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Consumerism Versus Conservationism and Its Reflection on Human-Wildlife Relations: A Case of Gir Protected Area

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Gupta, Ashok Kuma
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Globalisation, the Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Conf. Date: June 17-21, 2002
Date: 2002
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/928
Sector: Wildlife
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
forest management
forest policy
forest law
protected areas
Abstract: "Most forest land in India is under government ownership and the Forest Department is mandated to manage it in the 'National Interest'. The forest policy, 1988 and Govt. of India's circular enabling Joint Forest Management, 1990 forged a new path as it assured benefits to community and their involvement in management of the forests. So far 0.116 million area is covered in JFM out of 3.2 million total forest area of India. The management of protected area is governed by the Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972 which provides exclusive rights of management and protection to the FD. The 546 protected areas covers around 0.65 million hectare in India. The Act categorised protected areas into National Parks, Sanctuaries, and reserve forests. According to the law communities living inside the national parks have to be evicted and utilisation of forest resource is prohibited. In case of sanctuaries some customary rights were recognised by the government. However, people residing in and around PAs were using forest traditionally. Now by declaring forests as PAs the human needs and desires often compete with the conservation objective. "The Gir Protected Area of Gujarat state is last remaining habitat of Asiatic Lion. The lion population (177 in1968 to 305 in 2001) and its prey population (5600 in 1968 to 52800 in 2001) increased substantially. There is significant achievement in terms of Gir ecosystem conservation but the way it was achieved is debatable. From early seventies to till now 592 Maldhari families (Pastoralists residing inside Gir) out of 845 families were resettled. The exercise of resettlement has not resulted in desired success. Around 45% of the resettled families have left the sites here they were resettled. Each of the family were provided 3.2 ha. of land for agriculture but now it is proven that it was not easy for the community which was practicing animal husbandry for generations. (Chaudhry, K. 2000) "The rural economy around Gir area is pre dominantly based on commercial agriculture. The groundnut and mango are major cash crops of the area. The commercial agriculture is paying them Rs.17000/- per ha. Of 1 crop of groundnut to Rs.0.1 million per hectare from mango orchards (1 ha = 2.74 acres). This resulted in high private land values and exploitation of natural common pool resources. The common lands (grazing lands) were encroached and privatized by the political leaders while excessive use of ground water depleted the water table to dark zone. This situation subsequently put more pressure on Gir forest for supply of fuelwood, fodder, and NTFP collections to 0.13 million people, 0.10 million livestock, from 97 villages around Gir. "In the above difficult and conflicting scenario, AKRSP(I) is suggesting future strategy. There is a need for striking balance between the development needs and conservation priorities in Gir PA by involving local community. AKRSP(I) has evolved this strategy by series of discussions with most of the primary stakeholders namely poorest, Maldharis, women, and farmers: *Involvement of Maldharis in co-management of the Gir P (major policy decision to be taken). *Development of alternative income generation opportunities to the poorest namely Siddhis (an African origin tribe engaged in fuelwood trade). *Networkings with the primary stakeholder for inter institutional relationships. *Developed capacity of people who have resettled. *Effective community mobilization over conservation of Gir PA."

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