Park: People Relationship and its Implications for Protected Area Management in Satpura Conservation Area, India

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"I studied park- people relationships in Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR, Maharashtra) and Bori Wildlife Sanctuary (BWLS, MP) located in Satpura Conservation Area, having considerable tribal and non-tribal population dependent on forest resources of both protected areas (PAs). Socio-economic data were collected through household interviews in villages located within the PAs using open and closed-ended questionnaires. A total of 318 households (>20%) were sampled. While >50% were tribal households, >70% households were landless, marginal or small landholders. >80% families owned livestock. While >60% tribal households identified lack of employment opportunities within the PA and crop damage by wild herbivores as major problems; >50% households considered livestock predation a major conflict. More than 90% agro-pastoralist households in MTR were resentful of restrictions on livestock grazing. Alternative agricultural land was a major requirement for >50% families in BWLS as quite a few families were deprived of their landholdings due to submergence under the backwaters of Tawa reservoir which was built on the western side of the sanctuary. The creation of these two PAs in early 1970s has brought about significant changes in the dimension and equations of dependence. For local communities it translated in loss of economic opportunities and benefits which they traditionally derived. This has resulted in negative attitudes towards the forest department due to increased human-wildlife conflict bringing considerable strain on park-people relationships. Major management issues that need to be addressed are- dependence of local communities resulting in conflicts with the objectives of conservation and negative attitudes of the people towards forest department; inadequate coordination between forest department and district administration and other institutions/agencies working in the area; and lack of sensitization of forest staff in people related issues."
conservation, protected areas, community, parks, human-environment interaction, conflict, resource management