Report On Workshop Proceedings

Community Based Conservation & Ecotourism in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve District
Oct 2001 Chamoli, Uttaranchal, INDIA

History
‡ The mountain state of Uttaranchal was formed in November 2000. ‡ With a legacy of backwardness and neglect, the Bhutia tribal mountain dwelling people hoped they would be able to make their destiny henceforth.
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Marginalizing Locals
‡ The listing of the area as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for Natural Diversity and as a National Park in 1982 was NOT a cause of celebration for locals as their traditional rights were threatened. ‡ ³Vanaadhikar´ activists of the region considered efforts of tourism experts from Indian Mountaineering Federation too as an attempt to deny any fruits of tourism development to local communities.Vanaadhikar had emerged as a platform for the struggling communities of the protected areas of Uttaranchal.
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Equity for Local Community
‡ Alliance for Development, a network of grassroot NGO¶s and Gram Sabha Lata (Elected Village Council) organized the 3 day workshop. ‡ They wished to assert their right to equitable and eco sensitive tourism in the region. ‡ They also wished to play a proactive role in conservation of their area.
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Pro People Conservationism
‡ The villagers had released the Nanda Devi Declaration on Oct 14, 2001 to address conservation and equitable tourism issues. ‡ The tribal women who had hugged the trees to prevent their felling had been in the forefront of the pre Chipko movement . ‡ A book on the post Chipko movement titled Sangharshnama was released by the surviving women squad.
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Day 1- 29 Oct 2001
‡ The session was chaired by members of Environment and Human Rights Law Network (EHRLI), Indian People¶s Tribunal and Kalpvriksha. ‡ Local leaders explained the reasons for defying the ban inside the core zone of the National Park and the mass entry of the community inside the core zone in 1998. ‡ It was pointed out that no government agency or study team would bother to even hear the views of local affected community. They complained the functioning of World Natural Heritage site was destroying their unique culture.
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Session 1- Recommendation
‡ It was recommended that there is need to study impact of restrictions on social, economic and cultural lives of local communities. ‡ Explore possibilities of legal action against concerned government agencies and also UNESCO. ‡ Henceforth every social research on local community of NDBR must inform local Gram Panchayats of objectives of study, research methodology and submit copy of final report to the elected Gram Pradhans of the study area.

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Impact Assessment Team
‡ The case of Medha Lekan, Bastar was cited where the Gram Sabha has developed a scrutiny system for study and research. ‡ It was pointed out that Biosphere has no legal validity. ‡ It was recognised that MNC¶s need not be the main culprits but the Indian pharmaceutical giants could be equally interested in exploiting the rich biodiversity.
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Core zone Field Trip - 30 Oct 2001
‡ An outline of the community based ecotourism model desired by villagers, was presented under a Nanda Devi Ecotourism Development Authority. ‡ Institutional structure proposed for this was 80% local, 10% government, 10% resource institutions.
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Field Trip
‡ Outstation participants were exposed to the rich biocultural diversity of the region. ‡ Traditional welcome was given at village Raine, birth place of Chipko movement. ‡ Folk dances and songs event by Bhutia women. ‡ Rich and local cuisine offered by the locals.
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Nanda Devi EDA Objectives.
‡ Encourage tourism in the valley. ‡ Monitor equity, quality,growth and develop integrated tourism plan. ‡ Encourage entrepreneurs. ‡ Invite marketing and financial support.
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Tourism Activities
‡ Trekking, cycling, camping. ‡ Pilgrimage and religious tourism. ‡ Cultural and historical tourism. ‡ Mountaineering training. ‡ Gaura Devi Museum of Bio-Cultural Diversity
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Employment Avenues
‡ Hotel, Restaurant, Guest Houses ‡ Trained guides and Instructors ‡ Transport, Parking, Security ‡ Hatcheries & Trout Fisheries ‡ Water sports ‡ Museum centred activities
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Support Requirements
‡ Institutional development. ‡ Alternative energy planning. ‡ Human resource development. ‡ Integrated Tourism plan development and linkages with worldwide travel industry. ‡ Finance and National and Global Marketing
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Day 3- 31 Oct 2001
‡ Participants relived history of forest movement in the valley & expressed need to take Chipko to its logical conclusion ie community based conservation in NDBR. ‡ That UNESCO, UNEP and World Bank should be asked to clarify position on biospheres and outline their commitment to local community. ‡ The impact of development and conservation based displacement of traditional populations. ‡ Actively pursue pro people conservation and equitable tourism agenda in solidarity with struggling Bhutia tribal community
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Citation
‡ Gram Sabha LATA. Workshop Proceedings ‡ Contributed to the Mountain Forum On-line Library by Sunil Kainthola dhaar@vsnl.com . ‡ More at http://www.mtnforum.org/resources/library/gslat 02a.htm

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