Environmental Protection through Incentive for Conservation (EPIC) Luce Foundation Research Assistantship Columbia Business School

Case Study on Van Panchayats (Forest Councils) of Uttarakhand State in India

 Manoj Bhatt School of International and Public Affairs Columbia University New York, NY- 10027 USA

Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand , Manoj Bhatt, SIPA , Columbia University, EPIC Luce Research Assistantship, 2007

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1. Background
1.1) Uttarakhand
State owned forests had been mainly managed by the forest department throughout India. The situation has been different in the Uttarakhand state of India where a significant area of the state owned forests has been managed by rural communities through around 6777 community institutions called Van Panchayats. However, since 1990s, the Indian government’s Joint Forest Management (JFM) program, based mainly on the worldwide recognition of the importance of community participation in forest management and the success of the Van Panchayats, has been creating partnership between village communities and the forest department to protect forest resources. The Van Panchayats exists only in the Uttarakhand state of India as an unique examples of bottom-up initiative for forest management. This system of enduring community-government partnership was established in the 1930s during British rule. Uttarakhand , formerly a part of Uttar Pradesh State, was formed on November 9, 2000 as the 27th State of the Indian Union. This Himalayan State borders China in the north and Nepal to the east, while its neighboring States are Himachal Pradesh to the west and Uttar Pradesh in the south. Generally, the average annual rainfall ranges between 200 and 250 cm; threefourth of this occurs in the rainy season (mid-June to mid-September). The mean monthly minimum temperature ranges between 2.0 (January) and 15.0°C (July) and mean maximum temperature ranges between 4.0 (January) and 28.0°C (May). The region is mainly hilly (almost 93 per cent) with almost 2/3 area under a diverse variety of forests. The total area of Uttarakhand state is 53,483 sq. km. The altitude ranges from 300 to 3,500 meters creating three distinct physiographic regions, the Himalayas, the Shivaliks and the plains (see appendix-1). It is endowed with diverse vegetation types, grasslands, high altitude glaciers and a vast stretch of rivers, rivulets and wetlands. Out of total 13 districts, 11 districts are hilly and 2 districts fall in the Terai agro-climatic zone. This newly formed Himalayan state is blessed with natural beauty of glaciers, snow-clad mountains, peaks, beautiful valleys, skiing slopes and dense forests. Two of India's mightiest Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand , Manoj Bhatt, SIPA , Columbia University, EPIC Luce Research Assistantship, 2007 2

About 58 per cent of the State’s population is dependent on agriculture while it contributes around 28.1 per cent and the number of the large farmers.37 per cent. and pulses. distance from the village. Although socio-economic differentiation has increased in last few decades . and 70% under 1 hectare). subsistence agriculture is the main occupation for majority of the population with high dependence on common forests and water. SIPA . Increase in population has been making the land ownership size more smaller in every generation due to distribution of ownership among the families of the new generation. Tenant farming and sharecropping are rare. Further.19 per cent)2.20 per cent in population during the decade 1991-2001.489 million with 74. as women’s burden of firewood gathering increased. Absence of land Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . The population density per sq. 2007 3 . The share of net sown area is only 13.75 per cent to 72. peas and beans for cash income. having more than 10 hectares of land. This has meant an increased burden on the women.5 hectares in size. Agriculture is mainly for home consumption. The total population (in 2001) was 8. A slightly bigger share goes to the elder son of the family. making agriculture labor intensive and uneconomical. The pattern of land ownership is unlike that found in the rest of India. The State has registered an increase of 19.57 hectare.28 per cent between 1991 and 2001. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. Most Uttarakhand farmers are owner-cultivators.5 per cent of the State’s GDP. altitude. as against the all-India average of 324. size of the terrace fields.93 hectare as against the National Average of 1. village communities are relatively homogenous compared to high social stratification in the neighboring Uttar Pradesh State. Due to these traditions. and landlessness is relatively low. several kinds of millets.1 Despite the limited availability of arable land in the region. A negative relationship between distances traveled/ time spent for firewood collection (average time spent by women for firewood collection increased by 60% in last quarter of the century4) and the schooling of girl children in this region has been observed.800 meters. Manoj Bhatt. soil type. Columbia University. Traditionally only the males get share in their parent’s property.6 per cent as against the National Average of 43. the Ganga and the Yamuna take birth in the glaciers of Uttarakhand Himalayas and makes it among the most holy places for Hindu and Sikh pilgrims.34 percent population living in rural areas. The irrigated land is only 12. Total literacy has increased from 57. all the sons get a mix of different quality of land e. The principle crops grown are rice wheat. is 159.g. The total sown area is only 13. is minimal (0.rivers. Some villages grow potatoes. For example. not only the size is reducing but the land ownership is also getting scattered/ fragmented. irrigation status. Land distribution is relatively equal with rare cases of land holdings of over 2 hectares. km. The average size of land holding in the State is 0. slope and face. The land holding share of small and marginal farmers to the total holdings is 88. has been a factor in out migration of the male labor force to the big cities. agricultural productivity is affected negatively. Every son gets the share of land based on the prevailing social norms. The majority of the cultivated land lies between 900 and 1.37 percent of the total area of the state. Small size of land ownership with its increasing fragmentation and the absence of alternative economic opportunities. who have to manage the farms along with household chores.62 percent of the total sown area3. and landholdings generally small and limited to family farms (approximately 50% of all landholdings are less than 0.

In some cases women have been empowered to become effective managers of the rural household economy.3 for brief history). SIPA . 11% Very Dense Forest : 8% Modestly Dense Forest : 27% Open Forest : 11% Non Forest : 54% 54% 27% 8% Non-Forest Moderately Dense forest Very Dense Forest Open Forest Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . From this forest cover only 8 % fall in the category of very dense forests (with canopy density 70% and above). Van Panchayats are recognized under a specific state act and currently manage around 15% of the forest land and around 21% of actual forests (see section 1. According to a study of Forest Survey of India ( FSI 2003)7.2a for details) of Uttarakhand State. only 44.70 %). However.2a) The Health of Forests The recorded forest area of the Uttaranchal is 34.74 % is actual forest defined as forest (canopy density >10). These institutions are called Van Panchayats (Hindi for Forest Councils. the total forest cover ( forest cover defined by FSI consists of all lands having tree canopy density of more than 10 % that can be interpreted from satellite data) in Uttaranchal state is only 45. and 11% in the category of open forest (with canopy cover less than 10%). 27% fall in the category of moderately dense forests (with canopy density between 40.. Manoj Bhatt.777 van Panchayats in Uttaranchal covering an area of 5.rights for women has meant denial of credit5. which constitutes 64.662 sq.81% land is designated to be “forest land” mapped by the government. Van Panchayats are unique institutions of Uttarakhand and form the only example of enduring “government. Van Panchayats are locally elected bodies or voluntary groups of local people that govern the local forests to fulfill the needs of their subsistence agriculture in a sustainable and equitable manner. 64. km.see section 1.2) Forests in Uttarakhand 1. Columbia University. The hill districts of Uttarakhand state evolved several thousand village institutions for management of the forests in the beginning of the 20th century under British rule.community” partnership for forest management all over Asia6. As stated above. At present there are 6. 1.310 square kilometers. 2007 4 .74% of its total geographical area.81 % of its total geographical area. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship.

500 feet): Silver Fir ( Abies Pindrow). Rhododendron Western Himalayan Sub-tropical pine forests (~2. Snow Leopard.7. oak (Quercus leucotrichophora). six wildlife sanctuaries.000 feet) : Chir Pine (Pinus Roxburgia) Himalayan Sub-tropical Broad Leaf Forests: ( ~1.2 c) Bio-diversity The Due to the variation in altitude the region is endowed with rich flora and fauna. grass land meadows.000-2. Western Himalayan Sub-alpine Conifer Forests ( ~9500-12. one UNESCO World Heritage Site and two elephant ranges8. Spotted Deer Blue Mountain Sheep .000. The region has six national parks. orchids etc. The diversity of animal species: The Animal diversity is also rich with mammal species like Elephant. Tiger. Birch. Manoj Bhatt.000 feet ): Dwarf Rhododendron Shrub.2b) Types of Forests Uttarakhand has a diverse range of forests which include the following major types: Western Himalayan Alpine Shrub and Meadows ( ~12. high altitude Oak. rhododendrons. orchids. 2007 5 . Dry Bamboo.000 . Jackal .500 feet): Oak (Quercus Species).000 feet ): Sal (Shorea Robusta). Musk Deer . Columbia University. Ibex . Kafal (Myrica Esculenta). Deciduous Alpine Shrub.000 feet) : Moist Sivalik Sal. Leopard Cat. Seasam (Dalbergia Sisu) Tarai Duar Savana and Grassland (~ below 1. Barking Deer. Brown Bear. Himalayan Palm Civet. Cypress. Asiatic Black Bear.. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. Mountain Goat . grasses 1. The forest of the State supports a wide range of biodiversity (please see appendix-3 for details) The diversity of plant species: The forests are unique with impressive plant diversity such as conifers. Himalayan Weasel. the Kumaon-Garhwal Himalaya and the Shivaliks lie in the State. Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . Himalayan Cedar.15. one biosphere reserve. Sambhar deer. Primula spp. Clawless Otter. Goat-Antelope . High altitude Oak species Western Himalayan Broad Leaf Forests ( ~ 5000-9. Dry Sivalik Sal. Spruce. chotar (Berberis vulgaris). maple (Acer spp.).1. Two major ‘hotspots’ of significance to biodiversity viz. SIPA .

html) the state government may.): 131 Grand Total : 34651 Total Van Panchayats (Forest Councils) Forest: 5310 (Note*: According to the Indian Forest Act 1927. The forest were not regulated by the government before the British rule in this region but the use of the forest was informally regulated by the communities through customary rules and beliefs. Columbia University. Rat Snake. jays.3a) History10 A major area of the present day Uttarakhand came under the British rule in 1815. Forests within these boundaries were considered the common property of an identified user group ( a village or a group of villages) generally dependent on the same pool of ecosystem Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . declare “protected forest” any forest-land or waste-land which is not included in a reserved forest but which is the property of Government.nic.2d) Area of Forest in Different Category 9 (area in sq. The area ruled by British government in Uttarakhand was called Kumaon but which included the present day Kumaon division and a major portion of the present day Garhwal division. 2007 6 . or over which the Government has proprietary rights. Fan-throated Lizard . bird species : crows.3) Van Panchayats (Forest Councils) : 1. barbets. by notification in the Official Gazette. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship.) 1. Himalayan Woodpecker Lammergeier (bearded vulture). snow partridges. Himalayan Cuckoo. Villages evolved specific forest boundaries to be used by a specific user group. Slender Coral Snake. pheasants. Rhesus Macaque Common Langur. Manoj Bhatt. flycatchers. Himalayan Whistling Thrush. vultures.in:80/legis/forest/forest4. nightjars. km) i) Reserved Forest : 24637 Forest Department : 24261 Van Panchayats (Councils): 348 Other Government Departments: 28 ii) Protected Forest* : 9883 Protected Forest under Forest Department: 99 Unclassified & Vested Forest Under Forest Department 53 Civil Forests under Revenue Department: 4769 Under the Control of Van Panchayats ( Forest Councils ): 4962 iii) Private Forest (Municipal & Cantonment etc. (http://envfor. snow pigeons. snow cocks.Wild Boar. 1. Black-headed Sibia Black Bulbul. reptile species : Gecko . or to the whole or any part of the forest produce of which the Government is entitled. King Cobra . Flying Squirrel . SIPA .

encouraged the government to impose more restrictions on people and protect and plant trees with higher commercial value. There was no formal authority to regulate the misuse or overuse of the forests but it was achieved by establishing a set of social norms. to reserve the forests for exclusive use of the government. collection of uncultivated food. SIPA . The Chir Pine was mostly in the forest of middle heights having relatively higher density of population. timber. now recognized by the government were also known as ‘assi sala boundary’. drinking water. The ecosystem services was generally used for the subsistence and not for the commercial use. building materials like stones and clay. now equipped with the policy tools provided by the Indian Forest Act 1878. implemented the first bhumi bandobast (land settlement) in this area in 1823. The commercial importance of this mid-Himalayan forests. W. 2007 7 . Manoj Bhatt. This led to the imposition of forest settlements of 1911-17 establishing strong state control over the Chir Pine forests by making them ‘reserve forests’ to be used by the government. This land settlement categorized the forest and placed a part of the land under reserve category by establishing state ownership over it. Columbia University. Trail. The non-private land falling within the ‘assi. This initial land settlement is also known as ‘assi-sal bandobast’ (year eighty settlement) as it happened in the eighteenth year of the Hindu calendar (Vikram Samvat 1880). These boundaries played a very important role in establishing ownership for management and use of the forests by a defined user group. Under the new land settlement of 1911-17.services. and water for irrigation. Consequently the forests having plants with commercial value became important for the government. In this land settlement. documented and officially recognized by the British government in which the user rights and customary practices of the villagers related to subsistence needs were clearly established. which were not on the privately owned land. and more agricultural land requiring ecosystem services to cultivate it. strict regulation was considered essential. hence. Development in the technology of antiseptic treatment of the Chir Pine (Pinus roxburghii) wood to make it usable for railway sleepers and the new technologies of treating Chir Pine resin to make high quality turpentine increased the commercial value of the Himalayan forests. This conception of ownership by a specified user group with in a specified geographical boundary was essential to enforce social norms on the user group.sal bandobast’ was designated civil forest and was placed under the control of the revenue department. The first commissioner of Kumaon. The demand and as well as advancement in the means of transportation encouraged the government. Advancement in the network of railways in the second half of the nineteenth century in India created a huge demand for railway sleepers from the forests of Uttarakhand. the use of reserve forests were restricted by allotting specified quantities of timber which were allowed to take only after proper permission from the government forest officials. grazing. The traditional boundaries. These services were: wood fuel. agriculture implements. and evolve a pattern of use suitable for everyone in the group. Indian Forest Act 1878 was passed and forest department was created. hunting. To meet these demands. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. village boundaries were demarcated. G. leaves and grasses for animal fodder and composting. Use of the newly designated civil forests was not very restrictive Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . the British Government simply refused to recognize the traditional boundaries documented in year 1823. In doing so.

This policy change transformed the forests conceptually owned by the communities with a defined user group virtually into a ‘common’. The outsiders could not be prevented to overuse or cut-down the forests by the communities with in their assi-sal boundries. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. Now the civil forests previously managed by the customary practices were owned by the government without any mechanism to safeguard them. The routine patterns of resource use was set upside down. As mentioned. graze cattle. for their own benefit. The villages were not in a position of enforcing the customary practices on their members any more. Columbia University. from civil. Van Panchayats act as local authority for forest management with certain rights of making rules. fines on rule-breakers and new rules and regulations. and huge provocative fires in the commercially important Chir forests. The Forest Council Rules were amended in 1976 and in 2001. The councils are Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . 1931. class I and class II reserved forests falling within their assi-sal boundaries. arrests. lop trees. The Forest Council Rules of 1931 formalized the committee’s recommendations and a new category of forests was created under which villagers could apply to form a Van Panchayat to manage. The realization of the important role played by the communities in forest management and the protests by the communities convinced the committee. The restrictions on the use of the reserve forest which was now termed as class II forest remained in force under the jurisdiction of the forest department. and amending and enforcing them regarding their forests. deliberate violations of forest laws on a large scale. In this sense this category was more a statement of intent than an actual change in the status of restrictions like that happened in the case of the reserve category forests. a government order allowed all bona fide residents of Kumaon to exercise all user rights i. The law was on the side of the violators. cut grass in class I reserves. Councils in most of the villages meet frequently. to discuss issues related to appointment and work of forest guard(s).because the revenue department were not under very restrictive since the revenue department did not have proper human and financial resources to enforce them. The same was done with most Oak forests and small areas of non exploitable Chir forests within the reserve forests. In 1925. (set-up by the government to examine local grievances in 1921) to recommend the formation of Van Panchayats. but there was a fundamental change in the conception of ownership.e. SIPA . These protests forced the government to change its policy and eventually almost all the restrictions imposed in the civil forests (which were mostly the forests falling with in assi-sal boundaries ) were removed. The changes made in the policy in 1976 ended the taking any application to form new Van Panchayats that includes any part of the reserve forest. 2007 8 . The Forest Councils are bodies of nine members elected by all the adults of the village and approved by the government. This resulted in massive protests. The first Van Panchayat was formed in the same year i. Manoj Bhatt. The forest depleted very fast in that period and the British government soon realized that communities are a major player in protecting the forests. thousands of petty violations.e. there was not much change in the restrictions. These were now designated Class I reserves and handed over to the jurisdiction of the revenue department. twice in a month in some villages and at least quarterly in most of the villages.

1. or subdivided The extent of exploitation of any forest produce from the Van Panchayat forests shall be as provided in the microplan.supported by the revenue and the forest departments to facilitate rule enforcement and the maintenance of vegetation in the forests. Formation. term and functions: Application to the sub-divisional magistrate made by at least one fifth of the adult who or whose families have resided in that village area for at least ten years will begin the process of Van Panchayat formation . mortgaged. SIPA . shell be allowed to exercise rights of users. Manoj Bhatt. lopping of branches of trees.3b) Van Panchayats : Governance and State Policy12 A. cutting of grass. A study11 by Safia Aggrawal suggests that while Van Panchayat institutions have had strong interest in conservation of natural resources and have been very successful in managing their forests sustainably. protected forest or ) will not be declared as Van Panchayats land if there is objection on it by least one third or more adults. All customary rights of the rights holders such as collection of fallen fuel wood. Council-governed forest land can not be converted to any other use or sold. The term of the council will be five years. The Deputy commissioner can dissolve a council in case of repeated mismanagement. and continue to be manage more effectively than private and government forests. the socio-economic changes did not always result in decline in the effectiveness of the Van Panchayats: the effects differed among them. However. In case the reserve forest land is requested in the application. Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . The boundaries under the control of the forest council will be approved by the deputy commissioner. it will not be accepted without the approval of the state government. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. and hold fresh elections The Van Panchayat shall prepare a five year micro-plan and annual implementation plan for conservation and protection of the plants and bio-diversity falling with in their forest land It shall protect the Van Panchayat land from encroachment It shall fix boundary pillars. Membership. 2007 9 . The proposed land (it could be reserve forest. Columbia University. officials and decision making All village residents and others whose rights are recoded in the list of rights with in whose settlement boundary such forests lie. “the past two decades of socio-economic transitions taking place in this region is resulting in a rapid decline of local institutions of commons management and effectiveness of these institutions”. B. shall continue to be governed under the provisions of micro-plan. make boundary walls to protect the forests. The case now focus to a discussion of the differences among Van Panchayats.

5. 7. 8. Functioning of the Van Panchayats: The Van Panchayat may form by-laws suitable for its specific needs for conservation and protection of the forests. Columbia University. SIPA . 9. The profile of the 4 Forest Councils is given in a table and brief story below. including one for the schedule caste or schedule tribe families. 3. 1. The Van Panchayat shall prepare an annual budget and keep all the records.The Van Panchayat shell consist of nine members. 1. Manoj Bhatt. The information included in the table below was Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . 2007 10 . The income expenditure of the Van Panchayats shall be the subject of periodic audit by the government. 4. will be reserved for the women members. 13 Name of District Pauri Garhwal Chamoli Rudrapyayag Uttarkashi Tehri Garhwal Dehradun Haridwar Almora Bageshwar Pithoragarh Champawat Nainital Udham Singh Nagar Total Number of Forest Councils 1633 533 249 68 85 159 0 1444 454 1046 611 495 0 6777 2) Field Study We have studied 4 Forest Councils in Uttarakhand. The elected council members will elect the council head The council head can be removed by the two third majority of the council members The Council officials must meet at least once every three months.3c) Van Panchayats: Total number and district-wise distribution13 S. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. 10. 6. One seat from the remaining five seats shell be reserved for the schedule caste or schedule tribes. The by-laws shall come into force by approval by the government official Every Van Panchayat shall maintain records as prescribed by the state government and shall submit an annual report to the government A Van Panchayat Forest Fund shall be created for every forest Panchayat and the income shall be deposited and utilized under the control of the government official. Proceedings of the meeting must be recorded and a copy forwarded to the deputy commissioner C. 11 12.N. 2. Four seats.

jobs in government. 5. 1250 336 70 Female 80%.5 hectare irrigated and 7. 9. 12. unirrigated ) Livestock population and change in last one decade : Goat. Anyar (Andromeda ovalifolia Rs. 380 Sheep and Goats 240 cows and buffalos. 10. 2. 3. District Year of formation Altitude Forest area (in hectare) Accessibility* Plant Species Chamoli 1948 1400 msl 761 hectare Near Town Oak. 8. Columbia University. 6. Saving in the Council’s fund Total Population Number of Families Literacy Sources of livelihoods Sources of cash income Families Below official Poverty Line Land details: total area under cultivation ( Irrigated .collected from by-laws of the forest councils. Rhododendron. 2. 4 pairs of Oxen 13. 16. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. SIPA . 165 Total 17 hectare unirrigated land 15.5 hectare Rudraprayag 1965 1500 msl 80 hectare Remote Oak. 40 cows and buffalos. 11. 450. Kafal (Myrica sapida).000 875 175 Female -72% Male – 87% Agriculture. buffalo. 8. Kafal (Myrica sapida). Female 92% Agriculture. Kafal (Myrica sapida).5 hectare. Irrigated 1.5 hectare uirrigated. Anyar (Andromeda ovalifolia Rs.loads of fodder per year 17.160 head.N. jobs in government micro-businesses Jobs and microbusinesses 46 Total 9 hectare. sale of forest produce (Lichen and Mosses) 120 Total 11 hectare unirrigated land Chamoli 1956 850 msl 120 hectare Near Town Pine and Oak species Rudraprayag 1963 1900 msl 650 hectare Remote Oak.000 724 131 Female-36%. 398 cows and Buffalos 70 pairs of Oxen. bullocks Rs. jobs in government Service and sale of milk 7. 47 pairs of Oxen 239 sheep and goats 438 Cows and buffaloes.1) Brief Profile of the Forest Councils S. Manoj Bhatt.3% Every month (regular ) Around 1080 head loads of wood fuel per year (calculation: 5 per family x 18 families x 12 months) Around 11000 head load of fodder per year 75% Every Quarter (not regular ) 9500 head loads (calculation: 33000 kg/ 35 = 9500) Around 32120 head load of fodder per year 7245 head loads of fuel wood (calculation: 5 per family x 105 families x 9 months + 8 per family for 105 x 3 months) Around 40800 head load of fodder per year 29% Every Quarter (not regular ) 40% Every Quarter (not regular Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . 2007 11 . 74 pairs oxen and 175 sheep and goats. 4. Subject Forest Council Malsi Forest Council Uttaraon Forest Council Usada Forest Council Rumsi 1. manual labor Service. male 45% Agriculture and Labor Labor. other written material available and material generated through participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) . Anyar (Andromeda ovalifolia) Rs. Rhododendron. Rhododendron. LPG connections Council Meetings 5.000 617 87 Female-70% Male -80% Agriculture. Cow.5 per family for 124 families x 9 months + 8 per family for 124 x 3 months ) Around 47. labor and sale of milk 72 Total 4. 18. 14. Collection of wood fuel and fodder (1 head load = 35 kg) Around 8500 head loads of wood fuel per year (calculation. 45. 1.

fuel. The milk animals are generally stall fed and hence besides green fodder collected from fields a Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand .19. Thereafter. Snow fall generally occurs on high ridges in almost every year in winters. minor forest produce and agriculture implements. female390) from 131 families. but it is a matter of connectivity with good road and highway.87 and female-89) people belong to Schedule caste.2. timber. People have strong socio-cultural relations with each other. The village is surrounded by dense forest followed by small terrace land holdings. The two South located compartments have relatively dense forest as compare to 3. rain fed and small land holdings which does not provide enough food for a year. Status of the council Yes Good No Bad Good Bad * We have taken Srinagar-Garhwal town as a central point for reference: Near town village is a village from where a common person can make a round-trip of Srinagar-Garhwal town by bus in a day. and Deer are common animals found in the Malsi Forest. There are 398 milk animals. wild Hen.1) Malsi Forest Council Malsi Village : The village is inhibited by 724 people (male-334. The compartment 5 will be open after five years for lopping while the grazing is allowed during this period. It is not a matter of distance. 4 and 5 compartments situated on North side of the village. Manoj Bhatt. rest are unable to use because of low paying capacity and unreliability of its supply. rearing of goats and running small road side tea shops. 2. Their forest is situated at an altitude of 1400-1900 msl. The main occupation is subsistent agriculture in scattered.2 ) Story of the Forest Councils 2. The village has electricity. the compartment 3 and 4 are opened for next six months. The Malsi Community Forest: Forest Council of Malsi village came into existence in 1948 and is the first and one of the largest in this locality. The council has 761 hectare dense deciduous forest divided by the Council into 5 compartments for management purposes. Remote area village is a village where a common person can not make a round trip of Srinagar-Garhwal town by bus in a day. Thus Malsi Forest Council has completed almost 69 years providing valuable support to the life of local people. 70 oxen and around 380 sheep and goats in the village. but only 20 families are using it. wild Boar. People are mostly dependent on the forests for fodder. To support the family income people are engaged in part time labor jobs in construction of new roads by the government. The forests are dominated by Oak followed by Rhododendron and associated plant verities. Out of which 176 (male. Columbia University. SIPA . animals and environment. The village is well connected by road. The level of literacy is relatively low (women 36 % and men 45 %). Compartment 1 and 2 are opened for fodder in October and closed in March. 2007 12 . EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. The area experiences cold climate in inters for almost 3 months from December to February. Leopard.

This has been a source of livelihood for some families which are now facing low demand of these implements due to availability of metal implements and containers for storage and other agriculture and household purposes. The villagers also collect some wild fruits and berries from the forest for their own use. The agenda Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . SIPA .green leaves are also collected by the families from forest every day. The present members of the committee areName Designation Name Designation Surendra Singh Negi Surpanch Ranjeet Singh Negi Member Pratap Singh Negi Member Dharma Devi Member (female) Gabbar Singh Negi Member Kali Devi (female) Member Bhagtwari Devi Member from Bali Devi (female ) Member from (female) Schedule Caste Schedule Caste One of the members Teli Ram –a member of SC community has expired recently. Columbia University. and when it gets mixed with animal’s urine and dung it is used as fertilizer in the fields. The present Sarpanch runs a small shop to supply general household goods and tailoring services. Beside the committee members. To prepare manure a family requires one or two back load of dry leaves per week. The dry leaves are available in plenty during winter season. people prefer cement and concrete.e. Normally a family requires 5 head load ( 1 head load is equal to 35 kg. The forest has been providing agricultural implements and containers made of wood and crafted by the local craftsmen. While in rainy days the leaves of bushes and other trees are taken to use for this purpose.000 Kilograms ) of the Liken and Mosses per year at the rate of Rs/. Timber for house construction is also collected. Fuel wood and timber are other requirements of villagers that are fulfilled from the council’s forest. In addition to the green fodder the women of the village also collect fallen and dry leaves in a big bamboo basket for composting.15-30 per KG (depending on the quality of the material). 2007 13 . EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. Collection of Liken and Moss verities which grow on the Oak trees in dense and moist forests is an important activity for alternate income generation. Management: Forest Council is constituted of 9 members committee including one head (Sarpanch) who is responsible for over all management.) of fuel wood per month. And in winters this figure may go to 7-8 head loads per month. however. These leaves are first used as This is first used as cow bed. Use of chemical fertilizer is not in practice. The last election was held in the year 2004. the practices of collecting timber has reduced due to change in preferences i. Manoj Bhatt. the villagers are also invited to attend the meeting in general and it is made compulsory for all to participate in case of major issue is to be discussed. The households collect total 47160 head load of leaf fodder per year using generally the Oak plants . The village sells around 30 trucks (one truck carrying approximately 36. There are only 7 families having LPG connections. The Forest Council meeting is held regularly on 1st or 15th of every month.

The main village is close to the national highway while with new settlements on both side of the road makes it a scattered village. service (army and teaching) and private jobs outside the region while the schedule caste people have traditional vocations like black smithy. The schedule caste families are either engaged in share cropping (Adhel) basis or work as agricultural labor and get paid in kind (grains). Under this program check dams were constructed and a forestation drive was undertaken. Most of the fertile land is on the river bank and the main village is owned by the upper caste people only. To pay in kind generally each family gives one patha ( 2 kg. 5000 only in its account. Manoj Bhatt. Forest Conflicts: The council often faces disputes and conflicts within and outside the village. No pending conflict has been recorded presently but the Sarpanch told that the villagers initially had spent Rs.of the meetings generally include discussion on performance of chowkidar. 50. and drum beating on marriage and religious ceremonies. More than 3 hundred thousand Rupees were given to villagers on 5 % interest for purchase of seeds which is yet to be recovered from people.000 on a court case for resolving the encroachment dispute with the adjoining village called Sarana. Female-175) people in the village. basket making. SIPA . illegal felling and cutting by villagers and outsiders as well. 2007 14 . EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. Being a small market and bus stop the floating population is around 100 per day. The payment to chowkidhar is made either in cash or kind or in both.2. opening and closing of the forest. The secondary occupation in upper caste include govt. Columbia University. Chowkidar (Care taker) is appointed to take care of the forest. fodder collection. The decisions are recorded in the proceeding register. Now as the fund of development programs have finished the Chowkidar is paid Rs/-700 from the village fund constituted by the Joint Forest Management Program. and details of income/ expenditure. Uttaraon Forest Council Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand .2) Forest Council Uttraon Uttaraon Village : There are 70 families with 336 (161. A permanent chowkidar was also appointed to look after and paid Rs/-1410 per month.Male. The Schedule Caste ( Harijan) population is 67 including 36 male and 31 female. People have relatively diversified occupations but agriculture still remains in practice. The money in Van Panchayat accounts mostly comes from development programs and fee on timber wood taken by villagers for house construction and the fine imposed on illegal felling. Now the Forest Council has Rs. a five year long Joint Forest Management program was initiated in the village in order to restore the forest health and wealth. The Alaknanda River makes southern boundary of the village. Again in 2005 the few more check dams were constructed by soil conservation department. In 1998. 2.) grain to Chowkidar on every harvest.

Manoj Bhatt. Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . The pine forest adjacent to the Council’s forest often causes forest fire during summer. According to the president of Van Panchayat (Sarpanch) the Van Panchayat Committee has only six membersName Basanti Devi Vimla Aswal Maheshwari Devi Designation Surpanch Member Member Name Kanti Devi Banumati Devi Chaita Devi Designation Member Member from Schedule Caste Member from Schedule Caste There is provision to held meetings of Van Panchayat after every three months but the proceeding register indicates that formal meetings are not held regularly. All villagers as volunteers go to protect the government managed as well as Council managed forests from forest fire. 100 for a tree when demanded by villagers for a marriage party. The other sources of Van Panchayat’s income include fine on illegal felling and fee charges for timber wood. During 1993-94 afforestation drive was undertaken in an area of 5 hectare of Community Forest. People do not have sheep and goats. 2007 15 . 10 buffaloes and 4 pairs of oxen in the village. They often try to collect fuel wood from the Council forest but it was not allowed by the Council which lead to some degree of intra-village conflicts. The forest is divided in 5 compartments dominated mainly by Oak species. the demand of fodder is maximum 11000 head load per annum. Winters are cold but snowfall is not observed for last several year. Columbia University. The climate is temperate. For last 26 years. The Council has been collecting royalty on sale of sand from river bank but now there is a dispute as the schedule caste people claim their rights on this royalty. Around 75% families (mostly from upper caste) have LPG connection so they are not much dependent on forests for wood fuel. The schedule caste families go to collect wood fuel mainly from protected forest. The forest is situated at an altitude of 850 mt. Hence. it is only last year and after a threat of bear they went to lop the Oak trees.The Uttraon Council was formed in 1956 with an area around 120 hectares. this is first all women Forest Council in Chamoli district. It was found that except dry leaves and fallen woods the people of Uttraon village do not collect fodder and fuel from their own Forest but go to collect them from government managed forests. Being well connected with national highway the village people found it easy to go out side for job and hence rearing of animals and practicing agriculture remained a job for relatively older generation. Management: The management is currently in the hands of women of upper castes who are formally organized into a Mahila Mangal Dal and decide the utilization of forest’s produce. SIPA . The Council charges Rs. The government managed protected forest of pine makes the western boundary. There are 30 cows including 4 of Jersey breed. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship.

Forest Conflicts The Council is facing a conflict situation with Schedule caste families who want to exercise rights over the forest. The political leader of the village is unhappy of this decision and has an opinion that the representatives in the Councils needs to be replaced. But. The people are primarily engaged in agriculture for their livelihood. 2.5 hectare is irrigated. A watershed management program has recently been initiated by the Watershed Management Directorate of Uttarakhand Government the village. 2007 16 . Further. Out of total 4.Chowkidar (care taker) is not been appointed permanently. around ¾ part of this council has been banned for community utilization by the state forest department. The level of literacy among women is 70 % and men 80 %. 20 per family per month. female-316). He is only appointed at the time of illegal felling and encroachments and is paid Rs. It is termed as illegal by the Sarpanch as the Council has decided for the whole village to not to use the Council’s forest.3) Forest Council Usada Usada Village: The village Usada is inhibited by 617 people from 88 families (Male-301. Women’s saving groups (Self Help Groups) and youth association (Yuvak Mangal Dal). The production of potato is good but due to lack of access to market it is not been undertaken at commercial level. Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . The area receives snowfall in winters.8 hectare.5 hectare land available for agriculture only 1. SIPA . people have been protesting for their legitimate rights over their forests. Manoj Bhatt. the wild animals often damage the crops. The Van Panchayat is situated at an altitude of 1900 msl. after the declaration of Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve in 1974 and later Kastura Mirg Vihar (Deer Sanctuary) in late 1990s. Till then. wheat and millets are grown. 38 males are currently working outside the village in government and private jobs.2. Generally paddy. The village has also a civil forest (owned by the revenue department of the state government ) in around an area of 75 hectare which is mainly used for fodder grasses and leaves from the bushes. Columbia University. The village has community organizations like women association ( Mahila Mangal Dal). EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. There are no Schedule caste families . Forest Council Usada: The Usada Van Panchayat was formed on 29 June 1963 with an area of 2504.

The forest also supplies wood for agriculture implements and wooden pots. now all these activities have been banned by the government but few people still move to the uplands (government owned forests). Wild Boar. But. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. The other items extracted by villagers from the forests include edible fruits. The present President was elected first in 1993 and then got reelected twice. Columbia University. In 2001 a massive forest fire had burned around 1000 plants. Manoj Bhatt. and species of Dear are main wild animals found in the forest. but lately it has become irregular. which for 6 month is being fulfilled from the community forest and rest 6 month from civil forest. the meeting is called whenever it found necessary. From 2001. Families in this village used to migrate with animals to their temporary shelters (Chhani) at uplands ( Kharks) for 6 months in the summer. 128 cows and 94 oxen). A forestation in the CF has been undertaken three times with the support of govt. It is because of this forest wealth the area has been declared as biosphere reserve. People go to collect ringal (Himalayan Bamboo) for making different types of baskets for agricultural purpose. herbs and shrubs. The Council is as following: Name Vikram Singh Bajwal Kushal Singh Sushila Devi Avtar Singh Designation President Member Member Member Name Uma Devi Narrotam Singh Darbaan Singh Jeet Pal Singh Designation Member Member Member Member Though it was decided to have meeting every third month. a demand of minimum 33 tons of wood per year remains there which has been catered by the community forest. who have been trying to cultivate some medicinal herbs in the village to create a demonstration claims that thousand of important herbs naturally grow in the forest but local people do not have much knowledge of these herbs and do not extract them. All members of the village community voluntarily protected the forest from this fire. This village committee came into existence to claim back their forest from Sanctuary.Usada community forest is characterized by dense Oak dominated moist forest and a house of many species of plants. 2007 17 . sponsored Joint Forest Management Program and also with villager’s contribution. During this migration people lop Oak trees around the temporary shelter and send their animals to green pastures. the fodder requirement of the village is around 32120 head load per annum. SIPA . With 334 large animals (112 buffaloes. animals. However. The villager have formed a village committee which take decision on all issues related village forest and other issues. Management The Van panchayat (forest Council) is constituted by 9 members. Being cold climatic region the fuel wood is required all over the year for cooking and heating purposes. timber was taken for house construction but now it has stopped due to restrictions by the government. The demand of fodder and fuel wood is largely caterd by the community forests. nuts and honey. Leopard. Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . The 25 families who have LPG connection do not go to collect fuel wood during summer. Earlier. According to scientists of a research center ( High Altitude Plant Physiology Centre).

Now. Manoj Bhatt. 15 per family per month is appointed to check illegal felling inside the forest. leaf and grasses. When forests are open for fodder collection one member of each family is permitted to go and collect one head load of fodder i. Forest Council Rumshi At an altitude of 1500 msl.e. 2. At the time of closing civil forest a caretaker is appointed to control illegal entries. often villagers have some conflicts over use of resources near the boundary.4) Forest Council Rumshi Village Rumshi There are 175 families with a total population of 875 people. The schedule castes have 32 families. Potato could be a good cash crop but it does not produce much due to small land holdings. Columbia University. with the construction of road people tend to migrate nearby towns for educating their children. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship.2. The villagers are formally organized in women’s savings groups ( Self Help Groups). Forest Conflicts Usada share common boundary of Van Panchayats forest with Makku village. But no major boundary dispute has been recorded so far. An area of 80 Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . The Van Panchayat has provision of charging fine on illegal felling which is decided mutually in the committee meeting. hence. However. Around 2 families migrate per year from the village. It has been observed that the villagers interest in forest management has been eroded have since they lost control over a large area of the forest. whatever they have is sufficient to cater their current demand and they are managing it whole heartily It seems they have been learning to cater their needs from a relatively small area and they have given more attention to the management of the civil forest since their forest area was reduced. A full time guard of forest department is sitting over there in the village watching the activities of villagers. A Chowkidar (care taker) who is paid Rs. The committee also takes fine (Rs. 50 per animal) on grazing of animals by an outsider. generally one compartment of theVan Panchayat is opened for 6 months during winter. The villagers are primarily engaged in agriculture and produce mainly wheat and millets.To manage the fodder need of the village. the Rumshi Community Forest was not a formal Van Panchayat but the villagers were managing a civil forest of 450 hectare since 1965. Some time duties on routine basis are assigned to each family of the village to take care of the forests. women association (Mahila Mangal Dal) and youth association ( Yuvak Mangal Dal). 2007 18 . 87% of male and 72 % of female are literate. SIPA .

and people should return the encroached land to Van Panchayat by 31. A Chowkidar (watch man) has been appointed by the Van Panchayat. But it seems people have no clear information about the government watershed program and people have mistrust in the action of the village council’s (an elected village governing body. There is no restriction on collecting grass and fodder from the forest. Other families in the village are also trying to procure LPG connections. but only dry and fallen wood is permissible to be taken away.hectare. It was decided by the new Van Panchayat that action will be taken on those people who indulge in illegal cutting and encroachment. The Rumsi Van Panchayat is newly formed and it seems that the linkages among community institution in the village are not strong. Management The Van panchayat (Forest Council) is constituted by 9 members committee including a President (Sarpanch) responsible for over all management.to pay to the watchmen. A government funded watershed management program was initiated in the village recently and under it the villagers are planning to plant trees and construct check dam to protect soil erosion. Columbia University. SIPA .08. it can be called anytime. but if found necessary. He is also handing over the Van Panchayat forest to the forest department for extraction of resin and hence would get some royalty as income for the Van Panchayat. In one of such meetings it was decided that each family will deposit 10 Rs/. which is different from the Van Panchayats ) leader. but the decision is under consideration. The President Mr. The families who are still depend on forest for fuel collect it from civil forest. The Rumshi Van Panchayat Forest is a mix forest having species like Pine. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. Meetings are not held and there are personal conflict Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . they are still interested in managing it. Oak. The members of the committee are as given in the following tableName Himmat Singh Jetar Singh Surender Singh Shishupal Singh Purwa Devi Designation Surpanch/ President Member Member Member Member SC Name Dyalu lal Indra Devi Bashkhi Devi Rameshwari Devi Designation Member SC Member Member Member Van Panchayat meetings are held every third month. however. Manoj Bhatt. and Rhododendron.04. 2007 19 . However. the Van Panchayat is constituted to manage only 80 hectare land but because people were already managing the area of 450 hectare. was constituted as Van Panchayat in 2003 under the new Van Panchayat Rules of 2001. Himmat Singh is now planning to plant Jatropha (an oil ( biodiesel) bearing nut plant) in 5 hectare of Van Panchayat forest. Around 70 families have LPG connection and after road construction there is no problem to get cooking gas cylinders and hence they are not dependent on forest for wood fuel.

Hence. the Youth Association (Yuvak Mangal Dal) seems more active then other village institutions. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. timber for house construction and leaf for composting Protection from felling of green trees and any unauthorized or commercial use by any individual Protecting from over grazing Protection of forests from forest fire and any unsustainable practices like mining Developing nurseries. Non Timber Forest Products (NTFP). the ownership of a forest gives them communal strength and alternate income sources e. fodder for animal.3. The rural community in Uttarakhand is mainly dependent on agriculture and there are no other substitute for fuel and fodder or they can not afford them.g.2 above ): 2. 2. a village can form a Forest Council with all women members but all men councils are not Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . 2. planting new trees and protecting grass plots Ensuring sale of Non Timber Forest Products (NTFP) without damaging the forests.3) General Findings: Based on the study of these four councils we can say the following (for discussion on individual councils see section 2.3. Here. Columbia University. In addition. Forest Conflict: Not many disputes are registered as far as encroachment is concerned. composting.3) Governance Structure and Policy: A Forest Council is formed by 9 elected members including a head called Sarpanch. Manoj Bhatt.2) Purpose of Conservation: The purpose of the Forest Councils is to fulfill the subsistence needs of their members related to wood fuel. The regulatory rules stipulated in their mandate comprises mainly the following goals : Prohibition of encroachment of the forest land Sustainable extraction of wood for fuel. to continue their agriculture and animal husbandry as a main source of livelihood. Further.related to development programs that are being undertaken under watershed management program of the government. SIPA . they require a continue supply of fuel and fodder which is mainly fulfilled from forest managed by forest councils. 2007 20 .1) Goals : The goal of the democratically elected Forest Councils has been to manage the forests land under their jurisdiction to utilize the forest resources in a just and sustainable manner through collective decision making process.3. 2. animal fodder. and agricultural implements through a collective decision making process.

The distribution of forest produce or fine collected may produce some funds which are generally spent on paying the wages for the appointed person(s) for patrolling the forest (chowkidar) to protect the forest from illicit felling or exploitation. fine is being charged according to the damage and in case of contempt the case is put forth in the courts of Sub Divisional Magistrate of the area. Occasional meetings regarding the fodder collection and opening and closing of the parts of the forests are held time to time. illegal felling and cutting by villagers as well as outsiders. Manoj Bhatt.e. each family of the village gives some fixed quantity of grain to Chowkidar once in 6 months or on every harvest. All the people of the village (age more than 18 yrs. Members of the Van Panchayats and people from all families of the village came to participate in the meetings. The funds may be used for afforestation. To sustainably utilize the forests generally some parts are closed for 4 to5 years to allow regeneration of vegetation where only dry grasses may be allowed to collect on season. Besides. Normally. The payment to chowkidhar is made either in cash (Fanta ) or kind (Dadwar) – i. Each Forest Council has their own rules and regulations for management and protection of forests. 2007 21 . the committee has the right to punish the culprit. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. beside the general government rules. In case of illegal felling and encroachment. At the time of election. opening and closing of the forest. people are invited to participate in the village meeting in the presence of a district forest official or his/her representative. The agenda of the meetings generally include discussion on performance of chowkidar. Later. resolving inter-village conflicts and on other village development work. The proposed names are called and consensus is build. and details of income/ expenditure. It has to ensure equal sharing of benefits and plan for livelihood security of the village. His/her duties are generally to control felling and cutting in the restricted forest. All the members of the Forest Councils are supposed to pay their services voluntarily. The decisions are recorded in the proceeding register in most of the cases. The election of Forest Councils are held once in a five year. he/she also takes care of the near by reserve forest . At the same time some parts of the forest are open for collecting green fodder and wood fuel.permitted by state rules.) have right to cast their vote. Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . The members of the Forest Councils are supposed to conduct regular meetings in the village and take decisions on forest utilization and management. The council can use their discretion if the new unexpected situation arises. Chowkidar (Care taker) is being appointed to take care of forests. the committee is registered in the official records and documents related to the Forest Council are handed over to new Sarpanch. SIPA . The meeting of the Forest Councils are organized monthly or quarterly on a pre-decided date. fodder collection. there should be representation of women ( 40 % ) and scheduled caste people. Columbia University.

If people are procuring fuel. In theory.The Forest Councils have their account (Kosh) either in post office or bank. There is no document maintained at the Forest Councils to evaluate monitor the health of the forests except a proceeding register to record the meeting minutes and resolutions passed. As stated above a forest council has limited finances in the shape of fine and fee from illegal activities and distribution of forest products. This money is generally spent on hiring a care taker. If it is found that certain factor is influencing the health of forest or it is promoting other people to indulge in forest degradation then a resolution is passed to eradicate or reduce such factor with mutual consent.3. fodder and timber as per their need under the designed management system then it is the success of Forest Council or if there are cases of disputes. encroachments and breaking of rules and regulation then it is termed as failure of Forest Council.3. watershed development or soil conservation departments and provides opportunity to the Forest Councils to manage those activities this money goes to the account of Forest Councils for conducting the activities. If the dispute is not resolved at community level then it is sent to the court of the Sub Divisional Magistrate for legal action.5) Implementation/enforcement : The rules and regulation are formulated at Forest Council level as per the size and geography of the Forests and also as per the demand of fuel. 2. Manoj Bhatt. If a person in the village does not follow these rules termed culprit and the fine whatever decided by the Forest Council will be imposed on that person. 2. Some times the state government launches plantation and watershed management programs through forest. A person residing in the village must have to follow these rules and regulation if he/she has to get equal benefit out of the community forests. 2. Columbia University. SIPA . 2.3. The Council members discuss the right level of cash (Fanta) or labor (Shramdan) Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . the forest council appeal to the village people to render their service voluntarily for conservation and management.3.6) Measurement of success: People generally discuss the issues of forest management in monthly meetings of Forest Council.4) Resources: In order to manage a community forest. fodder and NTFPs.7) Future Plans: The village level meetings are utilized to discuss the current as well as future programs or problems. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. The money mostly comes from fee on timber wood taken by villagers for house building and fine imposed on insiders and in some cases outsiders for illegal felling. 2007 22 . Forest Council have technical expertise available through the forest department if they require their services but this provision generally does not work .

Generally. However. Forest Councils are located at a significant distance from town or urban areas in terms of access to the larger town. they are involved in business and have no time. It is also seen that Forest Department officials have not been oriented at all about the additional role entrusted to them regarding Forest Councils.9) The situation of corruption by government officials and its impacts: Not many incidences of corruption have been recorded . 2. Manoj Bhatt. We are not sure about the impacts of the factors like proximity to the urban areas but the road passing near the village and approaching a town or urban centre even at 50 km. SIPA . then the Council approaches the forest. or families not having dependence on forests for wood fuel have gradually lost interest in conservation and utilization practices of Community Forests.8) Size.3. may matter in terms of influencing the behavior of the community and forest conservation and utilization practices in the following way: People find it easier to work in sectors other than agriculture and migrate to get better facilities. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. 3) Relevant Best Practices : Historical role of the Van Panchayats has been to support villagers to ensure household food security.contribution if it is required to execute the activity . and Forest Councils. The inspection records and meeting records do not reflect visit from forest department.3. 2007 23 . forest path and small water bodies (khals) for livestock. Families not having domestic animals dependent on fodder from forests because they have lack of manpower due to migration. Exposure of urban culture may motivate people to get maximum benefits from the Forest Council’s forests in a short period of time which may lead to intra village conflicts. Most of the Councils have plans to plant more trees in their forest land and also to construct check dams. Majority of women are still engaged in agriculture because they do not get appropriate opportunity to get involved in urban economic activities due to social norms and their current skills levels so they are still interested in managing forests to support their agriculture and for ecosystem services like drinking water. If huge finances are required. vegetation and accessibility: The Councils with large size of native forest seems to do better than the Council having small size forests. the fund are not provided in most of the cases. Columbia University. they have cash income from other than agriculture. soil or watershed development department of the state government to get funds. 2. It is observed that there is lack of a working relationship between forest dept. a role which has largely gone unrecognized in the existing government plans and Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand .

2007 24 .1000 . 3. Discipline and punishments range from fines to social boycott.5 to 50. 19 – 20 ) for watcher. People generally follow the social norms and if any person is caught violating the rules her/his implements used for cutting of grass and wood are seized or she/he is charged minimum fine which varies from Rs. Manoj Bhatt.3) Benefit Sharing Benefits are shared by opening of the protected forest for three month period i. Lopping of green twigs is kept banned for specified period in specified parts of the forest. and only for a limited period of time. three and four compartments and used in rotation. People pay for Chowkidar (watchman ) who takes round to the forest area to protect it .4) Finances and Manpower Villagers invest Rs. The basis for membership is payment of grains or cash (Rs.2000 per month on Chowkidari ( watcher) of the forest. Even a very poor family contributes for this purpose which shows the commitment of the people for forest management. grasses which can be taken from the forests.2) Protection System Forest divided into two. In most of the villages Chowkidari is paid in kinds but it the cash payment is also used to pay the watcher a good incentive.programs. leaves and grasses are shared at an equal share per family. All the caste/ sub-groups are involved in the protection effort as well as benefit sharing in most of the cases except one village. including for entering the forest only during winter season (January to March ).e. 3. In some cases Forest Councils have accumulated a good amount of deposits in their fund. Benefits i.1) Forest Management Rules Villagers have framed rules for access. All the villagers keep a watch on the forest but a special petrol is also appointed to guard the forest everyday and report Sarpanch or panch in the evening. limits on amounts of leaf fodder. SIPA . 4) Measurement Issues Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . One member from each family is allowed one head load. Sarpanch manages the finances and share it with members in monthly meetings.e. Columbia University. January to March. Manpower investment in the protection is also in the form of voluntary labor (shramdan ) by villagers. Wherever required stone wall is erected to stop offenders from nearby villages. The following strengths are the best practices that can be replicated and transferred to next the generation3. 3. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship.

Hence the nature of degradation does not involve a substantial reduction in forest biomass. the interactions between these components. and more generally in its functioning14. Columbia University. The mean percent of trees severely lopped was exactly at the threshold of 50%. The early phase of unlimited fascination with satellite and radar remote sensing in the 1970s and 1980s has fortunately given way to a more lucid awareness of the limitations of these tools. namely. Once planted. Manoj Bhatt. but rather decrease in the quality e. 2007 25 . and forest fire created by its needles also supports its domination. up to total neglect. Tree stock density in comparison appeared quite healthy: only 15% of forest patches fell below the sustainability threshold of 35 square meters per hectare. this exotic plant16 Chir Pine naturally invaded the Oak forests even in the high altitude areas traditionally dominated by Oak. Whereas the different forms of remote sensing are very useful tools for estimating deforestation. in the acquisition of "groundtruth" data and in field inventories17. In other words. rather than deforestation. they are far less so for assessing degradation which most often calls for observations on the ground18.e. The degradation estimates of wooded lands are only accurate as a general rule at the local level on limited areas. canopy cover.The Van Panchayats are generally successful in controlling “deforestation” i. the plantation in Uttarakhand replaced a bulk of evergreen native Oak forests (Quercus Species) having good canopy cover and density of vegetation in to mono-culture of Chir pine having a less thick canopy cover. The major management issue for “Van Panchayats” is to control “degradation” which does not involve a reduction of the forest area.g. This is around 7. Continual progress has been made during the past fifty years with regard to identifying deforestation and estimating the amount of deforested areas. This difference between tree stock density and canopy cover may be due to the following reasons: The data of 10 years (from 1994-95 to 2003-04) says that the forest department planted 14. A study suggests that 40% of all forest patches fell below sustainability threshold for canopy cover. in the adoption of classifications and results that proved to be unusable by managers (and could not be applied to adjacent areas) and the reduction. Estimating Deforestation and Degradation In Uttarakhand ‘the chief problem appears to lie in the degraded quality of forests. and would not be picked up by aerial satellite images15.27 percent of the total 3. This plantation was done mainly in areas where natural Oak forests had depleted due to overuse. vegetation layer. fauna or soil.465 million hectare forest land of Uttarakhand. thanks in particular to progress in remote sensing technology. decrease in the forest covered land. when they exist. The reasons could be that Chir Pine bear seeds at a very early stage.252 million hectare land. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. flora. At higher levels such estimates. it creates nitrogen shortage in the soil. Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . although considerable damage had already been done during the intervening period.57 million plants in 0. are most imprecise. SIPA . The main plant that has been planted in bulk was Chir Pine (Pinus roxburghii ).

This is very impressive keeping in mind the resource scarcity in the mountains. Two issues (no. and availability of other forest nearby that serves as an alternative.e.line and Matrix Scoring 6 ) A Discussion to Conclude This is important to remember here that the conclusions regarding what factor work better for conservation by the Forest Councils are indications of possibilities that needs to be explored. 2007 26 .5) Tools used in studying the Forest Councils The following Participatory Rural Appraisal tools19 were used in the field study to interview villagers and collect information from them: a) Interviews b) Focus Group Discussions c) Resource Mapping d) Transact Walk e) Time. 1 and 2) mentioned below are unique characteristics of Uttarakhand which seems favorable for “enduring community-government partnership for forest management” i. Columbia University. Higher security in terms of possession. 2. We got some indications (from the 4 Van Panchayats we Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . Lower inequality and lower caste heterogeneity21: Studies have suggested that the inequality in land holding in Uttarakhand is lower than the rest of India which is also evident from the fact that there are very few landless households in the state. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. the following variables seem important for the success/failure of the Van Panchayats : Size of the Forests. Van Panchayats. This less heterogeneity works to support collective action. The Council managed forests are in far better condition than those managed by the revenue department and over all the experiment of decentralized forest management seems to have been a significant success in Uttarakhand 20. The status of council managed forests is healthy and can be weighed favorably against the best reserved forests in the state managed by the Forest Department. In addition to these two over-arching common factors. SIPA . Similarly caste heterogeneity is also lower than in the rest of India. The most important aspect of management of these forests is investment of time and money by the villagers in monitoring and protection. and management freedom22: The villages in Uttarakhand enjoy relatively better security in terms of their ownership over the forest to make decisions. Manoj Bhatt. plans and invest for a long term return. 1. The collective actions can be measured in many ways such as hiring of watchman and frequency of the Van Panchayat meetings. distance from town. animal fodder and non timber forest products). size of the resource user. quality of the forests ( in terms of ecosystem services as well as wood fuel.

g Oak forest which is evergreen and provides better ecosystem services like water. Malsi is connected with road and is easily accessible but it still has good management system and intact health of the forest. A healthy ratio of forest per hectare agriculture land can be a measure in this regard. per person forest is less than 0 .18. we can not say anything. Although we do not know what size is good for the success. animal fodder. Size of the Forests Matters : It seems that the size of the Van Panchayat forest is very important factor in deciding whether the villagers will invest energy and resources in its management of not. Both the successful Van Panchayats in our study was managing natural Oak forests. Native forests with useful vegetation (for the villagers e.studied ) on impacts of size and quality of the forests. Mountain agriculture is dependent on forests for its sustenance.33. Native forests with good canopy cover are considered “good forests” by the communities.70 respectively. fodder.e. Manoj Bhatt. population density in terms of per capita forest land available and distance from town. But. 13. active management in terms of councils’ meetings and good enforcement of social norms and Councils’ rules. Rumsi is a remote Van Panchayat but is not successful.35 hectare. 4.44 and 4. 2007 27 .05 hectare forest per person. Both the successful Van Panchayats have better ration of forest per hectare of agriculture land : Malsi. Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . In both the good/successful forest councils there was 1. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship. Distance from Town does not Matter: We were expecting a negative impact of urbanization on the management and quality of Van Panchayats. This whole mechanism might keep the Council relevant and active. In both the bad Councils. we were able to see the positive cycle in the good Councils but we are not very sure whether the cycle was working in opposite direction in bad councils studied by us. and Rumsi have 69. The Rumsi forest was managed relatively well when its size was around 450 hectare but once the government decided to take away its forest from the management of the village and the villagers left only with 80 hectare. However. participation of the villagers in forest management) i. Malsi (761 hectare)and Usada (650 hectare) are relatively large in size. 3. SIPA . Usada. on the other hand. non timer forest products. 144. And this process might work in opposite direction in the forests where the vegetation is less valuable for communities in term of their ecosystem value and use in subsistence agriculture. Columbia University. Uttaraon. In our field study both good Van Panchayats (characteristics of good Van Panchayat determined by health of forests. And both of the bad Van Panchayats were managing a forest which was mixed and under the invasion of Chir Pine forest. based on the 4 Councils we studied. wood fuel and wood for agriculture implements ) may need more vigilance and hence more meetings and discussions by the Forest Council and more investment on monitoring and protection. Quality of the Forests Matters: The collective action by villagers is more evident when people get good ecosystem services as well as direct benefits like wood fuel. 5. about the impact of urbanization on these Councils. It seems that the ratio of forest land and village population is important. manure. currently there are more conflicts and problems in the management of the forest.

“Managing the Environmental consequences of growth : Forest Degradation in Indian mid Himalayas”. Jean Marie Baland. 29. Ruth DeFries. Ibid Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand . Van Panchayats in Uttaranchal. Available on : http://www. Reserve Bank of India. p3 3. FSI (Forest Survey of India) 2003. Manoj Bhatt. Ministry of Environment and Forests. New Delhi. “Reducing Green House Gas Emissions from Deforestation in Developing countries: Consecration for Monitoring and Measuring”. Parnab Bardhan and others. Government of India. 16.in/unnew/iawg/Decntz/researchppr/Van%20Panchayat%20Mishra.ua. Arun Agrawal and Elinor Ostrom. Mumbai. Frédéric Achard.htm. The revised version presented at the India policy forum 2006. Forest Resources in Uttaranchal: Issues and Concerns. The revised version presented at the India policy forum 2006. October 15. Deforestation. 2007 4. Safia Aggarwal. Report of the working group on improvement of banking services in Uttaranchal. Managing the Environmental consequences of growth : Forest Degradation in Indian mid Himalayas.Vi. EPIC Luce Research Assistantship.nic.org. 2006. 315511 Va.org/DOCREP/ARTICLE/WFC/XII/MS12A-E. Arun Agrawal. The Uttaranchal Panchayati Forest Rules. SIPA . New Delhi. Ibid 19. quoted by Mishra.in/uaglance/12. Daniel Murdiyarso. Duke University Press Durham and London. 2001 13. Report of the working group on improvement of banking services in Uttaranchal. Carlos de Souza Jr.ilearn. The Energy and Resource Center.Gra.htm accessed on March 30. http://gov.co. “Introduction of the European Pine in the Himalayas : A Brief Note”. No. Somanathan et..uk/Focus/GetFile. Columbia University.in/~som/#WP 11. Jean Marie Baland. www. 2005. Indonesia. http://gov. Mumbai.nic. Martin Herold. Politics and Society. accessed on April 19. October 15. Property Rights. National Institute of Science Technology and Development Studies. August 2006. 2006 12. State of Forest Report 2001.in/uaglance/3. accessed on March 30. at NCAER. the article can be accessed form author’s home page http://www. Property Rights and Incentives in Central Himalayas. 2007 28 . Parnab Bardhan and others. Vol. Sandra Brown. Global Observation of Forest and Land cover Dynamics.doc . CSIR. http://www. Bhaskar Sinha. p3 6. Bernhard Schlamadinger. 8. 2006. Reserve Bank of India. 2001. E.fao.ua. 2007 14.isid.htm 20. “Community Forestry in Transition: Sixty Years of Experience in the Indian Central Himalayas” IASCP Conference Bali. Census of India. 1991. 4. August 2006 18. 2007 10.aspx?id=9616 9. “Environmentality –Technologies of Government and the Making of Subjects”. Forest Department. 5. Based on Arun Agrawal.worldbank. 2001 2. http://www. “Environmentality –Technologies of Government and the Making of Subjects”. at NCAER. Collective Action.References : 1. and Decentralization in Resource Use in India and Nepal. Duke University Press Durham and London. “ Collective Action for Forest Conservation: Does Heterogeneity Matter?. Economic and Political Weekly.org/wbi/sourcebook/sba104. Forest Survey of India. and E. 2005 7./2001-8(15)/2001 Dehradun : Date 3 July. Somanathan.un.HTM 15. December 2001 21. Nainital.ac. May 2002 22. GOVERNMENT OF UTTRANCHAL Forest & Environment Section No. August 2006. India 17. June 19-23. New Delhi-110012. Uttaranchal State Forest Statistics (2000). 26. al. January.

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