Securing forest rights
About the Implementing organization
Name: Zilla Budkattu Girijana Abhivruddhi Sangha
Year of establishment: 2005
Type of organization: Community-based association or organization / Legally recognized non-profit status / Indigenous group or organization
Reversing decades of social injustice towards tribal communities, the Indian government passed the Forest Rights Act in 2005. The Act required restoration of rights over land and conservation rights to forest-dwelling tribal communities across the country. However, local implementation of this was a challenge as many tribal communities were totally unaware of how to do this. The Sangha took the lead in working with the district administration and the Forest Department in ensuring recognition of land rights of the forest-dwelling tribal communities in the district. Today, all the tribals in the district have received documents related to their land thanks to the Sangha's work. This has received recognition in local and national press as a pioneering effort by a grassroots tribal movement. The rights allow them to not only extract resources sustainably (for their livelihoods) but also the rights and responsibility to conserve natural resources. The Sangha works closely with scientists and researchers to monitor the extraction of non-timber forest produce to ensure that its extraction is sustainable. They also work closely to ensure equitable distribution of the benefits accruing through such extraction through tribal co-operatives.
Type of Action
Sustainable use / Access and benefit sharing
Sustainable Development Element
Jobs and livelihoods / Food security
Extraction of non-timber forest produce, while securing forest rights of tribals and their dignity, can also be potentially harmful to forests and regeneration. Hence, working closely with researchers to ensure this is not the case is very important. In that sense, the Sangha's partnership with researchers is commendable and mitigates potential harmful environmental impacts.
Sustainable Development Impacts
Its principle of equitable sharing of benefits through tribal co-operatives is an important element in ensuring equity. At the same time, the monitoring of extraction is an important effort at ensuring sustainability.
There is an enormous potential for scaling up this effort to other tribal communities in India. However, the local socio-economic and political context is unique and scaling-up efforts need to take this into account. A systematic study by social scientists may help.
As above, replicability potential exists but is not easy without a systematic study of process, outputs and impacts.
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