|Number of households||43|
|Number of people||182|
Sisaguda is a small tribal hamlet coming under the Pukali Revenue Village under Pukali GP of Pottangi Block in Koraput district. From Pottangi, the village is about 18 km and from the Pukali chowk on NH 43, the distance of the village would be around 15 km. The GP headquarters is only 2 km away from Sisaguda. There are hills and forests on all sides of the village. On the eastern side there is the Gangajhola Dangar, also called Bada jungle (big forest). On the west is Maliguda hill. The Ranganiguda is situated to the south. The Kotana Doraguda hill is situated in the north. Long ago all the hills were covered with lush forests. Over a period of time the forest cover dwindled under biotic pressure and also due to exploitations by outside vested interests. The area is part of the larger Deomali valleys. The Savari river which was later named as the Kolab river originated from the landscape. The vegetation there is mixed evergreen with some deciduous tree species.
The village is a tribal village wherein two tribal communities namely, Gadaba and Paraja live together. In all, there are 43 households out of which 33 are Paraja households and the remaining 10 belong to Gadaba Community. The average family size comes to around 5 members.
|Origin||New initiative by community|
|Year of Formation||-|
|Motivations||Livelihood, Religious/cultural sentiments|
People of Sisaguda village along with 5 other hamlets in its neighbourhood namely: Supadiguda, Rangadiguda, Rayaguda, Gurudiguda and Phandai Sisaguda were eking out their livelihood by doing shifting cultivation on Gangajhola Dangar (hill slope) also called ‘Bada Jungle’. With the continuation of the shifting cultivation cycle, fertility and the productivity of the soil declined and as a result, the production of the staple millets also declined. As the forest area shrunk because of clearing of forests for slope agriculture, people faced shortage of minor forest produce, firewood, materials for house construction and agriculture. Both men and women had to go to distant places such as Sunki forest to collect forest produce to meet their domestic and livelihood requirements. They had to walk all the way to Sunki, collect the forest produce, stay there overnight and return back on the following day. As stated earlier, the villagers were visiting distant forests to collect materials for their domestic requirements. Meeting their regular requirements from a distant forest required investing reasonable time and energy. Drudgery of women was increasing day by day. This made the elderly people of Sisaguda think over to find a solution to the problem. They called all the villagers and held a detailed deliberation as to how they can source their required forest products from nearby areas. One way was to cut down on the area of shifting cultivation and allow the forest to grow. It was decided that the families that did not have cultivable land on the plains and thus had no option but to resort to shifting cultivation on the hill slopes, would be allowed to encroach and cultivate government land lying unused. The entire village community accepted this decision in the meeting. It was also decided that a portion of the Gangajhola Dongar would be made free from any kind of exploitations for some years so that the forests can regenerate. They continued discussing the matter by organizing village meetings and discussing with the neighbourhood. Thus, forest protection was initiated, about 30 years ago. After putting in some efforts to protect the forest, the people of Sisaguda realised that it would not be possible for them as one village unit to protect the large Gangajhola Dangar. There were 5 other habitations around the hill. Therefore, the leaders of Sisaguda village decided to persuade the people of the five villages in their neighbourhood to join them in their effort to protect the forests on the hill slopes. A large meeting of representatives from all the six villages was held and it was decided to stop shifting cultivation on the dangar land and allow the natural forest to grow with the forest protection responsibility shared among all the villagers. Over the years of protection, a good well stocked secondary forest has come up. The people of the village also get some livelihood support from the forest produce. Status, situation and availability of non-timber forest produce as a livelihood supplement has undergone change over time. About three decades ago, the people were able to gather a good amount of forest produce for both domestic consumption and market. The supply of NTFPs from the local forests reduced dramatically due to massive exploitation and indiscriminate felling by the local communities. However, over the last one decade the forest growth is becoming better. However, according to the community members, the forest has always provided them with a food source of biodiversity that includes tubers, mushrooms, leafy vegetables, fruits, berries, etc. The tubers in particular are still available in plenty which are harvested by the very poor Gadaba and Paraja families. Adding to that, the scrubby forest also provides many seasonal leafy vegetables, bamboo shoots, buds, flowers, berries and fruits. According to the village communities, years ago, when they thought at village level to protect the forest for future, the women had emphasised upon restricting collection of tubers from the forest. It is said that for about two years nobody collected tubers from the forest protected by them and as a result the tuber multiplication in the forest became adequate.
1) Village is about 150 years old with the Paraja community being the earliest settlers.
2) Forest protection initiated about 30 years ago
As forest dwellers, the villagers met a lot of their requirements from the nearby forests. Apart from clearing forest patches for slope agriculture, they too depended on wild edibles, fire wood, construction materials and other daily requirements from the forest. Although agriculture is the mainstay of their living, yet forests contributed to their livelihoods significantly. Many regular and occasional festivals and rituals are also directly and indirectly associated with the forest. While Push Parab (winter festival) is the main festival of the village, there are other festivals like Ashadha Yatra (Rain festival), Chaitra Parba (Spring festival), Nishani Parba, Podamara and Bhima Puja. Gadabas observe a gotr ceremony which is specific to their community. Most of the festivals are associated with specific seasons of the year and are mainly related to agricultural operations and forests. For example, Bhima Puja is performed when there is no rain or excess rain. From the way the religious ceremonies are organized, it appears that much of their significance would be lost if there would be no forests. There is considerable bonhomie among the members of the village community during the festivals. The festivals strengthen the bond existing among the people. This adds a religious perspective for conservation of the forests.
|Collective of CCAs||-|
|Decision Making Body||Gram sabha|
|Rules and Regulations||Informal|
|Community activities through the year||-|
Traditional Village Council: The traditional village council comprises the Nayak, Barika and Disari. Nayak is the chief of the village and Disari is the religious head of the village. The Nayak takes decisions on all village socio-political matters while the Disari is the one who has the ultimate say on religious matters. Barika is the one who acts as a messenger of the Nayak. The decision of Nayak is communicated to the villagers, to the neighboring villages through Barika. Disari conducts the bigger rituals occasionally being assisted by Pujari. Amongst all the office bearers Barika, belongs to the non-tribal SC community. The traditional village council oversees the everyday matters in the village, dealing with conflicts and collaborations, social sanctions and solidarity, along with other religious, cultural and developmental affairs. In the traditional village council all office bearers are male. Women are not normally expected to attend such meetings though the decisions taken in the meeting are shared with them. It has already been said earlier that it is the women of the village who usually collect the minor forest produce from the forest. Therefore, any decision taken with regard to protection of forests does interest the women too. As Gori Bairobi, a woman leader as well as President of Hiradevi SHG, opines ‘we women also protect the forest and take interest in the proceedings of any meeting at the village regarding forest protection. Even if we remain uncalled for a meeting and are told about the proceedings, we still get to know about it. As long as there is no restriction imposed on anything as regards to the forest we do not need to be told. If any such decision is taken, they (men) cannot just keep it to themselves’. The statement speaks volumes about the mutual understanding among the villagers for a common interest, transparency and accountability on the part of each community member towards protection and conservation of forests. Both men and women of the village participate in the festivals with equal zest. The young boys and girls participate in the festivities with joy and vigour. In fact, whether religious festivals or other social functions, the participation of the youngsters is a distinctive feature of the tribal village. During discussion with the villagers about their social and cultural customs, the youngsters took as much part as the elderly people. The Gram Panchayat Office, Block Office, Forest Range Office, Tehsil, Police Station, Financial institutions, and NGOs like FES, Samprati, Prastutee are other external institutions with which the villagers of Sisaguda have direct and indirect interactions. Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) has been actively working with the community for energizing MGNREGS for better natural resource management. The NGO, as a facilitating body of NREGS-NRLM project under Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India is actively working engaging with the village communities for betterment of the FRA lands utilizing provisions under MGNREGA. That apart, the NGO is also active with their own initiative on claiming for commons through utilizing the space and provision under FRA for Community Forest Rights. FES has organized the village communities for claiming rights conferred under CFR of FRA over a forest patch of 38 ha which the village community has been protecting since years. The evidence based and procedural claiming process is going on. FES is also operating the program under Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation (BRLF) to expedite peoples’ reach, access and realization of government schemes and resources through a massive capacity building process for community members. The organization is also facilitating skill development of village youth for addressing the village development requirements with adequate information and resource back up. Another NGO called Samprati is also operating in the area for promotion of sustainable agriculture with focus on the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). It is also engaging itself in capacity building of PRI members and playing a watchdog role for strengthening MGNREGS in the area. Samprati is nominated by the district administration as the nodal NGO for MGNREGS social audit for the block. The organization Prastutee is working on Panchayat empowerment issues and National Food Security Act apart from various capacity building programs. Traditionally the village communities’ perception about functioning of government is shaped by their experience of interaction with the Revenue officials, forest officials, police personnel, and the development functionaries mostly functioning under the Block administration. Block and Tehasils at Pottangi are the two important institutions villagers know next to the Community Health Centre (CHC) located at Kunduli.
DECISION MAKING SYSTEMS
There is no formal organisation set up in the village for protection of forests. Nor is there any formal record keeping which would reflect the deliberations conducted in the meetings, decisions taken, new rules formulated etc. However, the business of forest protection is conducted with an easy informality and without much ado. The villagers do not elect office bearers for the executive committee, nor do they perform any roster duty to guard the forest. The villagers do not maintain any bank account though there is a norm of imposing fines on a person who is found to be stealing wood or any other forest product from the forest. The fines collected are deposited with the Nayak. All the villagers and the leaders from neighbouring villages meet once in a year to discuss matters relating to the forest and its protection. The big meeting is held in a mango grove locally known as “Raj Tota”. People from the nearby villages also attend the meeting. It has been mentioned earlier that the forest is protected by six villages namely Ranganiguda, Raiguda, Burudiguda, Pupadiguda, Phandei Sisaguda and Sisaguda jointly. The parts of the forest which would be protected by each one of the above villages is clearly demarcated by the ridge line running from the top of the hill downwards. Leading people from the nearby villagers attend the meeting. Each person brings with him some rice and an amount of Rs. 5 as their contribution towards a community feast. Women usually do not participate in such meetings. However, they used to communicate their concern through the male members in their family for discussions in the meeting. In recent times, the members of women SHGs have been participating in the meetings and articulating their concerns. Another important aspect is that young people seem to be taking keen interest in matters of forest protection. In fact, during discussion with the villagers, it is youngsters who constituted the majority of the participants.
As stated earlier, before initiating forest protection activities, the villagers consulted other leaders in the five habitations in the neighbourhood to arrive at a consensus to take up forest protection activities jointly. Once the stage was set, the villagers of Sisaguda framed certain rules to be observed by themselves. Since there was no formal institution then, the norms and rules were observed informally. First, the village head Nayak issued the order to stop slashing of forests for shifting cultivation and suggested people to relocate to the foothills and plain lands nearby for agriculture. The hill was made free from slash and burn agriculture to allow regeneration. The ordeal was well responded to by the villagers. Second, the informal rule system dictated that none of the villagers should enter into any other forest protected by any other village community for any of their needs. However, in certain cases, in consultation with leaders in other villages, one may gather some forest products from forests under protection by other villages. Due to such rule, the villagers started respecting the efforts of other villages and abstained themselves from any intrusion. The village institution reigns supreme and hence no other institution for forest protection was formed. No office bearers were ever elected or no records were ever maintained. When the inhabitants in the neighbourhood also took up forest protection in similar fashion and rule systems, remarkable solidarity developed among the villagers and their neighbourhood. All the villages are put together as one single unit. In the initial days of forest protection activities, the group of villages also identified one person from each village to dedicatedly conduct patrolling in the forest. It was also decided at the respective village level that every day one family, on turn basis, would provide three times food for the guard. Further, it was resolved that each household would contribute @20 Kg of millets towards annual remuneration of the guard. These resolutions could be successfully implemented. The villagers also put conditions on the guard that if he happens to spot anybody cutting trees in the forest he should immediately inform the Nayak (village head) of the village to which the person belongs. On the basis of the reporting, the Nayak would levy an appropriate fine to the offender. However, the guard provision has been withdrawn now as the villagers of all six villages have been behaving responsibly about the forest and that others in the area have well understood that any interference in the forest cannot go unnoticed. The Nayak is the custodian of the village funds which include fines collected for forest offences, and is also the political head of the village. The villagers do not maintain any bank account though there is a norm of imposing fines on a person who is found to be stealing wood or any other forest product from the forest. The fines collected are deposited with the Nayak. The villagers have developed a set of norms and rules in strict adherence to their traditional socio-political system in which the decision taken by the village head called Nayak is all pervading for the village. Disobeying such rule systems at the village level is considered a violation to supremacy of the village institution and the traditional socio-political system. Under customary rules, a household violating the decisions of the Nayak on village matters may be excommunicated if the rate of violation is considered severe. On the forest protection matters, any violation of norms and rules is considered a serious offence. The villagers are thus guided by their rule systems and hence have been showing a positive attitude to any collective decision in the interest of the village as a collective. The penal systems are nominal and there is no standard penalty chart in respect of types of offence ever decided by the village institution. In the early days of forest protection, some cases of violations were reported and discussed between leaders of the two parties in conflict. Some cases were there in which the villagers in the neighbourhood were accused of illegal intrusion into the forests protected by the villagers of Sisaguda. The leaders decided that whatever was taken out from their forest should be compensated in double quantity. Thus, the villagers of Sisaguda could make free access to exploit the neighbourhood forest for compensation, to the extent it was decided. The village institution does not levy any penalty for any violation done for the first time. They just reprimand the intruder and seize the materials like timbers or head loads of firewood collected from the forest. The seized materials are then used for community purposes.
|Community Forest Resource Rights (CFR)||CFR claim filed and in process|
|Date of filing CFR claim||-|
|Level of CFR claim||-|
|Date of recognition of CFR claim||-|
|Management plan status||-|
|Land Ownership||Government owned → Forest Department, Community Owned|
|Other Recognised Status||-|
Regarding awareness on laws and policies with regard to wildlife, forest rights etc, although they do not have larger awareness of the legislations yet they know that hunting of wildlife is a crime. Similarly, making forest clearances may lead the forest department to initiate a case against the one who cleared the forest. The villagers know that hunting certain animals like pangolins and monitors are serious crimes. However, the villagers have good awareness of the Forest Rights Act because of several NGOs working in their village and area. The villagers have built their case to become rightful claimants for CFR in favour of the forest patches they have been safeguarding for years. Although, each individual household in the village is more aware about the IFR provisions, their understanding on CFR and post-CFR title management is no less.
|Impact on Livelihoods and Subsistence||Non-timber forest produce|
|Social Impacts||Empowerment of women/youth/disadvantaged sections|
|Ecological Impact||Good diversity and population of wildlife|
|Internal Threats and Challenges||-|
|External Threats and Challenges||-|
Since the protection was accorded to the forests there has been developments on several counts. In the initial days when the forest was sort of sealed from any kind of exploitation, the forest got dense with weeds and undergrowths. However, the weeds, Lantana species in particular, provided for the fuel wood requirements of the village. Cleaning of weeds before the rainy season helped in facilitating regeneration and upcoming of new plants from the seeds deposited in the forest. In course of time, as of now, the forest has become diverse and well stocked. Over the last five years the villagers have been taking up seeding interventions along with plantation programs in relatively open spaces. Thus, the conservation initiative has contributed to restoration of endemic species and covering the open spaces that were devoid of vegetation. The people of the village were getting livelihood support from the forest products. According to the community members, the forest has now become a treasure of food source biodiversity including tubers, mushrooms, leafy vegetables, fruits, berries, etc. The tubers in particular are now available in plenty which are harvested by the tribal families in the village. The forest also provides many seasonal leafy vegetables, bamboo shoots, buds, flowers, berries and fruits. Over the years of protection, a good well stocked secondary forest has been possible to be restored. The forest now consists of dry deciduous miscellaneous scrub forest species throughout the area. The main tree species comprises Sahaj, Dhaura, Bija, Kumbhi, Kendu, Harida, Bahada, Amla, Sirisa, Karanja, Kusum, Sissoo, Tangan, Bandhan, Bela, Bhalia, Daman, Kanchan, Mango, Sunari, Jamun, Jackfruit etc. The scrub vegetation includes Kuduchi, Dhatuki, Girili, Basanga, Bhersunga, berries etc. Amongst the climbers Siali, Mankada Kendu, Palas lata, Satavari are mainly seen. The wildlife varieties that are spotted include Bear, Barking Deer, Wild Boar, Wild cat, Jackle, Rabbit, Mongoose, etc. As the villagers reflect upon their initiatives of forest protection, they believe that the conservation initiative has made a good impact on all aspects of their life. The village has come up together as a collective without any disagreement on anything on forest protection matters. This has developed solidarity among themselves. They believe that their gods and goddesses who reside in the forests that they have been protecting are happy with the people as reflected in optimum production and harvest of crops. The village has got wider publicity in the area for their forest protection activities and by that their working relationship with forest department, line departments and NGOs have become much easier. The present status of the forest has good potential to contribute to the household economy of the villagers in terms of supplementary income from NTFP, and also it has been a food reserve for the ultra poor in the community. The forest protection activities have reduced the drudgery of women. Now the women are engaging themselves in production activities being grouped under SHGs as they are not supposed to visit distant forests to collect fire wood or such other things.
The livelihood consideration is at the centre stage that has supported the conservation initiatives so far. The FRA is seen as an enabling legislation to further the efforts of conservation with more value attributes.
1) Forest fires that damage the available biomass of the hills. 2) Non-availability of regular work for the agriculture labours leads the ultra poor to depend more on forest 3) Alternative livelihood options are minimal which may cause people to take recourse to forests and cause over-exploitation 4) Land ownership disputes among villagers of Supadiguda, Ranginiguda, Raiguda, Gurudiguda and Phandai Sisaguda. 5) Leveraging resources from the forest department is seen as a challenge as long as Vana Samrakhyan Samiti (VSS) is formed in the village. 6) The CFR claim under FRA is still to be decided. The granting of title would encourage and energize people to take up scientific management of the forest claimed under CFR. 7) From the comparison of google earth imagery, it is possible to deduce that over a period of 12-13 years there has been significant improvement in forest cover on the said patch of forest. 8) The polygon at the other end of the picture identifies the habitation and shows the proximity of the village to the forest.
Villagers are confident that the biodiversity status will improve in the future due to larger awareness and greater sense of responsibility of the community towards forests and strong forest protection measures to ensure a sustainable ecosystem in future.
|Data Source||By external entity with permission of community member|
|Year of Study||-|
|License||CC BY Attribution|