Community-based conservation relates to protect larger areas of land by encouraging local stewardship and integrating social and environmental priorities. Community-based conservation was first advocated at the 1982 World National Parks Congress with the promotion of the biosphere reserves model. In fact the concept of community-based conservation was sought in order to reduce the negative social impacts of PAs on local communities, and garner their support for conservation. Due to interest from international and local organizations there has been an increasing focus in India in involving local communities for conservation by implementing community based conservation.
Our Project Area:
Manas Biosphere Reserve which is also a Tiger Reserve is one of the most important conservation areas in eastern Himalayan biodiversity hotspot. The Manas National Park is the core area of Manas Biosphere Reserve and a unique and a fascinating landscape. The Manas National Park is also one of the India’s six World Heritage Site (natural). Despite the ecological importance of the forests of Manas National Park, ecosystems have been subjected to great stress and continue to face multiple threats including two decade long civil unrest. Because of remoteness of the area the people living at the vicinity of Manas National Park have incomes lower than the comparable groups of semi urban area and also have less access to education, health care, and developmental opportunities. This situation compels the communities in the southern boundary of Manas to bank heavily on forest resources found in Park for their livelihood which is found detrimental to conservation initiatives in the Park. In order to show the way for an alternative sustainable livelihood option not dependent of forest resources, Aaranyak has been working with the communities in the fringe areas around Manas National Park, especially with the women folk of the area since 2009.
- Vulnerability of Forest Resource dependency
- Ecosystem services and its link to poverty
- Women empowerment, health and socio-economic issues
- Identify existing and emerging livelihood potentials and improvise traditional knowledge to help improve livelihoods and providing specific innovative ideas.
- Develop capacity building and work to minimise dependency on forest resources and reduce poverty to increase socioeconomic resilience
- Explore market scope and linking the producers to market.
- Exploring the potential of ecotourism using the cultural and tradition of the region mainly home stays.
Initiative in Manas to develop a model system:
Aaranyak conducted two trainings for total 136 women from 28 fringe villages in two groups on food processing and preservation methods. The first phase of the training was organized at Bhuyanpara of Manas National Park in the year 2009 from 6th to 10th September. The next phase of training was organized at Bansbari range of Manas National Park this year from 27th to 30th August 2010. A follow-up programme was conducted for the trainees of the first phase on August 31 2010. Feedback from trainees revealed that training was interesting for them as they learned to prepare food products for daily use as well as for commercial purposes that too from locally available materials. They also said that they are happy to get the training on food processing organized for first time around Manas National Park.
As part of a Community Based Conservation Programme that form a component of a bigger conservation effort in Manas National Park in Assam, Maidangshri an all-women self-help group comprising women from interior villages near Manas National Park (MNP) is promoted by Aaranyak.
Despite participated in first state-level event, hardworking women entrepreneurs of Maidangshri received the Best Private Stall prize and first prize in product preparation for the unique papaya jelly in the fair in 2011 organised by Assam State Agriculture Department.
Maidangshri is a significant outcome of Aaranyak’s visionary initiative in which it had trained more than 100 village women. Twenty two of these women from five villages formed self help group Maidangshri and started production of a variety of processed food products like squash, jam, jelly, pickle, etc.
- Currently we are working with 116 women Self Help Groups from 53 fringe villages of Panbari, Bansbari and Bhuyanpara.
- In order to develop skills and capacity building, all the targeted SHGs were trained on different livelihood interventions of their interest to make them self sustainable. At present all of them are converting their trainings into actions through hard work.These women SHGs are working in 9 different sectors
- A consultation workshop cum training was organized on fishery farming. 7 SHGs are currently involved in fish farming and have started earning their livelihood.
- A three-day training was organized on dairy farming and 8 cross breed stall fed cows were distributed in the fringe villages under Panbari and Bansbari Range of MNP
- A day-long training was organized on goat farming and 100 number of cross breed goats were distributed to 25 SHGs
- A day-long training was organized on piggery farming and 124 piglets were distributed among 31 SGHs under Bansbari and Bhuyanpara Range.
- Four-days training on bee-keeping was organized for 82 women folks and bee-boxes were also provided to all the trainees after the training.
- Weaving is an integral part of tradition and culture of the local communities around Manas. The women of these areas are skilled in weaving and currently we are supporting 8 SHGs in this sector. So, they were provided with yarns and looms for better support.
- Training was given to 6 SHGs on vermicomposting and 3 groups are now constructing the unit to start production.
- 12 SHGs were trained on Mushroom Farming and currently they have started farming.
- In addition to Maidangshri, 4 new SHGs on Food processing were trained and supported with materials like hand juicers, bottles and food grade containers.
- A ware-house has been constructed in Majrabari village under Bhuyanpara Range of MNP for a food processing and preservation unit which Aaranyak will be using as training and capacity building centre for local women folks.
- Moreover, a regular monitoring of all the SHGs’ activities and their progress takes place.
- As part of the exposure trip, two SHGs had participated in the “1st International North East Agri Fair” 2014 which was organised by Assam Agriculture University and Department of Agriculture, Govt. of Assam.
- Even though all these women groups resides close to Manas National Park most of them have never visit the park. So, in order to show them the precious natural beauty and to motivate them to contribute to conservation of Manas we have taken 100 women on a trip to Mathunguri in MNP.
- Exhibition cum sale of SHG products
- Market linkage (Trade fairs, exhibitions)
- Spokesperson on conservation awareness programme
With an aim to raise awareness about the scope and benefits of adopting forest-free livelihoods, a local livelihood exhibition cum sale will be organized at a central location in the project site to exhibit the various types of products prepared by different SHGs supported under the project.
Aaranyak is facilitating the targeted SHGs to participate in events like trade fairs, agriculture shows and exhibitions organized by the state government, Bodoland Territorial Council and other private agencies round year in Guwahati and other cities. Selected and capable women members of self help groups will be trained as spokespersons in different platforms at local levels and district level programmes for motivating awareness on wildlife conservation issues and helping the local people to understand the issues.
- Replicate the successful livelihood models in other fringe areas of Manas Landscape and engage more women groups.
- Motivate and convert knowledge to action on conservation by involving the communities in conservation related issues
- Explore more sustainable livelihood options for both men and women and introducing sustainable income generation business enterprises.
Support our initiative and contribute for conservation.
Donate and help us in getting more and more communities to provide livelihood for long term conservation of Manas.
Contact: Dr. Namita Brahma for Manas Landscape
Contact: Secretary General of Aaranyak for other landscapes