Padhar Village

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 Location Ecosystem Type   Conservation Type   Area(hectare) Legal status 
 Kullu, Himachal Pradesh Forest Ecosystem Conservation 10 Protected Forest

Case Study (2009)

Background

Padhar village is located about 3 km away from Manali town in Manali taluka of Kullu district, Himachal Pradesh. This Middle Himalayan region is at an altitude of 1850 m and experiences heavy snowfall with sub-zero temperature in the winter months.

A steeply sloping conifer forest surrounds the village with tree species like deodar, khanor, akhrot, bhojpatra or birch, rakhal, rai or spruce, tosh and chir. The legal status of the forest is Demarcated Protected Forest. The Manali Sanctuary falls within 10 km of the conserved area.

The main communities residing in Padhar are the rajputs (higher caste) and the lohars (scheduled castes). The total population of the village is 250, living in 40 households. Horticulture, tourism and service are the main areas of income generation. The total livestock population numbers 52. All the requirements of biomass and about 30 per cent requirement of leaf fodder is met from the forest. The forest has been divided among adjoining villages during the forest settlement done by the government. The rights of all 40 households have been legally codified, thus eliminating any possibilities of conflict amongst neighbours.

In the early 1980s large-scale logging operations were carried out by the forest department in these forests. This was followed by felling of trees for making boxes for transporting apple in the late 80s and later by illegal felling by the timber mafia. In 1995, the region experienced a massive flood that wreaked havoc in the village and destroyed much of the villagers’ property. This was the starting point of the community conservation initiative. The villagers realized that the impact of floods was high because of the degrading forests and decided to protect the forest in order to prevent floods. Women of the mahila mandal (women’s organization) took the lead and together with the yuvak mandal (youth club) started forest protection. Slowly, these two institutions evolved into the gaon (village) committee. The village committee meets quarterly with the active participation of all castes.

Some of the rules followed by villagers include:

1. Complete ban on grazing in the forest

2. Rotational closure for grass

3. Ban on extraction of fuel wood and timber

In order to enforce the rules, the villagers voluntarily patrol the forests. All conflicts are handled according to the traditional system and offenders are fined. Plantations have also been undertaken in some parts with monetary contributions from within the village.

The 10 ha of forest taken under protection has successfully regenerated and there has been no soil erosion or flash floods in the region. The villagers themselves have benefited from the initiative. They now feel more empowered to solve their own problems. They also have a much better availability of natural resources.

Some of the constraints faced by the community because of the conservation initiative are:

1. Women have to move longer distances for collection of fuelwood.

2. Although there is a restriction on grazing, the number of livestock has not reduced, leading to some conflicts.

  This case study has been compiled based on the CCA directory questionnaire answered by Satya Prakash Bambam, who was at the time of writing this case study working with Navrachna based in Palampur. The questionnaire was filled on 13 November 2000. 

Mathura Devi
Village Padhar, PO Bahung
Manali, Kullu 175 131, HP

Satya Prakash Bambam
Post Box 22, Palampur 176061, HP
E-mail: [email protected]

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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