ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Human-Related Constraints in Protected Area Management

The establishment of protected areas to conserve and reduce human interactions has resulted in a series of repercussions, which generate new kinds of management issues. Conservation efforts create conflicts among local communities and between the local communities and the enforcing authorities, for they see these efforts as government-imposed restrictions on their socio-economic system. In this context, this study made an attempt to assess the human-related constraints in management in the Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala. It reveals that the constraints relate mainly to an insufficient attention paid to involving local communities and others who care about the protected area in planning, management and decision-making for the area, the social and economic dependencies of the local communities that conflict with the objectives of the PA.

Human-Related Constraints in Protected Area Management Manifestations and Causatives

The establishment of protected areas to conserve and reduce human interactions has resulted in a series of repercussions, which generate new kinds of management issues. Conservation efforts create conflicts among local communities and between the local communities and the enforcing authorities, for they see these efforts as government-imposed restrictions on their socio-economic system. In this context, this study made an attempt to assess the human-related constraints in management in the Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala. It reveals that the constraints relate mainly to an insufficient attention paid to involving local communities and others who care about the protected area in planning, management and decision-making for the area, the social and economic dependencies of the local communities that conflict with the objectives of the PA.

V ANITHA, P K MURALEEDHARAN, A S BINILKUMAR

O
ne of the most critical areas of conflict in natural resource PA management. An appropriate PA management option ismanagement is the forest land in and around which thereproposed in the last section.is a dependent populace. In particular, the linkages arebetween forestry and the basic needs of forest-dependent com-I munities. A conflict surfaces when local traditional practices areSite Description and Methodologyno longer viewed legitimate or consistent with the nationalpolicies, or when entities external to a community are able toPeechi-Vazhani WLS is located in Thrissur district of Kerala. pursue their interest, while ignoring the needs and imperativesHaving a total area of 125 km2 the sanctuary was formed byof local people [Anderson et al 1996]. Many global factors likecombining some portion of Peechi, Pattikad and Machad rangespopulation dynamics, degrading physical environment, historicalof the Thrissur forest division. The vegetation consists of moistinheritance, policy, legal and institutional context, economicdeciduous and semi-evergreen forest formations. The Nationalfactors, etc, also contribute to the emergence of human-relatedHighway 47 passes through the sanctuary, which breaks theconstraints in conservation at the local level having a significantcorridor between Peechi on the south and Vazhani forest tract positive or negative impact [Claude and Michelle 2000].on the north. It is the catchment area of two reservoirs (PeechiThe types of conflicts that arise in natural resource managementand Vazhani) contributing as a source of drinking water tocan vary from a short-term reduction in the competence ofThrissur town and the nearby panchayats.resource management system to a complete collapse of govern-The local stakeholders in Peechi-Vazhani had migrated to theirment initiatives. In extreme cases, these conflicts can escalate present habitation during the last many decades and are primarilyinto physical violence. The underlying cause of conflict overagrarian. The local community (sample) feature reflects a heteronatural resources, both among and between the local communitiesgeneous entity with 44 per cent tribals (Malayans and Kaders);and protected area (PA) managers is the combination of demo-33 per cent pioneer rice cultivators, migrant farmers (new settlersgraphic change and the limits to sustainable extraction of renew-who came during the last 40 years); 11 per cent of scheduledable natural resources. However, these pressures are complicatedcastes (Kavaras, Vettuvas, Pulayas, Parayas) and other backwardby development process. Besides, there are various structuralcommunities [Anitha and Muraleedharan 2002]. There are a totalcauses too, for example, the inequalities inherent in the legalof 21 tribal settlements in and around the sanctuary. The occudefinitions of landownership, local and regional economic andpational pattern reflects the primary sector dominance with highpolitical inequalities and ethnic and cultural difference [Cham-dependence on non-forestry income. The human developmentbers 1997].indicators of the study area, that is, literacy rate, per capita income,In this context, this study is an attempt to assess and enumeratehealth status, basic entitlements, sex ratio, work participation rate,the human-related constraints in the management of Peechi-accessibility to infrastructural facilities, and availability of socialVazhani Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) in Kerala. The paper issecurity options, etc, give a comparatively low level of humanorganised into four sections. The first section briefly describesresource development among the local community.the study site, people and methods used. Section II is an effortThe forests of Peechi-Vazhani today are an outcome of a longto put the historical information in an analytical framework tohistory of interaction amongst people and between the peopleelucidate the genesis of human-related constraints followed byand landscape, which is an ongoing process. The transition froman explanation of the adverse socio-economic dependencyreserve forest to a WLS in 1958, placed further restrictions onthat has resulted in the actual commercial threats to the WLS. activities like hunting, etc. These restrictions were again strength-Section III describes the manifestations of hostility and explainsened with the enactment of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972,at length some of the causative factors of these constraints in which also makes the existence of tribal settlements within the

Economic and Political Weekly March 11, 2006 sanctuary unauthorised. This has been the basis for resettlementof tribals to the neighbouring farmlands and is a bone ofcontention in the sanctuary management today.

This is a part of a larger study, which was conducted duringthe period 2000-02 in this area. The study was mainly based onprimary data, collected from a sample (600 households) of thelocal communities including tribals. A multistage stratified random sampling method was adopted for the selection of samples,the unit of study being the household. Taking these householdsas population, a socio-economic assessment was done givingmore weightage to the tribal households considering their dependence on the forest resources. Sample selection criteria include proximity, encroachment, tribal settlements, fringe areas,enclave settlements and extraction of non-timber forest products(NTFPs). The human-related constraints in management wereenumerated based on Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) conducted, informal discussions with the local communities and the forest department officials and field-level staff during thestudy period.

II Genesis of the Human-Related Conflicts

All forestry interventions deal with a historical interface betweenpeople and the landscape, their mutual influences, which is oftenconsidered less significant in any management plan. The temporalscale in this analysis starts from the intervention of the feudalchieftains in the late 1700s followed by the British interventionin the study area from the late 1800s to the present-day state forestdepartment management.

The past history of forest management in the division has beenvaried. Between 1760 and 1780 major parts of the forests of thedivision were under the ownership and possession of the erstwhileCochin state, under the ‘Naduvazhies’ (local chiefs). It was duringthis period that the Portuguese and Dutch traders extracted largequantities of teak and exported them to their countries [Development Report 1996]. This was the beginning of the processof exploitation and degradation of the natural wealth in thedivision. Naturally, social side of forestry was totally neglected.

Interest in forests as a commercial resource started way backwith British rule, which led to a large-scale exploitation of naturalresource. Areas around the sanctuary (reserve then) have alsoundergone drastic change. The reserve saw the growth of commercial plantations and leases starting from the mid-1800s. Withmounting commercial pressures also grew the subsistence demand of the rural population after second world war. This ledto an erosion of traditional practices of sustained harvests fromnatural areas, resulting in highly wasteful pattern of natural resources use.

Two major events that adversely affected the management offorests of this area were the cyclone of 1940 and the clearanceof forest for the “grow more food” campaign and “hill paddyscheme”. Absence of proper records helped the lessees to expandtheir holdings. The areas around what now constitutes the WLShave gradually increased in population density and the conversionof forest for agriculture continues today. The construction of thePeechi and Vazhani dams in the southern and northern portionsof the division respectively, during the 1950s and 1960s, hasdirectly accelerated the encroachment rate in these areas. Mostof the workers who participated in the construction later becameencroachers, doubling the rate in the second half of the century.Many lands recorded as plantations are now under encroachment[Narayanankutty 1990].

It is in the 1970s and 1980s that the emphasis shifted fromexploitation to conservation. The Forest Conservation Act of1980 stopped clear felling and selection felling in natural forests.

Coupled with this loss of forests were the problems of a growingpopulation and their social and economic dependencies. Theconsequences of the pressures of population, cattle and increasedconsumerist lifestyle of the people on the forests were manifold.The forest got exploited in the most unsustainable manner resulting in its degradation. The forest laws ensured that the forestswere kept inaccessible to the people and people saw these asrestrictions on their livelihood. Whatever be the amount of policing done by the forest department, the people always founda way to enter the forests to meet their livelihood needs. Theyalso left their cattle to graze due to lack of common grazingland or caused fires for several reasons, which further accelerated the process of degradation. To counter this loss of forests, theforest officials book or charge cases for violation of forestlaws against the people and very often the poor get punished.This led to a feeling of fear, discontent and hostility on the partof the people towards the sanctuary managers and a generalfeeling of mistrust developed between the two which exists asa strained relationship even now. The resultant scenario was thatneither are the people’s needs satisfied nor is the forest protectedand conserved.

Implications of Reservation

The conflicts between the local community and sanctuarymanagers are based amongst other things, on differing agendasand perceptions. A relevant question then is “what were theimplications of such reservation on the relationship between thelandscape and the local community?”. The affected two importantsocial groups today in this regard are the settled non-tribalfarmers and the tribal community.

The initial reservation process involved settlement of rightsfor farmers, allowing them the rights of passage through theforest. The Dhebhar Commission (1960) analysing the forestpolicy and its impact on tribals criticised the gradual expansionof government authority of forests to be detrimental to the tribalinterests. The prohibition of shifting cultivation not onlydestroyed the traditional economy of the tribals, but changed theirsocial structure altogether. Unfortunately, the wildlife conservation policies and programmes have till recently ignored thesedependencies, rights and relations. Thus, denial of their primarysource of livelihood has resulted in discontentment and dissatisfaction, which ultimately also threatens the conservation goalsof the forest landscape.

The situation in which Peechi-Vazhani WLS has come to be treated as open access areas has resulted in escalating degradationover the years as predicted in the “tragedy of commons” [Anithaand Muraleedharan 2002]. Various stakeholders are subjectingthe sanctuary to indiscriminate exploitation. In 1980s, when theissue of encroachment assumed serious proportions and posedrepeated threats in management, began the process of evictionof the encroachers who vehemently opposed the same. Thechronological progression (see the table) of these conflicts indicates that the process is still on and to date no solution hasbeen brought about in spite of political and judicial interventions.

Types of Conflicts

The conflicts identified in the sanctuary are basically (i) forland (change in boundaries, wanting social security); (ii) forproduce, either for self-consumption or for sale (either legitimate

– e g, NTFPs, or illegitimate, e g, rose wood, deer meat); and

(iii) for political dominance, exhibiting extremist behaviour/attitude. These are found on outer boundaries (e g, Thirumani,Kalappara, etc), along inner boundaries (e g, Maniyankinar,Thamaravellachal encroachments, etc) and between social

Economic and Political Weekly March 11, 2006

groups (tribals, Malayans, Kaders; non-tribals Kavaras, Pulyas,of the sanctuary to provide benefits is being undermined byVettuvas and Parayas; and others; also between the forestcommercial threats (as follows) occurring and the forecasts fordepartment and the local communities, including tribals). Exist-posterity are even more discouraging.ence of human enclaves within the WLS (e g, encroachments)Uncontrolled extraction of medicinal plants and other NTFPsis a potential threat in the long run. There are a wide range offrom within and adjoining areas of the WLS: In the study area,conflicts and disputes adversely influencing the management ofthe NTFP collection is undertaken both by the local communitiesthe study area (Box 1). and the tribals for subsistence as well as commercial purposes.

From a total of 83 NTFP species available in the WLS, only 52

per cent are collected on a regular basis (market-oriented),

Actual Commercial Threats

indicating the economic extinction of remaining products. The

Peechi-Vazhani WLS faces an anthropogenic threat from thecommercial importance of the products has led to degenerativeadverse socio-economic dependence on the local and easilyextractive practices of the natural resource. An important conavailable resources making it an open access area. The ability straint faced from the conservation point of view is that, no system

Table: Chronological Progression of Important Human-Related Conflicts in Peechi-Vazhani WLS since 1980s

Place and Period Conflicts Consequences
1980s (Thamaravellachal) Encroachment of forest land – eviction from the forest land. Re-encroachment of the forest land by the former encroachers who were evicted on May 16, 1980. The encroachers were the tribes of the adjoining settlements. Offence booked against the encroachers and evicted. Evicted from the area with the police support.
Evicted the encroachers who encroached the land on May 19, 1980. Encroachers re-encroached with local political support.
1981 (Thamaravellachal) Attempt to evict the encroachers. Eviction unsuccessful (political back-up).
1982 (Thamaravellachal) Attempt to evict the encroachers. - do
1983 (Thamaravellachal) Attempt to evict the encroachers. - do - Eviction failed (political back-up). Proposal for settlement of the encroachers at Thekkumpadam was prepared.
1984 (Thamaravellachal) Resettlement proposal as per government letter No: 50252/FGI/83/AD dated September 8, 1984 for the occupants of Thamaravellachal forest area was discussed. The proposal envisages to provide each family 50 cents of land at a place called Thekkumpadam, a failed plantation area. The proposal was opposed by the occupants on the argument that the area proposed for the resettlement is a rocky area where there is dearth of water and hence not suited for cultivation. 1998 (Maniyankinar) Tribes of Maniyankinar tribal settlement instigated by Adivasi Samithi demolished 51 permanent cairns to consolidate their boundary. Offence booked against 19 tribals of the settlement. A picket station was erected in the vicinity of the settlement to prevent any further attempt to encroachment. An alternative proposal was given by the then district collector to translocate the occupants to Pampatty near Pattikad by allotting two acres of land in the second rotation teak regeneration area. The chief conservator of forest (CF) turned down the proposal and asked the conservator of forest of Thrissur circle to examine the possibility of allowing the occupants to reside in Thamaravellachal itself and the CF agreed to this proposal. But no government order was made in line with this proposal.
1998 (Maniyankinar) Tribals physically obstructed and kept the assistant wildlife warden and staff hostage who went there for patrolling. Police intervention was sought to free the officials. Police booked case against 63 tribals for preventing. government officials from discharging their duties.
1999 (Maniyankinar) Using the grant for house construction allotted by the district panchayat, tribals tried to construct basement in the forest land lying outside the demolished cairns which the FD objected to. Booked case against the tribals concerned.
2001 (Olakara) Tribals held the forest officials of Olakara forest station and took charge of the forest station. This was to express their displeasure on certain false cases booked on them. Officials freed after police intervention.
2001 (Thirumani) Forceful encroachment under the leadership of the District Adivasi Samithi with the aim of retaining the alienated tribal land and some areas of Eucalyptus plantation by the Thirumani tribal settlement. Temporary withdrawal from the encroached land after discussions between the tribal leaders and the district forest officer.
2001 (Kalappara) Demolition of cairns and encroachment of forest land under the leadership of the District Adivasi Samithi by the tribes of Kalappara tribal settlement together with the tribes of Maniyankinar, Elanad, Olakara. Temporary withdrawal from the encroached land after discussions between the tribal leaders and the district forest officer.
2001 (Thirumani) Taking over of the Elanad forest station by the tribes of Thirumani tribal settlement under the leadership of Dalit Adivasi Samithi demanding an increase in wages paid for them for forestry labour. Group dispersed itself after discussion with the deputy ranger ensuring a discussion between the leaders and the higher officials.
Source: Anitha and Muraleedharan, 2002.
Economic and Political Weekly March 11, 2006 921

of retaining a minimum per cent of the part extracted was observedin the field. Also, the linkages to a chain of middlemen and privatetraders were found not conducive to sustaining the resource base.Grazing: One of the major uses of the sanctuary is by way ofgrazing, mainly because of the scarcity of common grazing landsand the high cost of fodder. The grazing pressure in the sanctuarywas observed to be approximately 20 livestock/km2, which is still high. The grazing pressure is significant and is closelycorrelated to forest degradation quality-wise [Jayanarayanan2000]. Here, grazing takes another dimension where the systemof leaving large number of cattle in the sanctuary for monthstogether was also observed. In addition, proximity to the sanctuary coupled with the non-cooperation of the public to keep outtheir cattle has made control very difficult thereby creatingconstraints in its management.Indigenous farming (specially in catchment area): The riverManalipuzha, which originates from the Peechi forests, is alreadythreatened from agriculture and human enclave expansions. Thecultivation practice adopted by the local communities in thecatchment area to supplement their income is highly unsustainable, particularly with the regular application of dangerouspesticides like Phorate, which is highly poisonous and knownfor its “bio-magnifier effect”. This is a very serious matter,needing an immediate attention. The danger lies in the contamination of the reservoir when it fills with water immediately afterthe cultivation period, as it is the source of drinking water toThrissur town and nearby panchayats. In the Vazhani catchmentarea of the reservoir no cultivation is observed. Commercial fishing: There is a rich fish fauna in Peechi-Vazhani and Chimmoni WLSs (lying contiguous), with a total of 37species, belonging to 15 families [Thomas et al 2000]. A declinein the quantity of fish collected from Peechi reservoir from 32,854kg in 1991-92 to 4,224 kg in 1998-99 may be attributed to theunsustainable land use practices undertaken in the Peechi reservoir catchment, whereas, an increase of 6,486 kg from 199293 to 2000-01 accounted to the less disturbed Vazhani catchment area.

Box 1: Conflicts Identified as Human-Related Constraints in Effective and Sustainable PA Management(Peechi-Vazhani WLS)
General – Landownership conflicts – creating land disputes with no legal method to clarify ownership; – Tensions from rapid socio-economic changes due to shift from subsistence to market economy; – Political and religious tensions creating family and community divisions; – Growing pressures to find an alternate income or subsistence where resources are depleted; – Fear, tension and mistrust over custom beliefs; – Tensions caused by the breakdown of traditional leadership structures and systems; – Tensions between the tribals and settlers over the use of natural resources. Local Community vs Forestry – Lack of knowledge in forestry; – Dominance of commercial interests over fodder and fuelwood needs of women; – Lack of involvement of local interested parties in the management and defining strategic livelihood objectives within the sanctuary; – Social tensions consequent on the mention of participatory forest management; – Tensions between communities unaware of forestry practices that create environmental degradation and downstream stakeholders; – Erosion of power of traditional leaders to impose bans to regenerate forestry stock; and – Contradictory natural resources management objectives of the wildlife managers and the basic livelihood issues.

Commercial extraction of fuelwood:The local communities dependheavily on the forest for fuelwood to cater to both subsistenceas well as market needs. An estimated 74 per cent of the selectedhouseholds collect firewood from the forests. Along with thefallen twigs and leaves, primary extraction was also observedby destructive harvesting of the preferred species (Terminaliapaniculata, Xylia xylocarpa and Grewia tiliaefolia). It was estimated that about 1,400 tonnes of firewood is collected annuallyof which 560 tonnes are for sale and 840 tonnes for selfconsumption. The sale price of one bundle of firewood (20 to35 kg) at the market varies between Rs 35 and Rs 70 dependingupon the area, season, demand, etc. Now, the situation is suchthat it has become a commercial activity and has led to head loadsbeing removed from the forest area whereby, preferred speciesare becoming scarce.Encroachment: This too takes its toll on the sanctuary. Majorityof the encroachment took place in the early 1950s as indicatedearlier. Approximately, less than 180 hectares of land is in thepossession of the local community within the Peechi sanctuarywith around 15 per cent alone having proper title deeds[Jayanarayanan 2000]. The tenurial insecurity is thus a complicated issue, which is the major cause of human-related conflictsin the management of the sanctuary.

Large number of entry paths and other commercial activities:

Besides traditional routes, large numbers of entry paths have beenobserved (40) during the study period. This makes road accessto and from the sanctuary easy. Other commercial interests likesand mining and brick making are also being pursued here inthe Peechi catchment area. Each year (during the study period),for four months (December-March) six brick making unitsfunction in the Peechi catchment area. Each unit producesabout 15 lakh bricks and hence makes an annual turnover of about Rs 16 lakh. About 60 families are completely dependent onthese brick-making units for their livelihood. Rock mining isanother activity exercising immense pressure on the sanctuaryand indirectly polluting (noise as well as material waste) theatmosphere. In Pattikkad range alone, the demand for rock asboulder, metal, etc, for house construction put immense pressureand the number of quarries increased from one to eight by 1998[Jayanarayanan 2000]. Poaching, is found only in certain areas(e g, Karadippara, Chakkolatharissu, Pullankandam, etc). Othercommercial activities include unauthorised wood felling andbrewing.

III Manifestations of Hostility and Attempts to Manage by Authority

The human-related constraints in the management have beenrealised in different forms in the study area (Box 2). These aremanifestations of their resentment to the restriction clamped uponthem. For instance, preference for local people (non-tribals) inforestry operations has resulted in discontentment among thetribals (Malayans) and they have protested by means of picketingthe department office, etc, (primary data estimates).

Attempts are also made by the forest department to managethese conflicts. Cases are booked and charged in thecourt. Offences are booked under two different categories, viz,

(i) wildlife offences (WL) (such as, poaching, etc), booked underthe Wildlife Protection Act, 1972; and (ii) forest offences (FR)(such as, wood felling, etc), booked under the Kerala Forest Act,1961 and other acts. As far as the nature of forest cases in Peechi-Vazhani is concerned 89 per cent reported are wood felling cases.The decadal record (1992-2001) of forest cases reported fromPeechi-Vazhani WLS showed a declining trend although there

Economic and Political Weekly March 11, 2006

are inter-year fluctuations. The declining trend of FR and WLcases (from 47 to 28 numbers) indicates reasonably good levelof law enforcement even though there are some stray cases, whichgo unregistered.

The excise cases registered in Peechi-Vazhani wildlife sanctuary show fluctuating trend over the years, i e, from three in1993-94 to eight in 1996-97 and a steady decline to five in2000-01. The low number of cases reported might be due to thefact that these sorts of unauthorised activities (illicit brewing)take place in certain pockets, which are not easily accessible forthe authority concerned to act on a timely basis. This justifiesthe fact that many cases go unrecorded.

Causatives of Forest-Related Conflicts

There are a number of factors that have contributed to the natural resources-based conflicts in the sanctuary. Most of thecausatives (as follows) are a result of constraints within andbetween the local communities and the authority over the resourceownership and access vs protection. Some such resultant conflictsare so serious that they have turned political.Tenure issues: Property rights are not well-defined or enforced,indeed, many frontier areas are de facto open access areas.Conflicts arise over landownership, allocation of land to manypeople, lack of access roads, and sometimes the land use practisedby them. Undefined tenure issues leads to the exploitation ofnatural capital (open access resources).Lack of community awareness: Most of the people living nextto or inside the WLS do not know the provision of the laws asto their rights and responsibilities to forest conservation. Whenforest is being denotified or put to different use, the communityis never consulted yet, they are the first ones to immediately feelthe impact. Sometimes they even participate in deliberate destruction leading to conflicts.Population pressures vs dwindling resources: Estimates show that a large number of people live in the areas adjacent toPAs and directly depend on the natural resources for theirlivelihood and survival. Available studies show that the deforestation is a big threat to the sanctuary and economic developmentof the area. There is no published data on the extent of denudationof forests in the sanctuary over a period of time. However, anestimate on the same in the earlier Thrissur forest division (in which Peechi-Vazhani constituted 90 per cent) accounted for23 per cent during the 30-year period between 1930 and 1960,when forests were cleared for various purposes.This ratefurther doubled by 50 per cent during the period 1960 to 1984[Menon 1986]. One of the recent studies, based on the remotesensing data, pointed out that about 29 per cent of the forestareas of Peechi part of Peechi-Vazhani sanctuary are groupedunder the category of highly and moderately degraded areas[Mammen 2000].Low level of conservation awareness: Majority of the localcommunity were indifferent to the conservation programmes mainly because forestry accounted for only a nominal shareof their income and their dependence was mainly forintangible goods and thereby the less significance. Amongthe tribals it was the opposite for, forestry is their livelihoodirrespective of its share in their total income. Indifference indicates low conservation awareness leading to the conflict ofinterests. Unclear institutional arrangements: Unclear institutional arrangements end up confusing the resource dependent communities. The following institutions like the Kerala forest department, the Kerala water authority, the state irrigation department,the girijan service cooperative society, the public works department, etc, have a stake on the sanctuary. There is an absenceof a clear delineation of the responsibilities and accountability,i e, lack of an integrated approach to managing the same resource.Policy and legal framework: The policy and legal structure arenot in line with the changing demands of various stakeholders;for example, research has shown that people’s participation isvital in sustainable resource management [Palik 1993, Poffenberger1990, Colfer 1995]. Yet, most of policy and legal frameworksfor many decades have been anti-people’s involvement, resultingin an uncontrolled exploitation of the resource by forest adjacentcommunities whose livelihood depends on the forests. Thoughthere is a paradigm shift to participatory approach it is still inan experimental stage and its wide acceptability in the sanctuaryis still doubtful. Forestland allocation: Forestland is being allocated to peoplewho end up putting it to different uses that may have a negativeimpact on environment. In most cases, the land is developed foragriculture or commercial use that beats the purpose of reserve.Influx of cultivators from neighbouring districts has led to anincrease in crop production and thus clearing of forests (e g,Thamaravellachal and Maniyankinar encroachments). Mechanisms that ensure that local people benefit from the forest andwildlife conservation are yet to be developed.Political interference: Political intervention with the forest also led to an irregular forest land allocation with sustainability ofthe resulting settlements not guaranteed. This is not backed byany impact assessment or legislation resulting in conflict andirregularities in the implementation of laws governing the useof forests. The area around the sanctuary has had a good shareof tribal conflict eruption since the onset of the multi-party era.Conflicts are caused by an ethnic diversity common in this area.Market forces: Local communities who cannot afford to competein a liberalised market, yet depend on natural resources for basicneeds, have no alternative but to overexploit resources. As a resultof the globalisation process, the local resources are exposed tothe international market, which implies a competition over limitedresources ending up on the market. Market forces in the regionalso undermine conservation in general and PA management, inparticular.

Box 2: Manifestations of Human-Related Constraints in Peechi-Vazhani WLS
• • • • • • Non-cooperation (refusing to help put out forest fires, refusing to keep out cattle). Deliberate destruction (unauthorised timber cutting, starting forest fires). Violence against officials (against wildlife warden and associated staff). Bypassing the law by gaining political patronage. Illicit liquor brewing and ganja cultivation. Passive resistance (tree felling, etc).

IV Management Option: Landscape-Livelihoods Approach to PA Management

Any conservation initiative of the forest department should takeinto consideration the above-mentioned implications of adversesocio-economic pressures on PAs. Within a landscape there areseveral elements like the forest, degraded forest, plantations,village ecosystems, human activity, etc, which have interlinkagesand interactions and also with those across the landscape. Achange in any landscape is inevitable. However, changes due tomanagement decisions and human interactions are quicker andthere is a need to manage such changes in a way that do not

Economic and Political Weekly March 11, 2006 compromise the long-term sustainability of the resource base andthe options available. Given that a conflict cannot operate outsidesocial context, it is necessary to adopt a management strategywhere along with the conservation objectives, sustainable livelihood issues are also addressed. Among the local communitiesin the sanctuary the incidence of poverty was found to be highamong the tribals (59.3 per cent) while the non-tribals recorded

38.6 per cent [Anitha and Muraleedharan 2002]. A livelihoodapproach is thus, putting people at the centre of the development,thereby increasing the standard of living and sustaining thelandscape at large.

An increase in pressure on natural resources should beequated with necessary changes in the formal planning. Suchan integrated approach will encompass all the landscapeelements rather than neoclassical economic approach to resourceallocation and use. This study proposes a conceptual three-stagelevel forest management plan with a new landscape livelihoodapproach.

As is evident from the foregone discussion, the WLSs are beingput to different uses, viz, agriculture, conservation (protection),forestry and other uses (commercial interests). There is an interrelation between the first three forms of land uses. For instance, sustainable agricultural practices conserve soil. This interrelationis incomplete, for land use within the WLS (catchment areas)result in biodiversity loss on the one hand and on the other currentforestry practices are not in par with the depletion pace. Thisis the first stage of planning in landscape allocation where extremecaution is to be borne in mind. The second stage would concernitself with the practices adopted in the three different use spheresof agriculture, conservation and forestry. This again holds significance because of resource allocation at a given point of timewill consequent in a series of actions; for example, an improvement in forest management practices may increase the biodiversityby habitat improvement. This in turn would bring about a positivechange in the local communities on resource allocation and use.Integrating the different practices in conformity to society’s goalsforms the third stage of planning.

The need of the hour is to come up with a workable andlocation specific design of participatory forest management (PFM),focusing on the landscape-livelihood approach. This seeksto eliminate the conflicts between forest managers andthe primary stakeholders. However, a mere establishment ofinstitutions does not guarantee that localised natural resourceswill be managed in a sustainable manner. It is thus necessaryto make conflict management an integral part of the managementplan whereby the conflicts can be understood in a betterperspective with all its members and solution found. Goodgovernance is characterised by accountability, transparencyand representation. Adherence of these would result in aneffective and efficient forest management. Such an approach willgo a long way in conserving WLSs and also catering to the basiclivelihood requirements of the dependent local communities,including tribals.

Conclusion

The human consumptive use of resources and the forestlanduse practices are incompatible to conserving biological diversity,consequently posing constraints in PA management. The majorissues as a result of human-related constraints in managementhere arise out of the long gone process of conversion andoverexploitation, unauthorised commercial activities, adversesocio-economic pressures and management lapses. The survivalof the Peechi-Vazhani WLS is threatened as an importantcatchment area for many rivers, source of drinking water, foodand other forest products for the local and forest-dwelling communities and a habitat for biodiversity. These mainly relateto an insufficient attention to (i) the approach of involving localcommunities and others who care about the PA in the planning,management and decision-making for the area, (ii) the social andeconomic dependencies of the local communities that conflictswith the objectives with the PAs, and (iii) the actual commercialthreats facing the PAs. A deeper analysis arising in the area showsthat the conflicts are fuelled by scramble for land in the newlyand politically created settlement schemes, political pressure andunequal distribution of resources. This has affected the land useand investment on land as insecurity ranges, resulting in deliberate destruction of the natural capital. The causatives clearlyindicate that management policies should consider the intra- andinter-community differences. In other words, management shouldconsider the basic needs and aspirations of the dependent localcommunities (including tribals) residing in and around the WLSsand simultaneously deal in an appropriate and timely basis withthe conflicting situations created by large number of users of theresource. The absence of which will result in conflict of interests leading to lack of motivation and participation of the dependentpopulation. An integrated landscape-livelihood approach in aparticipatory mode is considered most appropriate in PA management.

m

Email: anitha@kfri.org

References

Anderson, John, Michelle Gauthier, Garry Thomas and Julia Wondolleck (1996): ‘Addressing Natural Resource Conflicts through Community Forestry: Setting the Stage’, paper prepared for the Electronic Conference, Forest Trees and People Programme, Forestry Department, FAO, Rome, Italy, p 10.

Anitha, V and P K Muraleedharan (2002): ‘Study of Social and Economic Dependencies of Local Communities on Protected Areas: A Case of Peechi-Vazhani and Chimmoni Wildlife Sanctuaries’, KFRI Research Report 240, Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, Thrissur, Kerala.

Chambers, R (1997): Whose Reality Counts, Intermediate Technology Publications, London.

Claude, D and G Michelle (2000): ‘Community Forestry and Forest Resource Conflicts: An Overview’, http://www.fao.org/forestry/foda/wforcong/ PUBLI/PDF/V5E_T27.PDF.

Colfer, C, J Pier (1995): ‘Who Costs Most in Sustainable Forest Management’, Working Paper No 7, CIFOR, p 15. Development Report (Malayalam) (1996): ‘Pananchery Grama Panchayath, Pattikkad, Thrissur’, Kerala.

Jayanarayanan, T (2000): ‘Forest Degradation in Kerala: Causes and Consequences – A Case Study of Peechi-Vazhani Area’, Discussion Paper No 27, Kerala Research Programme on Local Level Development (KRPLLD), Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram.

Mammen, D P (2000): ‘Landscape Evaluation of Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary with Special Reference to Peechi Region Using Remote Sensing Techniques’, MSc, Dissertation (unpublished), School of Environmental Studies, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala.

Menon, A R R (1986): ‘Forest Denudation in Kerala: A Case Study of Trichur Forest Division’ in K S S Nair, R Gnanaharan and S Kedernath (eds), Ecodevelopment of Western Ghats, proceedings of a seminar held at Peechi, October 17-18, 1984, Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi.

Narayanankutty, T P (1990): ‘The First Management Plan for Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary 1990-99 to 1999-2000’, Government of Kerala.

Palik, S (1993): ‘Joint Forest Management’, Working Paper No 15, National Support Group for Joint Forest Management and the Ford Foundation, New Delhi.

Poffenberger, M (1990): ‘Forest Management Partnerships – Regenerating India’s Forests’, The Ford Foundation, New Delhi.

Thomas, K R, C R Biju and C R Ajithkumar (2000): ‘Fishes of Chimmoni and Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuaries’, Kerala, India, J Bombay Natural History Society 97(2), pp 289-92.

Economic and Political Weekly March 11, 2006

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Back to Top