a global overview of legal spaces available for ICCAs, 15 country level case...
Decentralisation of decision-making at all levels is crucial in supporting CCAs, however an important ingredient for decision-making is availability of information and possibilities for cross fertilization of idea and information. One important way of constantly making such information available at all levels and understanding the implications of legal prescriptions or ground actions, is constant discussions and dialogues.
Supported by UNDP Small Grants Programme, Kalpavriksh has been organizing consultations among multiple CCA actors in India and other South Asian countries along with national or regional partners. Each of these workshops focused on reviewing and updating the status of knowledge on CCAs, sharing experiences of successes and failures, threats and opportunities, and consolidating proposals for future joint action. Find the consolidated report here.
Kalpavriksh believes in long term relationship with communities and civil society groups that we engage with. These are our sources of inspiration, who have not only helped us deepen our understanding about participatory and community conservation and its links with local livelihoods but have also helped us refine our own institutional functioning and decision-making processes. We value our friendship and relationship with these communities and groups associated with them. Kalpavriksh is obligated to provide any need based assistance to them as and when sought, either directly or through other agencies which may be more appropriate for a particular need. Such help includes, effective ways of dealing with human wildlife conflicts, helping in documentation, facilitating dialogues among local actors, suggestions on appropriate sources of funding, appropriate schemes for achieving livelihoods, implementation of appropriate laws, carrying out investigations on the local request, facilitating exchange visits to other sites, developing links with others, facilitating members from these communities participating in national/international policy dialogues and so on.
Globally CCAs are known as ICCAs or Territories and Areas Conserved by Indigenous People and Local Communities. ICCAs have gained international interest for their significance in the big conservation picture. Thanks to the efforts of a network of a large number of individuals and organizations across the globe called TILCEPA, the Fifth World Parks Congress, organised by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in September 2003 in Durban, South Africa, recognized ICCAs as a valid model for conservation. The Seventh Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), held in Kuala Lumpur in February 2004, as also recognized ICCAs and had governments all over the world committing to move towards participatory conservation with the recognition of community rights. CBD’s Programme of Work on Protected Areas explicitly (PoWPA) mandates countries to recognize ICCAs, and integrate them into national protected area systems. (www.biodiv.org/meetings/cop-07/default.asp). To read more on conservation efforts of the communities all over the world and other related information see (http://www.iccaforum.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=84&Itemid=100).
Kalpavriksh is a founding member of the ICCA Consortium (International Consortium on ICCAs) which is involved in international and national support activities towards ICCAs. The increased international recognition has encouraged World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which maintains a database of all the protected areas across the world, to maintain a database of ICCAs (www.ICCAregistry.org).
After the pioneering documentation of CCAs in 2009, Kalpavriksh coordinated, on behalf of the ICCA Consortium, a global study of ICCA recognition and support of territories and areas conserved by indigenous people and local communities. This was published by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity as its Technical Series 64 and includes 19 Country Level case studies, a global overview, and various resource materials.