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The Jhanjharmata Vruksh Utpadan Sahkari Mandli Ltd (JVUSM) was set up by the people of Malekpur village of Bhiloda taluka. Established in the year in 1984–5. Today it has a total membership of 205, of which 170 are males and 35 females. The Dungri Garasia community of the village have been protecting a total forest area of 163 hectares.
|Year of Formation||-|
Until the early 1960s, the forest was under the direct supervision of the Vijaynagar jagirdar and the villagers had little to do with the forest. They had no rights over it. Dry wood, leaves, fruits and flowers in the forest were free for them, even though permission of the jagirdar was a must. The threat of severe punishment for culprits resulted in the preservation of greenery in the region. After 1960, the degradation of the forest began with the abolition of the jagirdari system. Most of the trees were illegally cut by the jagirdars. For the tribal people, especially those in the lower income group, the forest became a quick money-making source. It also led to large-scale timber smuggling and sale of forest products, and soon the forests of the village were completely wiped out. This had an impact on the overall economy of the area.
Malekpur in Bhiloda taluka of Gujarat is one of the oldest joint forest management (JFM) villages in the area. The forests in this area used to be under the control of the jagirdars which prevented illegal felling of trees due to the punishments. Once this system was abolished, the forest was excessively felled which caused degradation, so this region was brought under the control of the Joint Forest Management scheme. Eventually, with the help of the JVUSM, 122 hectares of forest were completely regenerated. Biodiversity was very important to these villagers and this forest provided NTFP which the villagers sold to gain income. Due to efficient protection by the people, the forest regenerated quickly. Unique fuelwood collection systems were used to ensure that the forest was cut down in a sustainable way. Equity was also established using a different system of sharing fodder grass which made sure that equal amounts of grass went to every household. This proved beneficial for the poorer sections and the women of the village.
|Collective of CCAs||-|
|Decision Making Body||JFM committee|
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|Community activities through the year||Regulation of harvest, Patrolling, watch and ward|
Equity became one of the major concerns after the initial few years of taking up protection. As open grazing and entry into the forests for grass and firewood collection were stopped, women started facing problems in meeting their firewood and fodder demands. To address this, the co-operative society allotted a portion of the forest patch for collection of firewood and fodder. Further, as the benefits from the forests started flowing in, the issue was to distribute them equitably among the members. The panchyati raj institution ensures that all the members participate in grass collection and cut-back operations on the dates specified for them and the product is shared on the basis of the shareholding. It was ensured that the poor and landless families and especially women have a voice not only in protection and management but also in decision making and benefit sharing.
In the initial years only dry and fallen twigs were permitted to be collected, but the problems faced by the villagers in the availability of fuelwood forced the members to rethink this issue and they evolved a plan to address it. The villagers made a general survey of the village forest and, according to the density of the trees, they demarcated the forests into five different zones. It was decided that the villagers will carry out cut-back and pruning activities in these patches. One patch is selected every year and the materials harvested are distributed among the members. Thus, as per the plan, the cutback and pruning activities were carried out in the respective patches once in every five years. This has helped the villagers to gather more fuelwood from the forest area. Members of the executive committee helped to supervise the whole process and saw to it that the bigger trees were not cut in the process and only the branches and other smaller twigs were harvested. Again the villagers formed themselves into different groups and only one or two members from each group are allowed to carry the axe into the forest area and carry out the actual harvesting, while the other members of the group help in gathering and transporting the material out of the forest area. This process is carried out every year and it is thus assured that all households of the village get equal access to fuelwood.
Out of 167 ha forest area , 45 ha was totally barren, on which the FD carried out plantation. The remaining 122 ha of land had the potential for regeneration due the presence of root stock. The cooperative initiated protection of forest in 1986; the area was closed for open grazing and free cutting to facilitate regeneration. Today, the forests of Malekpur have regenerated.
Due to protection activities the people have also started getting benefits in terms of increased fuel-wood supply, timru-leaf collection, and fodder-grass collection. Malekpur village has helped in promoting JFM concept in other villages.
FODDER GRASS SHARING MECHANISMS
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|Ecological Impact||Natural habitat preservation, Improved/sustained ecological services|
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A study on vegetation dynamics carried out in the village forests showed growth of 35 species, the most dominant being teak, a valuable timber species. The six other major species were khakhra, neem, timru, dhaman, garmala and umbiya.
The ecological changes could be perceived from the increase in production of timru and collection of other gums from the forest. Collection of timru leaves has also seen a major increase in the past several years.
The other ecological changes were a check on soil erosion, increase in ground water recharge, increase in humus and soil fertility and standing biomass. Further, these ecological processes have also improved habitat conditions, which now attract a variety of small mammals, birds, and insects. The changing status of ecological conditions has shown an indirect positive influence on agricultural productivity and animal husbandry, which is a significant source of livelihood for the local tribals.
The protecting individuals have a deep concern for biodiversity, more so because they use a range of forest produce from a large number of species. Edible flowers, fruits, leaves, roots etc. form a part of their diet. Some edible items are also sold in the market to meet cash needs. Leaves of forest species (Butea monosperma) are used to make leaf plates. Medicinal plants such as safed musli are also used by the local people. Timru leaves and mahua are important sources of income. To these tribal people, the NTFPs are a lifeline; they are usually collected for consumption, home use and for sale. This vital link is reflected in the traditions and customs of tribal groups.
In Malekpur, turnover from mahua and timru leaves grew six- and eightfold respectively. Similarly, the production of fodder grass and fuelwood has been on the increase. This success can be attributed to efficient protection by people, resulting in vigorous forest regeneration.
|Data Source||From publicly available sources|
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