Strengthening community engagement in priority landscapes | WWF India

Strengthening community engagement in priority landscapes

The success of the conservation work of WWF-India is singularly influenced by the support of local stakeholders, which includes a diverse range of local governance institutions and local community based organizations. In the past WWF-India has worked with local institutions based on specific needs and programme priorities but now it realizes the importance of a longer term and more inclusive engagement with these institutions. This will provide strategic depth to WWF-India’s conservation goals while meeting the aspirations of local communities.

The programme supports WWF-India’s place based work towards strengthening panchayati raj institutions and community-based organizations to play a proactive role and influence local governance of natural resources. Appropriate incentive mechanisms to enable local communities to engage in conservation initiatives will be developed and supported. It will facilitate building effective partnerships with the various stakeholders and leverage government schemes at the local level.

This will help the field teams to build capacities of local institutions to participate effectively in village/district-level planning and preparing village-level plans. Taking cognizance of broader policy-regulatory frameworks to engage more effectively with local governance and administrative machinery, the programme will seek synergy and alignment between WWF conservation goals and the larger conservation and development goals of the state. Research, analysis and establishing effective institutional frameworks will be key for providing support to effectively use existing policies for conservation and community development.

Sustainable resource use and value addition of forest produce

Most of the areas where WWF-India works are remote with no access to employment opportunities for the local communities. Usually the communities have legal rights to extract, use and sell certain forest products but due to limited skills, the returns are very low. This in turn leads to over-extraction of high-value forest resources which is not sustainable in the long term.

Keeping this in mind, WWF-India promotes sustainable livelihoods based on managed resource extraction. This provides incentive to the local communities to conserve the resources and the areas where they are found.

Promoting energy efficiency

Fuelwood is a major source of energy in rural as well as semi-urban settlements across India. Wood, together with dung and other agricultural residue meets 95 per cent of the fuel needs in rural areas. Wood is usually used as domestic fuel in poorer regions with low productivity, while dung and agriculture residue is used in agriculturally prosperous regions with fertile soils and irrigation. Fuelwood extraction not only fulfils household consumption demand but is also an important source of income for poor communities.

WWF-India addresses the problem of unsustainable fuelwood extraction and its related social and environmental impacts through the design and promotion of fuel-efficient stoves, biogas, biomass briquettes among communities where this is acceptable and feasible. In addition, WWF-India is also promoting energy efficiency for commercial fuelwood use like fuel-efficient, lemongrass oil distillation, dhaba digesters and alternative energy sources such as LPG.

Supporting alternative livelihoods

WWF-India is working with communities living around Protected Areas (PAs) where access to and use of forest resources is restricted. To address this, the programme promotes minimum dependence of communities living around PAs, on the natural resources and helping communities in adopting viable alternative sources of income. The livelihoods promoted include medicinal plant cultivation, improved animal husbandry, poultry rearing, carpet-weaving, mushroom-farming, basket-making, organic farming, agro-forestry, fish-farming, floriculture and fodder production.

WWF-India supports community institutions to be able to undertake and manage these initiatives in the long term through capacity development, training, marketing support and institution building. Many of these initiatives have been successful in raising the income of the communities involved while at the same time reducing pressure on forest resources.

Strengthening and building local community institutions

There is an urgent need to evolve mechanisms and incentives through which local communities would be encouraged to conserve forest areas under their control. This is crucial as there are provisions of certain ACTs like Forest Rights Act, Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas Act and government guidelines on joint forest management where communities have been assigned a role in protection and management of resources.

Mainstreaming biodiversity concerns into local-level planning

Capacity-building and awareness creation about the importance of conserving resources, ecosystem services and so forth is essential for ensuring biodiversity conservation. Communities can be empowered to lobby and push for mainstreaming their concerns into local-level planning. Apart from local communities, the local administration, forest department, revenue department and other local NGOs and community-based organizations have to be involved in the process so that there is a convergence of various schemes and an integrated approach which includes biodiversity concerns used for village-level planning.
 
	© WWF-India
© WWF-India
WWF-India currently engages with the communities using a number of strategies and initiatives which can broadly be summarized into five broad areas:
  • Sustainable resource use and value addition of forest produce
  • Promoting energy efficiency
  • Supporting alternative livelihoods
  • Strengthening and building local community institutions
  • Mainstreaming biodiversity concerns into local-level planning

THEMES

WWF-India currently engages with the communities using a number of strategies and initiatives which can broadly be summarized into five broad areas:
- Sustainable resource use and value addition of forest produce
- Promoting energy efficiency
- Supporting alternative livelihoods
- Strengthening and building local community institutions
- Mainstreaming biodiversity concerns into local-level planning
 
	© WWF-India
© WWF-India
 
	© WWF-India
© WWF-India
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