Learning From and Carrying Forward CFR Management Planning in Central India, Study tour to Pachgaon (Amravati district, Maharashtra), a CFR success story
Ananya Rao (with help from Venkat Ramanujam, Anubhav Shori, and Sharachchandra Lele)
How does Community Forest Resource (CFR) management work on the ground? What can we learn from the decade-long history of such management by villages in Maharashtra to build capacities elsewhere? Our CFR-Central India team’s research, observations and interactions with communities and CSOs in Maharashtra has helped us gain an understanding which we are now deploying in training programmes on CFR management planning in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, where CFR titles are just now being given.
Study tour to Pachgaon (Amravati district, Maharashtra), a CFR success story
Our team of 18 FRA Coordinators (a team mainly composed of Adivasi youth, including women) has been working over the past 5 months in Bastar district to initiate the CFR rights claim-making process in many villages. The next step was to train them in how to create good CFR management plans. Perhaps the best way to learn is to see a success story yourself. In this spirit, we organised an exposure visit to Pachgaon village, in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra between March 5th-6th, 2022. Sharachchandra Lele (Project Lead) coordinated the visit along with Anubhav Shori (District Coordinator) and Tulsi Thakur (honorary Master Trainer). Post-docs Atul Joshi and Shruti Mokashi joined us there from their field sites in Yavatmal.
Pachgaon Gram Sabha (village general body) received CFR rights for 1,006 hectares of forest land in June 2012. Since then, the village has engaged in a highly democratic process of forest protection and bamboo harvesting and sale for livelihood enhancement. Our study tour included an evening meeting with the Pachgaon Gram Sabha and a half-day excursion into their forest to observe their practices of bamboo harvesting and conservation (including their sacred grove), followed by a detailed discussion and record perusal with volunteers Sanjeev and Vikas.
Villagers working in the forest explained their method of harvest which is guided by a set of rules that ensure bamboo quality (only 3 year old bamboo) and sustainability (only 1/4th of the area is harvested and a minimum number of mature bamboos are left unharvested in each culm), as well as equitable sharing of the livelihood opportunity (by limiting how much each person may harvest per day). The entire process of harvest, auction, transport, and sale of bamboo and all associated record-keeping and accounting is handled entirely by the villagers, which has resulted in increased incomes and empowerment. Dispersed authority and transparency ensures accountability to the Gram Sabha.