People and Protected Areas

Approximately 4.88 per cent of the country’s total geographical area has been categorized as a Protected Area (PA). Protected Areas in India have been declared with the primary objective of biodiversity conservation and often exclude  resource extraction and use by local communities.

Currently, there are a few direct benefits  of PAs that accrue to local communities and  the cost of conservation is primarily borne by these communities (e.g. depredation of crops and livestock by wild animals, death and/or injury to humans by wild animals, opportunity costs from denied access to use of resources within PAs, etc.). This does lead to opposition from local communities for PAs and often leads to conflict between local communities and PA managers.
However, there is a strong recognition today that PAs provide a wide range of social, environmental and economic benefits to people and communities worldwide. They are crucial for addressing current challenges like  food and water security, human health and well-being, disaster risk reduction and climate change. It is however important that we also enhance diversity, quality and vitality in governance and management mechanisms of these PAs, make it more inclusive, pro poor and accountable. We also need to promote sustainable land-uses around PAs and reduce activities that degrade, threaten or result in the loss of ecosystems and their biodiversity.

WWF-India has been collaborating with Science for Equity Empowerment and Development Division (SEED) of Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India to coordinate a network programme titled  ‘People and Protected Areas: Conservation and Sustainable Livelihood in Partnership with Local Communities’ 

The programme aims to demonstrate that local/tribal communities and PAs can co-exist  and also  ensure mutual benefits by promoting site specific interventions and use of low cost viable technologies for livelihood augmentation as well as conservation of natural resources.   This initiative supports the efforts of local and grassroots NGOs promoting innovative mechanisms to enhance local livelihoods for communities living in and around PAs.
The main objectives of the programme are to:
  • Demonstrate innovative approaches and mechanisms based on appropriate technological inputs that enhance sustainable local livelihoods for local and indigenous communities living around PAs across the country.
  • Provide site specific energy solutions by using appropriate technology to reduce biotic pressures.
  • Develop an understanding of human wildlife conflict issues at selected sites and pilot mitigation measures.
  • Support and build capacity of NGOs and CBOs, implementing these initiatives for enhancing links between conservation and sustainable livelihoods as well as relevant PA authorities.
  • Enhance impacts and sustainability of the initiatives through facilitation of learning and sharing of lessons within and between community groups, NGOs, government.
In 2007, the first phase of the coordinated programme started with 13 NGOs at different Protected Areas spread across the country. It covered around 3800 households, engaged with 66 existing village level institutions and created 60 new groups/institutions involving around 20 tribal groups including Particularly Vulnerable Tribal groups like Chenchus and Katakris. (First phase report- People and Protected Areas: Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods in Partnership with Local Communities)
The second phase of this programme was launched in August 2014 in partnership with 16 NGOs and CBOs to work with different resource dependent  communities living within and around PAs from diverse ecosystems. It was planned and developed keeping in mind lessons from the Ist Phase as well as some critical issues like human wildlife conflict, impacts of climate change on livelihood security, understanding energy requirement needs and providing alternative solutions and undertaking capacity building of PA staff for improving relations with local communities.

A total of about 75 villages/hamlets have  covered with a total of around 4000 households. Till date 112 existing institutions have been strengthened and 101 new Technology User Groups have been formed.
During Phase 2, some of the low cost viable technological interventions which have been introduced and adopted by households are have been: 
  • LEISA, intercropping,  zero tillage farming, SRI, SWI, vegetable square meter gardening, WADI, low cost polyhouse, crop intensification system, vermi compost pits, green manure use and matka khad introduced to promote organic farming in 1408 HHs
  • High yielding and area appropriate fodder varieties cultivated through scientific methods in 481 HHs and better animal husbandry practices being promoted through artificial insemination and vaccination of 6117 livestock
  • Scientific methods for tuber cultivation, cashew garden management, large cardamom nursery, Nypa and Pandanus regeneration, sustainable harvesting of NTFPs as well as agro forestry taken up by 841 HHs
  • Energy efficient techniques ranging from fuel efficient  cooking devices, hamam, solar parabolic cookers, bathing systems LPG,   biogas, biomass briquettes, solar LED lighting system, solar cooker and solar lights installed in 1256 HHs. A few devices are also being used at the community level in 9 villages
  • Value addition of NTFPs through use of fiber extraction machine, shade air dryers, solar dryers, oil extraction units, hydraulic cold press, pulverisers and establishment of  handicrafts, piggery, poultry, lantana furniture and community based tourism have augmented incomes in 461 HHs
Under the third phase 21 new PAs and Partners have been selected. 
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