Environmental governance

Sustainable management of forest resources

Soligas and Lingayats are the two important forest-dependent communities in MM Hills. Their dependency over forest resources varies based on their land holding status, socio-economic condition, income sources etc. Both communities collect non-timber forest products (NTFP. See related reading: Building community ownership for sustainable harvest and co-management of forest resources) such as amla (Indian Gooseberry), broom grass (Phoenix) and magaliberu (Decalepishamiltonii), antwala (Sapindusemarginatus), sikkakai (Acacia concinna) and tamarind (Tamarindusindicus). Forest villagers are also dependent on the forest for water and fuel-wood. ATREE has collected baseline information on NTFP incomes of four villages in MM hills. It provides a view on key NTFP collection areas as well as the key NTFPs collected in these areas. ATREE works with villages falling in Komudikki-Kokkubare cluster (important NTFP collection area) towards sustainable use of NTFPs by creating value addition and market linkages for the NTFPs.

RFRA and environmental governance

One of the CCC objectives is to have communities participate and be involved in forest and resource governance. ATREE believes that effective natural resource governance requires decentralization at the local level, and without rights vested with communities, no governance can be effectively achieved. The recent legislation - The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights Act), 2006 (RFRA) recognizing and granting individual and community rights to tribal people and other traditional forest dwellers, has provided the legal/policy space to locate efforts at strengthening collaborative management of the resource landscapes.

ATREE works with the lowest tier of self-governance - the Gram Sabha to facilitate the implementation of the Recognition of Forest Rights Act. RFRA acknowledges the rights of forest and forest dwelling communities over tenure and management of forest resources, and mandates the Gram Sabha for the implementation of the Act. The most basic requirement for this, which ATREE is helping move forward, is the presence of village level committees and Forest Management Committee (FMC) to administrate the collection and disposal of forest resources in a sustainable way. It is expected that the FMC will provide inputs regarding NTFP value addition, market for the products, and links with mainstream buyers.

Related reading

Rights, governance and conservation