Shanag Village

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 Location Ecosystem Type   Conservation Type   Area(hectare) Legal status 
 Kulu, Himachal Pradesh Forest Ecosystem Conservation 200 Protected Forest

Case Study (2009)

Background

Shanag village is located 3 km from Manali town in Manali taluka of Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh. Buses are available from Manali to reach the village.

The landscape, with an altitude of 2000 m, is typical of the Middle Himalayas. Temperatures drop to sub-zero levels during winter, accompanied by heavy snowfall. The ecosystem can be described as a steeply sloping conifer forest with species like deodar, khanor, akhrot, bhojpatra or birch, rakhal, rai or spruce and tosh. The region is rich in fauna like the brown bear, Himalayan black bear, leopard, barking deer, musk deer, Himalayan monal, Koklass pheasant, kalij pheasant and the Western tragopan. The Manali Sanctuary lies within 10 km of the community-conserved area. The legal status of the land is demarcated protected forest.

The total population of the village is 600, with two main communities; rajputs and dagis (scheduled caste). The primary occupations are horticulture and tourism-related. Some villagers also derive income from jobs. The total livestock population is 680. The forest is mainly used for grazing by 200 cattle (for 6 months), 400 sheep/goats (for 6 months) and 150 migratory buffaloes (for 4 months). All the requirements of fuelwood, timber, biomass and 30 per cent of the requirement of leaf fodder for the 121 households is also met from the forest. The villagers have legal rights (codified during forest settlement) to biomass, fodder, fuelwood and timber in the forest.

In the early 80s, large-scale logging operations were carried out in the forest by the Forest Department. This was followed by tree felling for making boxes for transporting apples in the late 80s, and later by illegal felling by the timber mafia. In 1995, there was a considerable reduction in snowfall in the region. Snowfall is considered to be good for the apple crop. This coincided with the environmental propaganda of the state linking snowfall to better forest cover and the realisation by the villagers that forest cover is good for the tourist trade. These factors persuaded the local community to protect its forest. Yet another reason was to stop the illegal felling of trees that was the major cause of destruction of the forest.

The gaon (village) committee took charge of 200 ha of forest for protection and formulated the following rules and regulations:

1. Closure for rotational grazing.

2. Quantitative restrictions on grass-fodder extraction which was now restricted to one bundle per household per day after the designated opening of the forest.

3. No hunting permitted in the forest.

4. No sale of fuelwood and fodder allowed.

5. Voluntary monitoring and enforcement responsibilities taken up by the villagers.

6. Taxes are imposed on migratory graziers.

The rule-breakers are fined. Initially, the scheduled castes were not allowed to participate in decision making. However, access was equalized later for the scheduled castes after negotiations within the village. This happened due to mediation by the woman pradhan of the panchayat, Vidya Devi. The gaon committee has a seven-member executive committee, which meets quarterly. Disputes and conflicts are resolved in the traditional manner within the community itself. Panchayat support has been critical in resolving internal conflict and increasing inter-caste equity. The government is indifferent to the conservation efforts of the people. All finances required for the effort are met through voluntary contributions.

The villagers have benefited from the conservation because of the increased access to resources

  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.

Vidya Devi
Village Shanag, 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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