Strengthening community conservation in a biodiversity hotspot PATHFINDER AWARD 2021 WINNER

Siddharth Edake
Published: 15 July 2021
Last edited: 12 January 2022
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A pilot scale project was initiated in the 3 villages of Sukhai, Kivikhu & Ghukhuyi in Nagaland, which aimed at creating & linking Community Conserved Areas (CCAs) across the landscape & supporting conservation through livelihood creation. The model adopted aimed at strengthening the resilience of the communities by rejuvenating traditional conservation practices & providing supplementary livelihoods. Activities included compiling Indigenous Knowledge, sensitization on landscape conservation & capacity building of the communities in biodiversity documentation & monitoring, as well as promoting ecotourism as a livelihood option. Today, the project has yielded +ve results in terms of sustainable use of biological resources by adopting longterm sustainability, enhanced governance & effective conservation of landscape. This model is being mainstreamed within the governance mechanism & upscaled through a multipronged approach including financial support & legal recognition.


Southeast Asia
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Freshwater ecosystems
River, stream
Tropical evergreen forest
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Disaster risk reduction
Ecosystem services
Erosion prevention
Food security
Gender mainstreaming
Genetic diversity
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Indigenous people
Land management
Local actors
Outreach & communications
Protected and conserved areas governance
Protected and conserved areas management planning
Science and research
Species management
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Traditional knowledge
Watershed management
Erratic rainfall
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Shift of seasons
Ecosystem loss
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Inefficient management of financial resources
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Physical resource extraction
Changes in socio-cultural context
Lack of technical capacity
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 14 – Life below water
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 3: Incentives reformed
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
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 12: Reducing risk of extinction
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


Zunheboto, Nagaland, India


In Nagaland, though traditional conservation practices have helped protect biodiversity, and there are records of  CCAs being declared in the early 1800s, especially in response to forest degradation and loss of wildlife, these CCAs face numerous challenges in their creation, effectiveness and sustainability and require sustained efforts for their conservation. The foremost challenge faced by 81% of CCAs is providing alternative livelihoods. Morever, these CCAs are isolated dense patches of forests and there is a need to ensure conservation of large contiguous forest areas by enabling the formation of jointly managed CCA.  


The primary beneficiaries of the project consist of community and community institutions (Village Councils, Biodiversity Management Committees, CCA Committees, hunters, church groups, youth and women. 

How do the building blocks interact?

The local champions manage to motivate the communities to initiate as well as continue the conservation related activities . The documentation of local biodiversity through People's Biodiversity Registers helps to codify the oral knowledge as well as know more about the bidoiversity. Alternate livelihood in form of ecotourism helps the the youth, women’s groups and the traditional hunters of the community to enhance their household income.


Around 222 species of birds, 200 species of butterflies have been documented and protected by declaring 939 hectares as community conservation reserve and banning hunting and destructive fishing across the remaining landscape of forests and rivers (total area being 3751 hectares). 

The direct beneficiaries so far have been 1200 individuals from 3 villages while number of indirect beneficiaries that have been sensitized through various tools is approximately 10000 individuals.

The communities reported increases in the protection of natural resources after the formation of jointly managed CCAs, and improvement in management of common resources.

The elders were satisfied with the documentation of their traditional and cultural indigenous knowledge in the People’s Biodiversity Register while the women, youth & hunter groups reported increases in their household income due to ecotourism by $260 per household per year.

Neighboring 7 villages that share their forests & natural resources with the current three pilot villages have approached TERI to be a part of the CCA network and replicate the conservation related activities in their respective CCAs as well.


Siddharth Edake

Along with my colleagues and community members, I used to regularly visit the villages to document the biodiversity of area. During one of my visit’s, I was on a mission to track and find the Hodgson’s frogmouth (Batrachostomus hodgsoni), a nocturnal bird species usually found near Tizu river. But after reaching the river, we found several people partying on the river bank. The villagers in our team explained that the river bank is a famous party spot for nearby villages. They still decided to check for known faces in the crowd and if any illicit activity was being carried out. To my surprise they had found fishing gear, which included battery, based fishing equipment. They showed us dead fish in the bucket and a jar full of beetles collected from the riverbank. This clearly indicated a case of illegal fishing and hunting in the conserved area. The offenders were asked to be present in the village the next day so that a legal notice (summons) could be issued to them explaining what they had violated and the amount they had to pay as fine. This act put forth by the communities of Nagaland made me realise the sincerity and efforts that some of the community members are ready to put in towards conservation of nature.

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Siddharth Edake The Energy and Resources Institute