Generally, informal village committees are responsible for forest management. In a few cases, either the sahi committee (committee of a particular caste) on its own, or together with the informal committees, manages the forests. For example, in Birikhunti, a sahi known as Nuasahi has a separate patch of forest, which is managed by the Nuasahi Committee, while the other patch is managed by the informal committee for the rest of the village.
The informal committees in Mahapada have become defunct after a series of conflicts. Presently four sahi committees are managing their individual patches of forest. Generally, the informal village committees and sahi committees together manage the village ponds, temple, village common agricultural land and schools. However, in Vejibolua (a hamlet of Mahapada), villagers formed a forest protection committee in 1972 exclusively for the management of the forest. Now this committee is also taking up other developmental activities.
In the cases of Birikhunti, Chattia and Nathua, the informal committees have merged with village developmental committees to avoid duplication of committees.
Generally, an informal forest protection committee consists of a general body, an executive body and office-bearers. The general body has representatives from each household of the respective village. The sahi committees are generally caste-homogeneous, though sometimes a few families of different castes may also stay in a sahi and participate in the sahi committee. Normally the office bearers belong to the dominant caste, except in Bhatkatni, where the secretary of Saurasahi is a Brahmin. Sahi committees function in a more informal manner compared to the village committees.
The tenure of committees is normally not fixed except in Nathua (three years) and Bhatkatni (one year). The general body, if not satisfied with the functioning, can change the executive body and the office-bearers at any time.
Meetings of the committee are normally arranged as per the requirements except in Vejibolua, where the committee meets every month. The working of village committees and informal forest protection committees is more systematic than sahi committees. Normally the minutes of the meetings of village committees are recorded and signed by the members present. Every committee has funds under its control, which is kept with the secretary or the treasurer, except at Atinda where it is kept in a bank. All accounts are kept open to villagers and are presented at the annual general body meeting.
The working of informal forest protection committee of Veijibolua is highly systematic and at every meeting all details of participation, accounts and activities are recorded.
In addition to the informal forest management systems mentioned above, the forest department has also constituted official forest protection committees (FPCs) under a Government Resolution of 1988. As per available information, Rupabalia RF has been allotted to ten villages. All revenue villages, except Chattia, which are managing Rupabalia for the last few years have been included in these ten villages. In addition, five villages which are not among the villages informally protecting the forests (some are not even close to these forests) have also been included. Except in Nathua and Birikhunti villages, the villagers are not even aware of the existence of such a formal committee. In Nathua, since the Sarpanch is also the head of the formal committee, the formal committee is functioning in the village.