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Management of Protected Areas

Protected areas that are surrounded by a large human population within and outside the sanctuary need to be managed keeping in mind not just the ecological requirements but also the livelihood needs of local communities. While the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 does provide for people's rights within sanctuaries, policies regarding protected areas must encourage a partnership between these communities and government agencies.

Management of Protected Areas

Exploring an Alternative in Gir

Protected areas that are surrounded by a large human population within and outside the sanctuary need to be managed keeping in mind not just the ecological requirements but also the livelihood needs of local communities. While the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 does provide for people’s rights within sanctuaries, policies regarding protected areas must encourage a partnership between these communities and government agencies.

AMITA SHAH

E
xperiences from a number of developing economies suggest that none of the pre-conceived, “blue-print” solutions may work across different protected areas (PAs), though it may have worked in the situations of wilderness [Chopra 1998]. The choice of PA-management approach therefore, has to be in tune with the location-specific situation-ecological, socio-economicpolitical and financial [Perrings 2000]. Time specificity is also important in this context. The present paper explores the possibility of linking conservation with people’s livelihood needs in the context of Gir Protected Area in western India.

Different Approaches

The contemporary debate on PA-management in developing countries consists mainly of the two somewhat extreme positions taken by conservationists and social activists [Saberwal et al 2001]; the former pleads for protection from any kind of human interventions, the later emphasises human rights, viewing local communities as part of the ecology. The legal framework in India, largely following the conservationist approach, seeks to eliminate altogether human sources of biotic pressure. While the approach has made significant contribution towards fostering survival and also growth of wildlife population, it has brought into its fold hostility and conflicts between the “protectors” and the “people” dependent on resources within the PA [Kothari et al 1996; Saberwal et al 2001]. Owing to the “illegal” status, the resource is likely to become unregulated and haphazard thus, leading to greater damage to the PA than otherwise [Pimbert and Pretty 1995]. Increased wildlife population with simultaneous shrinkage of their habitat is yet another feature of the conflict 1 [Kothari et al 1996; Saberwal et al 2001].

Recognising the practical difficulties of enforcement, the legal system in India does provide some space for meeting people’s needs from the PA. There are provisions in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, which allow for the continuation of rights within sanctuaries, and for the activities that are not destructive to wildlife. Recently, the Tiger Task Force [TTF 2005], set up by the government of India, reinstates the inevitability of adopting an inclusive approach that has been advocated by a number of scholars [Shahbuddin and Rangarajan 2006].2

The conservation discourse, of late, has focused on the issue of linking conservation with development of the periphery, which eventually has culminated into the eco-development project (EDP). The central thrust of EDP is to reduce people’s dependence on PA-resources by generating alternative sources of income-employment-awareness towards conservation values, and partnership in development as well as protection efforts [Singh 1994].3 The project however, sidesteps the crucial issue of resource rights and thereby ignores the inequity between local communities and the state [Kothari et al 1996, p 34].

Proponents of the right based approach have suggested the possibility of joint protected area management (JPAM) with the objective of “conserving natural ecosystems and their wildlife, as well as of ensuring the livelihood security of local traditional communities, through legal and institutional mechanisms which ensure an equal partnership between these communities and government agencies”.4 While the approach is still in the nascent stage, it may particularly be relevant in situations, where PAs have been surrounded by a large size of human population.5 The Gir Protected Area represents one such case, having large human population, both inside as well as outside the sanctuary area.

The policies in India have neither tried to assess nor balance, conservation with people’s needs [Singh 1996]. Also, there is little recognition of the fact that the reality is generally mixed and constantly changing [Shahbuddin and Shah 2003]. The provisions for resource use are mainly in the spirit of offering concessions rather than recognising rights of the local communities [Kothari et al 1996, p 31]. This has resulted in gross underutilisation of the potential for people’s participation and benefit-sharing within the preview of the Act. The two approaches thus, continue to coexist side by side, rather than getting interspersed and integrated into a holistic one. A number of studies, have gone into the issue of coexistence of PA and the people in different parts of the country. Most of these studies however either discuss ecological perspective for conservation or, look into the implementation relocation of people from the PA [Shahbuddin and Rangarajan 2006]. Also, empirical studies, focusing on people’s dependence on PA and the conflicts thereof are also limited.6 The present paper is an attempt to bridge a part of the research gap.

The paper discusses (a) status of natural resources within as well as outside the PA, and the conflicts thereof; (b) differential dependence on the PA-resources and their perceptions about resource management; and (c) alternative management approach in the light of (a) and (b).

The study is based mainly on primary data collected from a sample survey of households from four villages in the periphery during the year 2001-02. A census was carried out covering 2,763 households in the study villages, which helped in selecting the sample households. The sample households were selected on the basis of stratified random sampling from three categories, viz; landless, landed with irrigation, and landed without irrigation7 (Table 1). Two villages were selected from each east and west divisions of the PA. Whereas one of the two villages in each division is located nearer to the PA (i e, less than two kms from the boundary), the other village is relatively far off. Supplementary information was also collected through focus group discussions (FGDs) with maldhari (herder communities) households living in four ‘nesses’ (settlements) within the PA.8

Status and Contestations over Resource Use

Located in Gujarat state in the western part of India, Gir is one of the largest compact tracts of dry deciduous forest spread over an area of 1,412.1 sq kms. The PA is surrounded by a peripheral forest of 470.5 sq kms. The area had faced severe risk of extinction of its flagship wildlife species, i e, the Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica), before it was notified as sanctuary in 1965. Subsequently, a part of the sanctuary was notified as national park in 1975.9 This facilitated undertaking a number of conservation measures, resulting in improved vegetation [Pathak 1996], and culminating into successful revival of wildlife within the PA [Singh and Kamboj 1995]. By the turn of the century, wildlife population had overshot what traditionally used to be considered as “carrying capacity” of the ecosystem.10

The success could be largely attributed to effective protection and habitat development practices adopted by the forest department. A seminal study by Sharma and Johnsingh (1996) has presented detailed account of the increased vegetation in the PA, suggesting coexistence of the wildlife and the people who continued to live inside the sanctuary after the relocation of a sub-set of the maldhari families since the mid-1970s. Relocation of these families therefore, is not being seen as high priority agenda in the current thinking of PA-management. This section gives a brief account of the status of natural resources and the issues of contestation over their use.

Gir, apart from being the only home of the Asiatic lion and the largest intact stretch of natural forest in the region, assumes special significance because of its tremendous regenerating, selfsupporting and sustaining capacity for the rich and diverse fauna and flora [Singh and Kamboj 1995; Pathak 1996].11 Nevertheless, the PA has suffered severe degradation of resources, especially in the post-1980s, owing to natural phenomenon like frequent droughts and cyclone on the one hand, and human interventions on the other. The main features of degradation have been listed as follows:

  • (i) About 33 per cent of the area inside the PA is degraded or highly degraded.
  • (ii) Proportion of teak in the total timber trees has declined from 45 to 38 per cent due to a devastating cyclone that took place during the early 1980s.
  • (iii) Digging of large number of bore wells (for irrigation) resulting in decline in the water table. Similarly large number of waterholes (i e, artificial sources of water), pose risk of accidents and damage to wildlife. Scarcity of water becomes a major problem for supporting wildlife during summer months.

  • (iv) Moderate to severe soil erosion in the PA-area, and water pollution due to increasing use of chemical fertiliser especially, on irrigated crops.
  • (v) Encroachment of pastures in the peripheral villages thus,
  • reducing the availability of fodder to support livestock particularly, among land-poor households.

    Degradation of resources is both – cause as well as result of conflicts between the PA-management and the people living within and outside the PA [Chaudhary 2000; Ganguly 2004]. The conflicts get manifested in terms of (a) re-entry of a number of families relocated outside the PA; and infiltration of livestock from the periphery and other regions; (b) overgrazing and selling of farmyard manure, top soil, fuel wood by households; (c) frequent attacks by wildlife resulting in loss of crops and human lives as well as livestock; (d) resentment among people especially in the 23 villages, which have lost the entire pasture land at the time of demarcation of PA-boundary; and (e) accidental as well as intentional fires more or less on a regular basis. This of course leaves out poaching of wildlife, probably by criminal gangs, that may be independent of the conservation-livelihood interface in the region. Overall, this suggests a fairly contentious situation; growth of population, human, livestock and wildlife – in the recent past seems to have aggravated the imbalance between conservation and people’s needs.12

    People’s Dependence on Protected Areasand Village Pastures

    Presently, about 8,000 people and 11,000 livestock inhabit 54 nesses and 14 forest settlements inside the PA. Systematic estimate of the population however, are not available in the public domain.

    Table 1: Benefits and Costs to Maldharis in Gir

    (At 1994-95 Prices)

    Economic Benefits and Costs Rs Lakh

    A Benefits 1 Fodder 784.48 2 Fuel wood 5.93 3 Timber 4.30 4 Farmyard Manure (FYM) 156.98 5 MTFP NA 6 Grazing of outside animals 196.12 7 Water, housing, other amenities NA Total economic benefits 1147.81 B Loss of livestock (750/year) 112.50 C Total net benefits (A-B) 1035.31

    Notes: Based on the information obtained through FGDs with Maldhari households. The estimates are worked out by using average values. Fodder consumption of cow and buffalo was 20 and 25 kgs per day per animal respectively. Fuel consumption per household was estimated @ 6 kg per day. For timber the norm used is 10 cubic meters per household for 20 years. The FYM production per livestock was 8 tonnes per year and the net price received is Re 0.2 though, the market price is Re 0.5. The prices used for fodder, fuel wood and FYM were Rs 1,

    1.25 and 0.75 per kg respectively.

    Table 2: Distribution of Sample Householdsamong Study Villages

    Village Category of Households Landed Landed Landless and All with Irrigation without Irrigation Herder Communities

    Gir-West Kenedipur 18 10 15 43 Madhupur 15 10 15 40

    Gir-East Govindpur 14 10 15 39 Dadli 15 10 15 40 All 62 40 60 162

    Source: Primary Survey.

    Besides these there are 99 villages in the radius of 5-7 kms from the PA-boundary, inhabiting about 0.2 million people, and about

    0.1 million livestock population [Singh 2001].

    According to a study by Berwick (1996), the area under Gir-PA could support a total of about 21,000 cattle, and human population of 3.8 persons per sq kms. This suggests that the present population of both human as well as livestock have far exceeded the norms for sustainable resource use. Conceding that the vegetative cover and availability of fodder plus NTFP (including fuel wood) have improved since then, the area could support larger number of human, livestock, and wildlife population as compared to the earlier norms.13 In this backdrop, this section presents broad estimates of resource-dependence among people within and outside the PA. The estimates are based on the primary data, extrapolated with the help of the estimates of average production/consumption of fodder, fuel, and other resources per area/cattle/households in the region.

    Resource Use among Cattle Herders in Nesses

    An exercise was carried out for estimating direct use of PAresources among maldhari households living inside the sanctuary. Table 1 presents monetary value of the various resources, using average estimates obtained through focus group discussions (FGDs) with these households. As per the estimates in Table 1, value of direct use of forest resources is Rs 114.78 million per annum. Compared to this, the cost borne by the Maldharis is Rs 11.25 million. The net benefit is Rs 103.53 million. Besides the monetary costs, other disadvantages faced by these households are mainly in terms of lack of physical infrastructure, social and economic alienation, and conflicts with the forest department.

    The estimates of benefits and cost to the households living inside the PA prima facie, suggests substantial scope for strengthening conservation measures by adopting consultative/ participatory approaches. This is particularly important in the light of the fact that, while these people living inside the sanctuary draw upon various resources, they also contribute significantly towards sustenance of the ecology in several ways.14

    Resource Use by People in the Peripheral Villages

    Ascertaining the extent and nature of resource use by the people living in the periphery is difficult because the extraction is deemed as “illegal”. The estimates therefore, are subject to gross under-reporting by the households residing outside the PA. To resolve this problem we have tried to (a) gauge the broad magnitude of the households reporting use of fodder/fuel wood/ other resources from the PA; and (b) generate macro estimates of the resource use based on the average requirement per cattle/ households. The estimates are based on the primary data collected through census as well as sample surveys in four villages in the periphery.

    Results from the census survey of households provided basic profile of the study villages. It was observed that whereas 44 per cent of the households did not report ownership of land, about 32 per cent did not have any livestock. The average number of milch animals owned by the household was fairly small, i e,

    2.4. The estimate of livestock ownership excludes a large number of livestock that is brought to the region for grazing. The limited ownership of livestock in terms of coverage of households and average size is a manifestation of the shrinking quality as well as quantity of common property land resources (CPLRs) in the peripheral villages.

    Livestock and Fodder

    As many as 48 per cent of the households reported that forest (including the PA) is an important source of fodder (Table 3). Of these, 21 per cent obtained less than 25 per cent of their fodder requirement from the forest whereas, 27 per cent obtained more than that. To a large extent, the extraction is likely to be from the PA rather than from the peripheral forest, which is under highly degraded conditions as noted earlier. Since a substantially large proportion of households did not own any livestock the proportion of households accessing fodder from the PA works out to be 32.6 per cent of the sample households. This is fairly substantial given the fact that extraction of fodder from forest (PA) is legally prohibited, hence likely to be underreported.

    Alternatively, we tried to assess a more realistic scenario by working out total availability of fodder in the region using the norm of average productivity of 3,000 kg per hectare during a normal year [Tewari 1994].15 Accordingly the total production of fodder from the PA and the peripheral forest worked out to be around 0.4 million tonnes per year. Against this the estimated fodder requirement for livestock and other herbivores inside the PA is 0.24 million tonnes. This would leave a surplus of about

    0.17 million tonnes of fodder to support livestock @ an average consumption of 7-8 kg of fodder per day per animal. The surplus fodder could support around 21,000 large animals (i e, cow, buffalo and bullock) in the periphery.

    Assuming that about 50 per cent of the estimated livestock of about one lakh in the periphery consists of cows, buffalo and

    Table 3: Households Obtaining Fodder from Villagesand Forest Pastures

    Pastures Proportion of Fodder Obtained
    <25 Per Cent 26-50 Per Cent >50 Per Cent All
    Villages 35 23 26 84
    Forest** 21 14 13 48

    Notes: * Per cent of households owning livestock; **Include forest inside and in the periphery of PA. However, in most cases, the extraction is from the PA, since peripheral forests have lost their productivity due to excessive growing and faulty management practices [Singh 2001;78].

    Source: Primary survey.

    Table 4: Status of CPLRs in Selected Villages in the Periphery

    Details Ha

    Total area under pastures before PA-notification 5386.9 Area covered by PA 1585.4 Area reported as encroached 1015.4 Area under other use/transfer 576.0 Details No of villages Currently available for development area (Ha) 2211.0 < 15 Ha 12 16-50 Ha 8 > 50 Ha 9

    Status of the village pastures Medium-Poor 21 Very poor 4 Not applicable 4

    Source: Data collected from revenue records, triangulated through physical verification and discussions with informed persons within villages.

    bullocks, there may be 50,000 such livestock in the periphery.16 This may still leave a substantially large proportion of these livestock that need to be supported through fodder available from crop residue and other biomass purchased through market, in absence of which the livestock remain underfed resulting into a vicious cycle of low quality animal-large size of the stockovergrazing.17 Frequent droughts make the situation worse in terms of increased pressure on the PA.

    The actual scenario is likely to be more discouraging for, the estimates are based on somewhat favourable assumptions regarding both – productivity as well as requirement of fodder. Overall, the estimates indicate a fairly substantial demand-supply gap for fodder, which essentially may lead to conflicts in the region. Given the fact that fodder from the PA is not legally accessible, the conflicts is likely to be stronger than what is borne out of the above estimates.

    Fuel Wood and Timber

    Compared to fodder, people’s dependence on PA for fuel wood is much higher. It has been observed that as large as 74 per cent of the fuel wood requirement of households in the peripheral villages is being met by fuel collection from the forest or, through market purchase, which again is obtained mainly from the forest. These observations are substantiated by findings from some of the earlier study by Debnath, et al (2001), indicating that nearly 80 per cent of the households in peripheral villages depend on PA for meeting their fuel wood requirements.

    Collection of fuel wood however, varies significantly across households, depending on households’ capacity to shift to alternative sources like kerosene, cooking gas (LPG), and bio-gas on a long-term basis. While, most of the households in the peripheral villages use kerosene obtained from the ration shop, it provides for only a part of their fuel requirement. Accessing fuel wood, free of cost, from the forest is seen as a viable option vis-a-vis purchasing kerosene from open market.

    Table 5: Expectations from PA-Managementagainst Reduced Pressure on the PA

    Expectations Per Cent of HHs*

    Collection and distribution of fodder from PA 43.8 Regeneration of CPLRs 39.5 Alternative sources of income-employment 38.8 Improvement in quality of livestock 21.6 Reduction in livestock population 30.8 Protection of village pastures by community organisation 17.9 Fencing for protection from wild life 27.7

    Note: Based on multiple responses. Source: Primary Survey.

    Table 6: Support Required for AcceptingStringent Protection Measures

    Expectations Revenue villages (Per Cent)

    Adequate employment + self-employment schemes 40 Access to fodder and fuel 22 Pasture development on degraded vidis 3 Measures of agricultural development 4 Allocation of land to landless 8 Settling down the issue of land lost of the PA 7 Distribution of gobar gas plants and LPG 12 Other amenities 2 All response 100

    Source: Primary Survey.

    As per the general norm, fuel wood requirement in the region is six kgs per household per day. For the estimated number of 33,000 households, the total requirement would work out to be about 72,270 tonnes per year. Assuming that fuel wood constitutes three-fourth of the total requirement of these households, the demand for fuel wood in the periphery would be 54,202 tonnes per year. These estimates are far below the estimated availability of fuel wood of the tune of 0.19 million tonnes per year from the sanctuary area within the PA.18 It is thus, likely that many of the poor households especially, the landless, have been involved in extraction of fuel wood for commercial purposes (perhaps, in connivance with the more powerful in the village). This phenomenon had surfaced during discussions with different communities while assessing the status of CPLRs, as noted subsequently.

    Extraction of timber is strictly prohibited. However there are occasional evidences where people from the periphery indulge into illegal felling either directly or indirectly. It was reported during informal discussions with local communities, that about 5-7 per cent of households, mainly belonging to socio-economically vulnerable groups, in the nearby villages (i e, less than <3 kms radius) are involved in such activities. At times, poor households indulge in this high risk activity at the instance of those who are resourceful and have political lineage.

    Village Pastures: Status and Scope for Regeneration

    Degradation of village pastures, as noted earlier, is by far the most important source of conflict in the region. It is particularly severe in the villages that have lost entire or a major part of the CPLRs due to demarcation of PA-boundary. Recognising this, the management plan has laid special emphasis on development of village pastures especially, through the eco-development project. The actual implementation however, is found to be fairly complex.

    The major constraints emanate from several of the peripheral villages not having adequate area under pastures (or common property land resources-CPLRs) partly due to inclusion of village pastures in the PA-boundary. Encroachment and overgrazing have worsened the situation further.19

    An attempt was made to gauge the extent of the problem by obtaining information from 29 villages in the peripheral village. It was observed that 18 out of 29 villages have registered a decline in the size of CPLRs; of these 10 villages had lost a part of their pastures due to demarcation of the PA-boundary. Besides these 14 villages had reported at least some area under encroachment; of course, the phenomenon of encroachment is likely to be underestimated due to legal implications. As a result, 12 villages have no or less than about 15 hectares of CPLRs available for development and resource use by the rest of the village community; much of the CPLRs is of poor quality (see Table 4). Shrinking size as well as quality of CPLRs thus, emerged as highly contentious issue in the region.

    Management of Gir-PA

    The above description highlighted a situation of continued pressure and contestations over natural resources as well as wildlife, notwithstanding the significant achievements of the PAmanagement in the past few decades. The conflicts often take different forms of violence, mistrust and antagonism between the protectors and the people. This section tries to explore alternative management plan in the light of people’s perceptions about resource management in the region.

    Land Use Planning: People’s Perceptions

    The PA-management has already recognised the need for land use planning on a regional basis, which in turn, would necessitate appropriate structure of incentives and restrictions on resource use by different categories of households. In what follows we present some of the important observations on people’s perceptions about PA-management and expectations thereof by focusing on three aspects of land-use viz; regeneration of CPLRs; changing crop-mix and thereby use of ground water; and shifting of maldharis from interior to areas nearer to the PA-boundary.

    (a) On CPLRs: Our field study indicated that whereas access to fodder resources is the most important expectation, followed by regeneration of CPLRs, collective action for protecting the CPLRs was considered the least important, given the degraded status of the pastures (see Table 5). The major challenge is to remove/ reduce the encroachment on these resources. This, of course is difficult as has been widely observed in the case of similar interventions like watershed or eco-development projects in different parts of the country [Shah 1998].20

    There was however, a fair amount of consensus among households on the issue of conservation and ecological sustenance in Gir. We tried to ascertain what kind of support/compensation would be required by the households if, the protection mechanism is to become more stringent. In other words, we tried to capture people’s willingness to accept a stricter ban on the use of PAresources. The most important expectations, presented in Table 6 suggest that increased opportunities for income-employment topped the list (40 per cent), which is followed by assured supply of fodder and fuel wood (22 per cent), and then by access to alternative sources of fuel such as gobar gas plants, LPG etc, (12 per cent).

    Though not entirely new the responses suggest two important aspects. First, people do value conservation of ecosystem and the need for conservation as well as protection measures. And second, in absence of adequate support for fodder and fuel from the village pastures, the households may continue their partial dependence on the PA, notwithstanding their awareness about need for conservation. It is in this context that a holistic, rather than a compartmental approach for regeneration of pastures within and outside the PA becomes critical, where resources within the PA may provide the requisite leverage for mobilising collective action for development of pastures in the periphery.

    (b) On crop-land: Another issue pertains to exploring possibilities for changing the crop-mix and at the same time increasing productivity of bio-mass, a part of which could help bridging the supply gap for fodder. An attempt was made to examine these possibilities by comparing the relative net benefits from crops and farmers’ perception about willingness to shift to alternative cropping pattern (from water intensive crops such as sugarcane, cotton and wheat to the conventional crops like mango, groundnut and fodder) along with expected policy support. This was ascertained in the light of depletion of ground water table, reported by a large number of households.

    The results indicate that whereas a large majority of the farmers had shown reluctance towards changing the crop-mix, mainly on the ground of loss of income, several of them were willing to adopt technologies for improving water use efficiency (Table 7). While this is important, the need is to simultaneously address the issue of soil water conservation (SWC) in the upper catchments of seven the rivers originating from the PA. Absence of adequate measures for SWC inside the PA has led to an ironical situation wherein fields in the periphery have rich vegetation whereas land inside the sanctuary area is facing severe water shortage. The imbalance in availability of water and vegetation may give further impetus for human-wildlife conflict.21

    (c) Shifting of maldharis: The scenario pertaining to Maldharis is somewhat fluid, as infiltration of human/livestock population had continued for long, mainly due to inadequate/inefficient policies for resettlement of maldhari households in the past. According to Choudhary (2000), 269 out of the 592 households resettled outside the PA during the seventies, had re-entered the PA. Similarly, infiltration of livestock into the PA is fairly common, especially during droughts. Also there is little by way of information on the number of households and their livestock, besides their legal status, in the public domain. All these hamper meaningful consultations and effective solutions for PAmanagement.

    Given the fact that contemporary policies discourage involuntary relocation, the strategy in Gir-PA is to maintain the status quo. There is however, a move to shift maldharis households from more remote to areas in proximity of the PA-boundary [Singh M 2001]. This, apparently, creates a “win-win” situation where the households continue to enjoy privileges of being inside the PA, and at the same time, access benefits of markets, connectivity and other amenities available outside the PA. It is expected that these households may eventually accept the option for moving out, once they get used to the advantages of the “modern” lifestyle outside the economy. The initial response was found to be positive. Nevertheless, it could be short-lived, if the households do not find substantial improvements in access to resource outside the PA.

    The need is to adopt a twofold approach whereby incentives for maldhari households resettled outside to re-enter the PA is reduced, and at the same time disincentives in terms of better compliance for regulated use of resources is increased.

    Alternative Management Scenario

    The foregoing analysis highlighted critical importance of improving vegetation in order to simultaneously address the twin objectives of ecological regeneration and livelihood support. The next stage of PA-management therefore, poses a new set of issues and challenges such as: (a) habitat management which is conducive for the flagship wildlife species; (b) regeneration of vegetation that could sustain wildlife and also people’s needs;

    Table 7: Farmers’ Perceptions about Changesin the Cropping Pattern

    Reasons for Not Changing the Crop-mix Per Cent of Landed HHS

    Uncertainty of income 51.9 Increase in cost 12.7 Susceptible to pest, hence increase in cost 58.8 Low forage value 16.6 Not suitable for soil or soil degradation 36.3 Other 22.5 Total no of responses 203

    Note: No of respondents = 102. Source: Primary Survey.

    (c) sustainability of resource-use; (d) institutional mechanism for sharing of resources; and (e) effectiveness of the protection measures. These are closely inter-related, hence should form parts of holistic approach where the objective function should be to generate surplus resources, a part of which can be used for enhancing livelihood of the people while ensuring ecological sustainability.22

    The forest department has already worked out second phase of the management plan, envisaging special focus on regeneration of pastures, and significant expansion of the home range in order to sustain a population of about 500 lions [Singh and Pathak 2000].23 While the need for regional planning, based on watershed development, is well recognised among policymakers, the requisite legal, administrative, and financial support is difficult to mobilise. Equally important is the issue of recognising people’s stakes not only in management, but also in resources in the region. Adequate data-base in public domain also assume crucial importance in this context.

    The official thinking, as noted earlier, has been to tighten legal restrictions on resource use, and at the same time expand the area for territorial and ranging requirements of wildlife in the PA.24 Alternatively, approach like eco-development project may create institutional-base for negotiating incentives and reciprocal commitments for conservation by the village communities. But, an approach like this may work only if it ensures a long-term process of conservation-induced development, rather than a settling down of people’s stakes against one-shot compensation. The approach may also require regulated use of the forest resources, especially from pastures, for promoting protection and regeneration of pastures in the periphery.

    The following aspects may deserve special attention while moving in the direction of a comprehensive approach discussed above:

  • (1) Ensuring fodder supply initially from the PA, and subsequently from peripheral forest may work as an effective strategy to kick off the process, and eventually break the vicious circle of degradation and conflicts over resource use.25 This would imply treating the CPLRs within and outside the PA as integrated resource. Involvement of professional-developmental agencies for managing fodder supply within the broad framework of sustainable regeneration and use, may be explored.26
  • (2) A fresh look at the conditions of maldhari households that have been resettled outside the PA is of critical importance. Longterm engagement with communities within and in periphery of the PA, is inevitable. Exploring area based approach and collective action for development of land water resources, especially for management of fodder supply deserves special attention.
  • (3) Appropriate measures for soil water conservation in the catchments within the PA. Coordination with watershed development projects, funded by other departments/programmes would help in overcoming financial obstacles, and at the same time, avoid duplication
  • (4) Provision of subsidy and other incentives for changing the crop-mix from water intensive to water efficient crops. Since the transition involves a long gestation period, besides substantial support in terms of technology and markets, a special task force may be set up for facilitating the shift.
  • (5) Setting up of community based institutions for facilitating planning, implementation, and compliance of the norms for resource use and payment of subsidies/compensation. While the EDP was to evolve an institutional mechanism for negotiating
  • incentives and compensatory commitments for reducing pressure on the PA, the actual experience was not so encouraging.27 Involvement of civil society organisations, committed to the dual objectives of conservation and sustainable livelihood, may help especially in creating multi-stakeholder platforms for sharing of information, negotiating costs and benefits among different categories of households, and above all, promoting the cause of ecological sustainability.

    A comprehensive approach suggested above is based on three basic principles: First, soil-water conservation assuming top priority. Second, a more balanced allocation of water-resource within and outside the PA. And third, using a part of the regenerated resources from PA, as incentives for reducing unregulated pressure on the forest. This suggests need for adopting area-based approach. This may provide adequate leverage for negotiating and balancing ecological and livelihood needs within the region.

    Summing Up

    The central argument of the paper is that participatory approaches, at best, may yield only limited results unless the management approach comes up with a holistic view of the interface between ecological and economic services emanating from the PA. This would call for going beyond the existing legal framework. Since people’s livelihood dependence on forest varies across households owing to differential socio-economic and political characteristics, it may open up avenues for negotiations and, at times, cross subsidisation among different groups within the village communities. Institutional arrangements would have a central role to play while adopting an inclusive approach for PA-management.

    While the present management plan has already recognised critical importance of regeneration of resources within and outside the PA, interdependence between the two and its implications for mobilising people’s commitment towards protection of the PA need to be clearly spelt out. Centrality of soil-water conservation in the upper catchments of watersheds (i e, inside the PA), as a precondition for regeneration of village pastures in the periphery, needs to be strengthened further. Similarly it is essential to acknowledge the fact that overlooking people’s stakes, and being blind to their livelihood need, may perpetuate over-exploitation of resources by people, at times, in connivance with the protectors. Lack of transparency may aggravate the situation of mutual distrust.

    Pooling of resources from pastures within the PA as well as in the peripheral villages is important for bridging the demand-supply gaps in fodder and fuel wood. This may provide effective leverage for renegotiating people’s stakes on the one hand, and commitments for compliance to regulate resource-use, and eventually reduce pressure on the PA. Setting up appropriate legal-institutional arrangements is crucial. This would call for identification of appropriate incentives and restraints in the light of a more detailed assessment of people’s livelihood base, and their dependence on the PA within a regional setting.

    There cannot be any blueprint for participatory approaches nor, could it work within the stipulated time frame of four or five years. Nevertheless, one could reiterate some of the important elements of an alternative approach, which is essentially dynamic, interactive and above all, based on a minimum amount of mutual trust between people and the PA-management. A critical missing link that needs immediate attention is creating a space in public domain for exchange of information, negotiations, and informed decisions.

    EPW

    Email: postmaster@gidr.ac.in

    Notes

    [The author wishes to thank Mahesh Rangarajan for detailed comments and suggestions on the earlier drafts.]

    1 The preservationist approach has been further critiqued for perpetuating the myth of pristine areas devoid of human life. It is argued that the approach is “premised upon an equilibrium model of bio-diversity, which suggests that natural systems being finely, delicately balance, are easily destabilised by human interventions” [Bhattacharya 2001]

    2 The TTF discusses at length the coexistence agenda, going beyond the monolithic view of relocation of people.

    3 The underlying rationale of the eco-development project (introduced mainly by the Global Environment Facility and World Bank), is to promote development in the periphery so as to be able to protect the core of forest as well as wildlife within the PA [Munasinghe and McNeely 1997].

    4 For further details see, Kothari et al 1996, p 26. 5 This however, is only a second best solution if viewed purely from the viewpoint of conservation.

    6 For details of the studies focusing economic aspects see, Badola and Hussain (2003); Dayal (2006); Ghate (2005); Karanth (2005); Kabra (2006).

    7 A quota of 40 households were selected using stratified random sampling from three categories, viz, landed with irrigation (15); landless without irrigation (10); landless and cattle herders (15). Whereas one household in the category of landed with irrigation had to be dropped during analysis due to incomplete information, the sample had exceeded the quota in another village, fairly close to the PA.

    8 The paper draws upon the larger study carried out by the author under Environmental Economics Research Committee, supported by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India and The World Bank, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai. For details see Shah (2003).

    9 The history of protecting lions from the potential risk of extinction goes back to the commendable efforts made by the princely state of Junagadh, home of a part of the Gir forest. For details see Chavada 2006.

    10 According to the official estimates, population of lion in Gir and Barada, another home range in the area, was around 300 in 2001. By 2005, the population seems to have increased to 500 though the estimate is subject to debate [ToI 2005]. Significant increase in the lion population has led some experts to recommend shifting a part of the lion population to alternative location, e g, in Madhya Pradesh. Alternatively, the forest department of the Gujarat state has pleaded for obtaining “protected” status to the adjacent area, constituting extended home range of lion [Singh 2001].

    11 Some of the important features are: highest concentration of the top carnivores, and probably single largest population of marsh crocodiles in the country of forest cover (about 900 sq kms) with crown density of over 10 per cent, which includes 17.3 millions of timber trees; catchments of seven near perennial rivers, and providing watershed services to the peripheral areas; promoting agricultural prosperity by feeding into seven medium irrigation schemes; large tracts of pastures, within (about 400 sq kms) and outside the PA (about 84 hectares per village), supporting about 50,000 MT of fodder to (partially) support over a lakh of livestock, especially, during droughts [Singh and Kamboj 1995].

    12 See for details, Narayana (1996); Oza (2005).

    13 The issue has surfaced in the wake of the current debate on poaching of lions in Gir. Also see, discussion in Tiger Task Force, on keeping large tracts of forest as inviolate areas, and also about large tracts

    of ‘multiple – use’ areas for peaceful coexistence [Karanth 2005].

    14 Two important aspects are noteworthy in this context. First, grazing of livestock with a well laid out seasonal rotation helps sustaining biodiversity of grasses; this may also help reducing the incidence of forest fire, which has a high probability of occurrence under the dryhot weather in the region. Another ecological function is that of keeping up the chain of herbivorous species, in absence of which, damage to agro-ecological system may have been more severe. The issue however, has remained debatable.

    15 There is no systematic assessment of the productivity of different categories of pastures in and around the PA. These estimates have been obtained by assuming that: (i) about 460 sq kms of area inside the PA is degraded or highly degraded with negligible fodder production; and (ii) 50 per cent of the remaining forest area within as well as in the periphery will have the stipulated level of average productivity, i e, 3,000 kgs ha.

    16 This is reconfirmed by the estimates obtained from the primary survey, suggesting an average of 2.4 milch animals plus bullock per household. The peripheral villages have estimated number of about 33,000 households. Assuming that 32 per cent of the households do not own any livestock, the number of livestock owning households reduces to about 22,400. The total number of large animals other (i e, cow, buffalo, bullock) thus works out to be around 54,000 using the estimated average of 2.4 per household.

    17 It is estimated that the crop residue may support roughly 19-20,000 large livestock, which may still leave about 10-13,000 such livestock and the remaining 46-50,000 small livestock (mainly sheep and goat) that need to be supported by the biomass resources within the region.

    18 For details see Ali (1990).

    19 Unfortunately, the data pertaining to encroachment as well as degradation are neither available, nor possible to generate because of the severely contentious nature of the problem especially, in the case of encroachment.

    20 It was observed that in most of these villages Eco-development project had succeeded mainly in terms of extending financial support for development of private property such as land and irrigation, besides providing help for getting alternative devices for fuel, building material, or farm inputs.

    21 Recognising the conflicts over use of water, Pathak (1996) noted that “during periods of scarcity, livestock assisted by more intelligent keepers, tend to use the maximum water and fodder resources, marginalising the wild ungulates” [p 231]. While the issue is debatable, increased population of lions has certainly resulted in increased incidence of straying on the side of the vegetative river bank or crop fields.

    22 Recent literature highlights a wide range of management approaches to deal with the issues of the functional relationship between parks and agriculture on the one hand, and competition between wildlife and livestock on the other.

    23 Regional planning will call for ecological development in the entire region. This in turn would require significant increase in fund allocation. Besides this, there are serious difficulties in seeking inter-departmental coordination for implementing pasture development plans prepared by the forest department. Linking up with the ongoing schemes for watershed and wasteland development thus becomes essential [Singh 2001].

    24 It is contemplated that the expanded home range would spread over 16 instead of three blocks at present. This would imply impacting larger human as well as livestock population in the region.

    25 An important apprehension among the practitioners is that participatory approaches, in absence of adequate experience, may lead to unrealistic expectations from the people. Nevertheless, recognising the need for taking care of the genuine needs of the people through initiatives like EDPs, it is recommended that participatory approaches should be tried out first in local degraded ecosystems [Pathak 1996; p 232].

    26 This is important because depending on regulation and restrictions alone may leads to conflicts, corruption and over-exploitation. At the same time too much of emphasis on people’s participation may lead to neglect of some of the basic functions of conservation, habitat management, and long-term sustainability.

    27 In actual practice the focus was to trade-off resource extraction from the PA against one time assistance in the form of cooking gas; building material; fencing to the crop-fields; deepening of privately owned irrigation-wells; and at times, construction of check dam or plantation on community land, etc. Since most of the benefits had accrued on individual as against community basis, the larger vision for moving towards a sustainable land use – within and outside the PA – is seldom addressed.

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