Community stewardship for conservation in Western Arunachal Landscape,India

WWF-India
Published: 30 March 2016
Last edited: 02 October 2020
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Summary

Community Conserved Areas (CCAs) formed with the help of WWF India in Arunachal Pradesh have helped local communities to better manage forests. Factors such as excessive use of forest resources and setting up of large infrastructure projects have led to forest loss across the region. CCA have helped reverse this trend with local communities setting aside large portions of the forest as conserved area and managing these areas for conservation and sustainable livelihood purposes.

Classifications

Region
South Asia
Scale of implementation
Subnational
Ecosystem
Forest ecosystems
Temperate deciduous forest
Theme
Access and benefit sharing
Culture
Ecosystem services
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Indigenous people
Local actors
Outreach & communications
Tourism
Watershed management
Challenges
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Infrastructure development
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Physical resource extraction
Changes in socio-cultural context
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor governance and participation

Location

Western Arunachal Landscape, Arunachal Pradesh, India

Challenges

forest loss/ degradation, hunting, large-scale infrastructure developments Two-third of forest cover of the state falls outside PAs and de-facto remains under control of local communities. It harbours an assemblage of wildlife including threatened species. Traditional forest management practices are gradually eroding leading to unsustainable harvest of forests further compounded by development of large-scale infrastructure projects resulting in biodiversity loss.

Beneficiaries

Local communities (Monpa, Shertukpen), 14 villages, ~400 households

How do the building blocks interact?

Recognizing the fact that large tracts of the forest are under community jurisdiction and are continuously being affected by forest loss and degradation, a community-based approach to arrest the loss of forests, associated biodiversity and linked livelihoods was envisaged. Key to ensure that a community based initiative becomes successful was the recognition that the process is democratic, participatory and inclusive in nature. A necessary and desirable outcome of this is a sense of ownership across the community. Institution building is key to sustaining the processes leading to forest and biodiversity protection. Given growing aspirations of local communities, especially youth, the need for incentivizing conservation through sustainable livelihood options including community based tourism is crucial. The entire community-based conservation process and finally, putting up a management plan through participatory approach helps long-term conservation of forests under community jurisdiction.

Impacts

1. The CCA maintain ecosystem services while securing key wildlife habitats (the CCA covers significant habitat of red panda, Himalayan goral, serow, mishmi takin, marbled cat and contains high altitude lakes). Since 2007, community members have voluntarily declared four CCAs, which together cover an area of roughly 1,000 km2 of forests. 2. The CCA model and approach has been successfully endorsed by the government of Arunachal Pradesh. Collaboration with developmental agencies including line departments at district, state and national levels have been integral part of this effort. Apart from substantial support that this project received from the state, one of the CCA management committees now receives an independent three-year long grant ($ 40,000) from the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India to strengthen its work. 3. The Community-based Tourism (CBT) initiative in Thembang, one of the CCAs, is now in its seventh year with revenues increasing four-fold since inception, amounting to $ 23,000 as of March 31, 2015.

Story

Changing attitude towards conservation: The community-based conservation model has had an organic growth over last one decade. Today, there are roughly 1,000 sq km of pristine forests fall under this management regime where community decides management rules and implements protocols on sustainable resource harvesting practices. These changes have come throughout the years of rigorous and regular engagement with the local community. “We have been working very hard to conserve the red panda, the black-necked crane and to preserve forests for our future generation” said Rinchin Wangdi, one of the executive members of Pangchen Lakhar CCA management committee while attending an award function held recently. “The award is a prize but we will also take this as a responsibility to perform better” he added. This positive attitude of the community has come over the period of time with successful implementation of CCA processes and with due recognition and appreciation. This positive vibes reflect in other villages too. Recently, the Socktsen village, one of the villages of the valley, came forward to declare some of their pristine forest as CCA. The villagers decided to undertake this conservation initiative after experiencing the model of their neighbouring villages. Ironically, this is the same village that has refused to take part of the conservation initiative way back 2011 with a suspicion notion that this will lead to alienation of their rights over natural resources and forests. Of late, this has been clarified, understood and finally, the villagers decided to declare their own conserved area and set up a management committee. This is the tip of the iceberg and there are many instances of how the people have shown their positive attitude towards conservation in the landscape. “We have been sighting red panda since our childhood but barely had any special feeling about it. If someone would have hunted a red panda before, it would least bother me. But, today, my perspective on red panda is changed, I feel pride and concern about them and of course, I will not let anyone hunt or let hurt them” Lham Tsering expressed his feeling about the red panda in one of our field conversations. Lham Tsering is one of the local community members undertaking red panda survey in Zemithang valley in a couple of years now. This model has already touched few hearts however there is a long way to go to make really a difference.

Contributed by

Kamal Medhi World Wide Fund for Nature - India

Other contributors

WWF India
Jaya Upadhyay
Pema Wange
Rajarshi Chakraborty