The Promise of a Sanghatan – How the Van Gujjars of Kunao Chaur is setting an example of coexistence, conservation and sustainable grassland management

Van Gujjar Tribal Yuva Sanghatan
Published: 07 July 2022
Last edited: 07 July 2022
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The present case study is prepared by the Van Gujjar Tribal Yuva Sanghatan (Hereinafter, Sanghatan) to highlight the measures undertaken by the Van Gujjar pastoralists engaging in breed conservation of the indigenous Gojri buffalo and protecting its pastoral landscape. The Sanghatan has chosen Kunaon Chaur, a grassland within Gohri range, Pauri Garhwal district, as a model site to throw light on how they utilize common property resources and contribute towards sustainable pasture land development. The recognition for the work of the Sanghatan in this landscape will encourage it to develop similar practices in other regions with Van Gujjars and the Gojri breed therein. The Sanghatan hopes its efforts on facilitating claims under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 and sustained conservation initiatives will bring positive reward in the near future.


South Asia
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Grassland ecosystems
Temperate deciduous forest
Temperate grassland, savanna, shrubland
Tropical deciduous forest
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Ecosystem services
Erosion prevention
Fire management
Flood management
Food security
Forest Management
Genetic diversity
Geodiversity and Geoconservation
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Indigenous people
Invasive alien species
Land management
Legal & policy frameworks
Not listed
Protected and conserved areas governance
Protected and conserved areas management planning
Species management
Sustainable livelihoods
Traditional knowledge
Watershed management
Extreme heat
Glacial retreat
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Shift of seasons
Ecosystem loss
Inefficient management of financial resources
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Changes in socio-cultural context
Lack of technical capacity
Poor governance and participation
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 4 – Quality education
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions
Aichi targets
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 9: Invasive alien species prevented and controlled
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
Target 13: Safeguarding genetic diversity
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources
Business engagement approach
Indirect through legal actors


Rajaji National Park, Yamkeshwar, Uttarakhand, India | Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag and Bijnore districts


The primary challenge is the insecurity of community as well as individual land tenure pushing the Van Gujjars towards abandoning their pastoral livelihood and preferring a settled life. It is imperative that the traditional ecological knowledge is perpetuated to future generations to recognize their multiple uses in day-to-day life within forests. The challenge for the maintenance of the ecosystem, threatened by plantations of the Forest department and invasive species such as Lantana, requires sustained efforts from the Sanghatan. The Sanghatan is keen to inculcate cultural, ecological and community-driven initiatives to ensure the subsequent generations lead a sustainable life. It is hopeful that this activity of the Sanghatan will be incentivized by the Forest Department to ensure better management of the common pastures. 


The primary beneficiaries of the sustainable land management programme are the Van Gujjars of Kunao Chaur and their livestock, along with wildlife, flora and policies of the Forest Department on silviculture and forest fire.


How do the building blocks interact?

The building blocks of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, sustainable pastoralism, traditional knowledge recognition, breed development and ecosystem restoration provide a multidimensional habitat management strategy towards an equitable land and pasture management solution


The activities of the Sanghatan have had a notable impact on the ecosystem and legal consciousness amongst the Van Gujjars. It has also helped in enhancing effective grassland management within Kunaon chaur through initiatives such as Saila Parv that ensure forest diversity. Their migratory and grazing patterns have enabled long-term viability for the ecosystem to flourish alongside wildlife. Their traditional and cultural knowledge is an added asset to efforts of conservation of habitats by national and international agencies. It is hopeful that the adoption of eco-literacy models will enhance sustainable new livelihoods whilst preserving the ecological benefits from continued transhuman pastoralism.


Van Gujjar Tribal Yuva Sanghatan

The Van Gujjars of Kunaon Chaud have developed specialized knowledge of local grasses and herbal remedies within the landscape. The role of women amongst the community with respect to possessing common knowledge of these herbal remedies for their livestock is worth mentioning. The indigenous curative system is used by the community when the characteristics of the following livestock diseases becomes evident like Khurpaka (Foot and mouth disease), Galghontu (Haemorrhagic septicaemia), Nakada/thanela (mastitis), Taku (epifemoral fever), Rinderpest and Surra. The diagnosis of these illnesses and the preparation of such indigenous prescriptions in which concoctions of roots and tubers, as well as a mixture of ash and whey, are administered to the afflicted animal. Apart from this several locals from the Chaur are aware of the illnesses caused by the consumption of poisonous weeds like Lantana, Cassia tora, Parthenium histerophorous, etc. These remedies are administered either in crushed or paste form, decoction, infusion, powder through nasal, ocular and ophthalmic routes. It is mixed with jaggery, bhusa (wheat husk) or fodder to remove the bitterness. The Van Gujjars knew the diagnosis of several illnesses and prepared the following herbal concoctions for lockjaw, cuts and wounds, abscess, dyspepsia and stomach ache by mixing natural ingredients such as alum, calcium carbonate, black pepper, ajwain and other local spices. The Maai is the expert with respect to such knowledge. Some of the herbal remedies which the Maai relies upon amidst the grassland include the lopping of trees such as Gutel, Beheda, Sein, Rehni, and Bakli. 

Contributed by

vangujjartribalyuvasanghatan_40593's picture

Mohammed Meer Hamja Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute