|Number of households||42|
|Number of people||210|
The village Erasantaguda, a hamlet under the revenue village Sepaiput is situated at a distance of about 3 km from the National Highway No. 26, near Pottangi. The village is about 6 km from the block headquarters at Pottangi, 52 KM towards South from District headquarters at Koraput. The neighbouring villages surrounding the village are Sepaiput, Paraja Sepaiput, Tala Erasantaguda. Erasantaguda has a reputation as a good watershed village in the area. The village is in close proximity with the forests.
Leaving aside 14 landless families the average recorded land holding in this village is 1-2 acres. The landless families depend on wage labour entirely for their livelihood. One of the important crops that people raise on the hill slopes is ginger. Paddy is also grown in relatively plain lands or bounded lands. Almost all the farming families own cows and bullocks. Goats and sheep could have provided some supplementary income, but these small animals are no more reared after the goat population of the village was decimated following a severe drought 10 years ago
|Origin||New initiative by community|
|Year of Formation||-|
After setting up the village, the villagers used the foothill and valley lands for cultivation. The forests were dense and well stocked then. The villagers were getting adequate wild edibles for domestic consumption, NTFPs for trading in barter systems, and there was no dearth of fuel wood in the forest. The wildlife in the forest were occasionally predating over the field crops. Villagers had maintained harmonious relationships with forests. However, when the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) project came to the area, many outsiders came into the area and many of them started smuggling the timbers. When the big trees were smuggled out, the smugglers started cutting other trees and sold them as firewood. Such situations contributed to massive degradation of the said forests. About 20 years ago, the villagers started protecting the local forests after realizing a crisis in supplies from forests. As a responsive action, first they tried to stop the open grazing of their livestock in the concerned forests. Thus, they guided their goats and sheep to graze in nearby forests. After a while the neighboring villages opposed the free grazing of livestock of Erasantaguda in the forests of their villages. On a few occasions, the goats of Erasantaguda were detained by neighbouring villages. These unpleasant incidents led the villagers to think of controlled grazing simultaneously with protection of their own forests. After initiation of watershed programs in the village, the villagers were sensitized about the contribution of the forests in improving the fertility of their agricultural land, moderating the climate, besides providing timber for agricultural implements and materials for house construction. As a result, they could realize the importance of protecting forests for multiple economic benefits through ecological services. They engaged a watchman to watch and ward the forest. The villagers decided to collect household wise contributions to pay for the remuneration of the watchman both in cash and kind. A rule system evolved in the village. As a rule, every household contributed about 8 kgs of foodgrains per year towards payment of the watchman. The conservation initiatives may be seen as an outcome of several situations. Traditional belief systems are always associated with the forests. There are religious attributes associated with the forests, as the forest is believed to be the abode of several gods and goddesses. However, the motivation for conservation came as a responsive action to not allow further degradation of the forests. When they felt shortage of wild edibles and NTFPs from the forests to cater to the requirements of growing population, they came forward to protect the forest. Additionally, the implementation of watershed projects and the campaigns on participatory forest management in the area encouraged the villagers to protect their forest. As stated earlier, the outsiders who came into the area during the HAL project caused massive destruction to the forest by smuggling wood. The people in the neighboring village of Sepaiput also continued to extract firewood from their forests to sell in the market. The villagers of Erasantaguda many times confronted the villagers of Sepaiput on the matters of cutting and felling of fuel wood by the latter, however, to no positive result. Thus, villagers of Erasantaguda wanted to safeguard their forest by regular watch and ward activities. The villagers of Sepaiput still continued to cut and carry fuel wood secretly, for which the villagers of Erasantaguda guided their livestock for grazing in the forests around Sepaiput. When the Sepaiput villagers did not allow the grazing of livestock belonging to Erasantaguda in their forests, then it opened space for negotiation. Informally, it was decided that no village would enter into forests in the jurisdiction of the other village and that triggered collective actions at the village level to protect each other’s forests.
1) Narsi Pangi’s great grandfather was the first inhabitant of the village who came there and set up the settlement about 150 years ago.
2) About 20 years ago, the villagers started protecting the local forests after realizing crisis in supplies from forests
3) occurrence of a drought 10 years ago
4) Since 2013, an NGO Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) extended its works to Erasantaguda village and provided hand holding support to add values to the protection efforts made so far.
The landholding of the villagers put them in the marginal land holder category. The yield from agriculture provided them food security for 6 to 9 months. Forest was providing food security for the remaining period in a year. Thus, the forests have been associated with their food security and household economy in a subsistence setting. About 4 decades ago there was a very limited market for NTFP and hence the supply from forests really mattered for food security. With degradation of forests the villagers realized that their agricultural production per unit area dwindled too. In order to maintain nutrient provisioning for the agriculture fields, the land holders took a larger interest in protecting the forests. For the landless families, forest was the only source of livelihood and thus they sincerely wanted to protect the forests to maintain supply of wild edibles and NTFPs. With the implementation of the watershed project, the villagers became more aware about the ways and means to enhance their agricultural production, its linkages with the forest and the importance of ecological services that the forests provide. These new concepts encouraged them to care for their forests.
|Collective of CCAs||-|
|Decision Making Body||Gram sabha|
|Rules and Regulations||Informal|
|Community activities through the year||-|
The village as a whole came together to save the forest from further degradation as an informal collective. As a prerequisite to watershed project implementation in the village, a formal watershed development committee was constituted. The Watershed Development Committee is the first formal community based organization in the village. The watershed committee has taken the lead in organizing forest protection activities since then. The villagers integrated their norms of forest protection with the norms of the watershed development committee. The norms and rules thus formed were modified from time to time based on the requirements. The modifications were suggested and adopted through rounds of discussions within the village. It is during these initial days, an NGO called Pragati involved the village communities in its campaign for participatory forest management and that had its typical influence in changing the mindset of villagers from users to owners. The villagers in course of time developed working relationships with various government agencies such as the Panchayat Samiti (Block), the Forest Department and the Soil Conservation Department. Since 2013, an NGO, Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) , has extended its works to Erasantaguda village and provided hand holding support to add values to the protection efforts made so far. FES has been engaging itself in empowering the villagers in Erasantaguda to better access the entitlements under FRA for Community Forest Rights (CFR). The village does not have a formal forest protection committee, but decisions about management of the forest are taken collectively and unanimously. From the conversations it appeared that women did not participate in the meetings, but they were aware of the decisions being taken. As stated earlier, all sections of the community – land holders and landless, men and women, all have been involved in the protection activities without any discrimination. Involvement of outside agencies, especially NGOs have enormously contributed to empowerment of the village institution and strategising the protection activities and also in facilitating access to entitlements. In the past, Pragati NGO made them aware about participatory forest management, and at present, FES has been facilitating natural regeneration
DECISION MAKING SYSTEMS
The village does not have a formal forest protection committee, but decisions about management of the forest are taken collectively and unanimously. Though green felling of trees is not allowed, sometimes green trees are cut as a part of silvicultural operations. The villagers meet to discuss the general affairs of the village twice in a year, once during Dussehera (autumn) and again immediately after winter. The Nayak (traditional village head) is the custodian of the village funds. If a fine is collected from someone for a forest offence, the amount is deposited with the Nayak.
Whenever there used to be any conflict between Erasantaguda village and a neighbouring village, the challan (village messenger) informs the headmen of two villages as well as specific families involved in it. A date convenient to all the parties is fixed for a dispute resolution meeting. In this meeting the submissions of all the relevant parties are heard. Then the committee decides which party is at fault and what punishment would be proportionate to the fault. The punishment is imposed either in the form of money, grains or domestic animals like a cow or a goat. While the punishment works as a deterrent, usually it stands the test of reasonableness.
The role of the Gram Panchayat was minimal in strengthening forest protection activities by the village.
People of Erasantaguda had got some community rights or nistar rights over the local forests under the ruler of the former Jeypore estate. Under the prevalent rules the inhabitants of Jeypore Estate were allowed to remove all unreserved species free of charge and without permit. The king identified 43 scheduled tribes as privilege holders and they were allowed to remove reserve tree species up to 3 feet girth free of charge. The rayats were also allowed to use the unreserved and protected lands for grazing of their domestic animals. All the rights, concessions and privileges enjoyed by the people were subject to the condition that if a given forest resource is exhausted or exploitation of the resource is detrimental to the general health of forests the rights, concessions or privileges shall cease to exist. 2)
Upper Erasantaguda village has three neighbouring villages namely, Sipaiput, P. Sipaiput and T. Erasantaguda. Now, all the three villages are on good terms with each other, they observe different festivals together, and respect the rather informal rule systems developed by respective villages for forest protection. Recently, the villagers of all the three villages have set a collective norm that they would lift the restrictions of entering into each other’s forests and look forward to adopting a common watch and ward system for the contiguous stretch of forests under protection by the villages. The differences in opinions are narrowing down and the four villages are looking forward to working as one single unit.
The villagers do not feel that there is any serious conflict within the village or among the neighbouring villages. Whenever there is any conflict between Erasantaguda village and a neighbouring village, the challan (village messenger) informs the headmen of two villages as well as specific families involved in it. A date convenient to all the parties is fixed for a dispute resolution meeting. In this meeting the submissions of all the relevant parties are heard. Then the committee decides which party is at fault and what punishment would be proportionate to the fault. The punishment is imposed either in the form of money, grains or domestic animals like a cow or a goat.
|Legal Status||CFR under FRA|
|Community Forest Resource Rights (CFR)||CFR claims recognised|
|Date of filing CFR claim||-|
|Level of CFR claim||-|
|Date of recognition of CFR claim||-|
|Management plan status||-|
|Land Ownership||Community Owned|
|Other Recognised Status||-|
|Impact on Livelihoods and Subsistence||Non-timber forest produce|
|Social Impacts||Mitigation of external threat|
|Ecological Impact||Improved/sustained ecological services|
|Internal Threats and Challenges||-|
|External Threats and Challenges||-|
The initiatives taken by Erasantaguda village is exemplary and remarkable for their thrust on maintaining and restoring the endemism in biodiversity in their forest. There were differentially dependent households on the forests. Those who were exclusively dependent and those who were dependent at subsistence level have gradually turned towards agriculture as an impact of forest protection initiatives. It was seen that parts of the village land were treated under a watershed programme some years ago. Under this programme, staggered trenches were dug and some plantation was taken up. Field channels were constructed to improve the irrigation system. It is evident that people got some employment in the watershed work which provided them with an additional income. It is also evident that the quality of land improved after the watershed treatment interventions. Supply of NTFP has increased. Acacia, Salapa and Jackfruit trees have been planted by people. It was found that people collect 14-15 types of edible leaves and 5-6 varieties of roots from the forest. These items contribute to their food security. The items that are sold in the market include Siali leaves, Amla, Char seeds and Sindhi (date palm). The other NTFP available in small quantities includes Hill broom, Mango, Jackfruit, Tamarind, Harida, Bahada, Amla, Kendu, Jamun, Date, Siali leaves, wild turmeric, Marda kanda, Sarenda Kanda, Targai kanda, Pit Kanda, neem seeds, char seeds, honey etc. The other significant impact has been that the conflicts that were occurring with neighboring villages have turned to collaborations.
1) Livelihood benefits
2) Participatory forest management campaigns
3) Involvement of FES
Some of the challenges are inadequate forest related projects, except plantations, with adequate opportunity for wage labour. Also, no formal committee to undertake forest developmental activities.