Resilient rural livelihoods through eco-restoration and sustainable natural resources management

Published: 15 May 2017
Last edited: 09 July 2019
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Forest degradation, loss of biodiversity, declining agricultural productivity and soil erosion, exacerbated through climate variability and change threaten natural resource dependent communities in Mandla district. The project pursues an integrated approach of eco-restoration, sustainable forest management and agriculture, combining ecosystem-based measures (forest restoration, agroforestry) with technical measures (e.g. stone bunds, seed replacement, improved farming techniques).


South Asia
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Tropical deciduous forest
Ecosystem services
Erosion prevention
Forest Management
Indigenous people
Erratic rainfall
Increasing temperatures
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Poor governance and participation
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 7 – Affordable and clean energy
SDG 13 – Climate action
Aichi targets
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Sendai Framework
Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030


Mandla, Madhya Pradesh, India


Indigenous communities in Mandla district depend heavily on small-scale rain-fed farming and on different non-timber forest produce for their livelihoods. The forest provides fuel wood, fruits, fodder for livestock, housing material and medicine.

Recent changes in rainfall patterns and temperature have had heavy impacts on agriculture. The yields of maize and paddy for example have gone down. Certain traditional resilient millet varieties have vanished due to farmers switching to more commercial crops like paddy and maize. Forest degradation aggravates the impacts of erratic rainfall; more and more fertile soil is washed away because the protective tree and grass cover vanishes. One major reason for forest degradation and overuse of natural resources is weak village institutions. These institutions govern the behaviour of communities over common property resources and thus play an important role in the local management of natural resources.


Institution strengthening: 1,643 indigenous families of the Gond and Baigas tribes (5,775 individuals)

Sustainable forest and agriculture management: 553 indigenous families of the Gond and Baigas tribes (1,968 individuals)

How do the building blocks interact?

An initial situation analysis and vulnerability assessment (Building Block 1) prepared the ground for the interventions at village level. On the organisational level, strengthening Village Institutions (Building Block 2) was identified as key to enabling villagers in actively managing their natural resources for climate change adaptation. In addition, a variety of measures for eco-restoration and sustainable natural resources management such as agroforestry or forest restoration (Building Block 3) was implemented.


Village institutions actively manage and conserve over 500 hectares of forest in the project region by overseeing the sustainable use of natural resources. A comparison with a forest that is not managed by a community indicates that a community managed forest shows 60 per cent more regeneration, 37 per cent more plant density and a 40 per cent higher number of plant species.

In the upcoming years the implemented agro-forestry interventions on forest fringes will further support the stabilisation of the ecosystem and hence ensure that the beneficiaries have diversified livelihood sources

Stone exits and stone bunds have improved soil conservation: Within one year, a total of 37,319 cubic metres of soil was saved from being washed away. More than half of the beneficiaries have improved their yields and managed to shift to growing two instead of only one crop within one growing season. Their annual average income increased by up to 40 per cent as compared to farmers working without stone exits and bunds

Improved farming techniques resulted in a 19 per cent productivity increase of millet and maize, and a 30 per cent productivity increase of paddy. This led to an average income increase of up to 20 per cent and resulted in decreasing sensitivity to climate variability and change.

FES has recently scaled up the interventions in ProSoil project supported by GIZ.



We started community-based forest conservation around our village one year ago. Until today, we have managed to protect around 200 hectares of forest. FES and GIZ helped us to understand the importance of having rules and regulations for managing forests and to come up with our own rules in order to use our natural resources in a better way than in the past. The rules are to control lopping and logging of trees, to set limits for harvesting non-timber forest produce and to regulate an equitable sharing of resources amongst villagers. We have also successfully established boundaries in three forest blocks. In one of the blocks resource use is completely prohibited now. Four volunteers from our village monitor the forest blocks daily. This way, we assist the state forest department in its forest protection efforts. Unlike in the past, today we feel like we have a real say when it comes to managing our forest and our resources. The rules that our committee set are strictly followed by most villagers.

Shital Singh Dhumketi, 48 years Farmer and president of the Natural Resource Management Committee in Payalibahur village, Madhya Pradesh

Contributed by

somya.bhatt_27319's picture

Somya Bhatt Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

Other contributors

Indo-German development project Climate Change Adaptation in Rural Areas of India (CCA RAI), GIZ
Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)