|Category of CCA||Defined|
|Number of households||62|
|Number of people||300|
The village Champakhenda, is about 85 years old, situated at a distance of 1 km from the Gram panchayat headquarters, 5 km from the block headquarters. and 1 km from the National Highway No. 26, near Pottangi. The word Champakhenda is composed of two words, Champa meaning flower and Khenda meaning the intersection area between two hills and forests; giving a sense of the landscape and dominant vegetation where the village is situated. The forests used and cared for by the village community lie to the North and Eastern side of the village. Four patches of forests under the community protection and management are Kidarpabli (4 hectares), Suliapabli (16 hectares), Baghajhola (50 hectares) and Kakadarangani (40 hectares), located on the North and north Eastern side of the village beyond the main road connecting Pukali. To the Eastern side of the village, the forest Suliapabli is located in close proximity to the village. To the western side of the village the Sargiguda revenue village is situated of which the Champakhenda is a hamlet. These forests constitute a major part of the village Common Property Resources (CPR).
Gadaba Tribe makes the dominant population in the village comprising 47 households. There are 8 households belonging to the Paraja Tribal community. The Gadabas and Parajas have their distinct dialects. While the Gadabas speak Gutab, the Parajas speak Desia language. However, for common purposes they speak in a mix of Desia and colloquial Odia. Except for 5 Scheduled caste households, it is an entirely tribal village. Excluding seven households (5 ST and 2 SC), all other households in the village own some agricultural land, though the size of the holdings is rather small. The villagers consider agriculture as their mainstay and supplement their income from agriculture with wage earning, livestock rearing and forest collections for livelihoods. Kharif is the main agriculture season and due to lack of irrigation the villagers remain confined to only one crop a year. From the discussion with the villagers it emerged that agriculture contributes to their livelihood to the extent of about 50%. Agricultural labour constitutes 20% of their livelihood. Most of the families have cattle, small ruminants like sheep and goat and also rear country birds which happen to provide them cash income at the time of dire situations. The forests provide critical livelihoods support, to the extent of about 15-20%, that too during the lean seasons. Paddy is the main crop and mainly grown in summer. Some households who have land beside streams are privileged to cultivate paddy in other seasons also, but such cases are very rare. Traditional practices of cooperative labour use and exchange helps the communities in carrying out their production processes timely, effectively and cheaply. People cooperate with one another in the agricultural operations, especially for ginger cultivation. When they lend a helping hand for growing crops in the fields of one another, they do it for a nominal wage.
|Origin||Revived by community initiative|
|Year of Formation||-|
The foothills of the forests lying to the Northern and North-Eastern side of the village, such as the Kidarpabli, Baghjhola and Kakarangni have been used for shifting cultivation since long. The foothill lands where the cultivation was concentrated was called Adu Pabli once upon a time and subsequently was known as Bhalia Bada (Cashew orchard) after massive plantations were undertaken in those patches by the soil conservation department. The villagers applied for legitimate rights over such patches under the provisions contained under Forest Rights Act. Twenty five families have been granted forest rights at the rate of 2 acres per eligible family over such lands now. Thus, the foothill lands are gradually being developed as agricultural lands. The village has a big dug out near the Suliapabli hill which used to be a pond that has gone dry over the years. According to elderly people, they used to take up pisciculture in the pond as a community enterprise. The villagers are also keen about restoring the pond for water to irrigate their fields nearby the pond. The conservation initiative that was initiated about three decades ago is seen as a responsive action of the community towards maintaining their fuelwood requirements, construction materials, preventing soil erosion and maintaining the supply of NTFPs that contributed to their subsistence and contingent requirements, through protection of the forest. According to the village communities their traditional village council took a call on the community concerns over degradation of the forest. It was a time when massive tree felling was done by intruders coming from other areas who used to smuggle wood for industrial and market needs. When the forest got degraded the traditional village council took the decision to protect it. In later times a Forest Protection Committee was constituted at the behest of the traditional council.
The community conservation initiatives by and large address the livelihood and socio-economic reasons and biodiversity conservation. The villagers in Champakhenda have been depending on the forests for varieties of requirements. About thirty years ago, the villagers faced hardship in getting minimum basic supplies from the forest in terms of fuel wood, construction materials, wild edibles and certain NTFPs, they felt the need for coordinating their efforts to protect the forest, sustain the primary production in forest and ensure supply of basic necessities from the forest. Forest protection activities thus became a need-based drive. According to the villagers, the nearby forests had almost lost their primary forest cover. Baghjhola Dongar was looking like a barren hill. The villagers resolved to reduce their dependency on such forests and wanted to organize watch and ward activities to ensure that other villagers and outsiders can take nothing out of such forests.
|Collective of CCAs||-|
|Decision Making Body||Others → Forest protection committee|
|Rules and Regulations||-|
|Community activities through the year||Patrolling, watch and ward|
All the households in the village irrespective of discriminations are involved in the conservation initiatives. The community level organizations such as the traditional village council, youth club, women SHGs are primarily involved in the initiative. External organizations, forest department and other agencies are also involved directly or indirectly encouraging the community protection. As for the younger generation, there exists a youth club and it is mainly involved in development of the village. Youth club members often take decisions in consultation with the traditional village council. They take adequate interest in the public relation matters of the village and also on official matters of common interest. Occasionally they instigate collective action at the village level taking leadership for synergizing efforts at the village level. For example, the youth club initiates and facilitates the cleanliness drive in the village, takes the lead in negotiating with the Panchayat for village development. The youth club, however, has all male members. Rama Khila and Trinath Khila have been nominated as President and Secretary of the Youth club respectively. With regard to the involvement of women. There are three SHGs in the village and they seem to be the most vibrant community based organizations in the village. In each SHG there are 12 to 15 members. The women in the SHGs have been very instrumental in restricting branch cutting of trees for fuelwood, restricting over-exploitation of available NTFPs, preventing open grazing in the forest, limiting extraction of leaves for cottage enterprises, undertaking plantations and clearing invasives from the forest. The SHG members are also engaging themselves in watch and ward activities in the daytime and thereby protect the forest from exploitation by any outsider. There is a significant contribution of women in the whole initiative. Women usually do not participate in regular issue - based meetings. However, in certain occasions the women groups conduct separate meetings for articulating their concerns, if any, on the matters of forest. After discussions, they share the proceedings with male members in the family which is ultimately brought to the notice of Nayak and the members of village forest committee. Usually they discuss the status of supply of fuel wood, tubers, NTFPs, interference by people from neighboring villages, etc. In the village an informal women’s watch committee for forests led by Kausalya Khilo is evolving. The Gram Panchayat Office, Block Office, Forest Range Office, Watershed department, and NGOs are other external institutions with which the villagers of Champakhenda have direct and indirect interactions. The Forest Department in particular, is involving itself in provisioning for plantations and silvicultural operations. The relationship with the forest department is neutral and non-demanding. The Gram panchayat office. Being more attached to the villagers contributes to the cause indirectly. The villagers are of the view that the elected representatives of the GP cooperate with them and give due priority to their village in matters of welfare programmes and projects.
DECISION MAKING SYSTEMS
The villagers are the main decision maker. The villagers have constituted an informal forest protection committee in the village. This committee was constituted about 30 years ago when they felt the need to respond collectively to ensure adequate supplies from the forest. The forest protection committee works as an extended hand of the traditional village council and takes help of the youth club for protection activities in the current scenario. The village head Nayak leads the committee and the village Barika assists the head. Apart from them there are three other members. Since this is sort of an informal committee the role of Nayak is more authoritative. Forest related meetings are held by the villagers 2-3 times in a year. One such meeting is held after the rainy season and just before the onset of winter. In these meetings the forest protection activities and the status of forest health are usually discussed and reviewed. On the basis of the discussions at village level, decisions are taken about restricting and/or lifting ban on certain interferences. However, on certain occasions the forest committee may sit over issues like smuggling from forest, conflicts arising out of sharing of benefits and cut and carry by people from other villages. Although these issues are not confronted very often, yet space is there in their informal resolution for calling special meetings to discuss these issues. During the interaction, people recalled that they had to convene special meetings when the villagers of Sindhei continuously extracted fuel wood and construction materials from the forests protected by Champakhenda. In the matters of conflict resolution, the traditional village council, the youth club and the forest protection committees act as a single unit. Thus, the forest committee is a well coordinated one. In the forest committee all the households are members but the committee is constituted with male members only. There has been no external facilitation for functioning of the committee. The forest protection committee oversees the watch and ward activities, conflict resolution, creation of village funds for forest protection and regeneration, selection of persons for watch and ward and other related matters.
Over a period, a set of rules and norms have evolved for protection, management, benefit sharing and conflict resolution related to forests. Decisions are taken on democratic process without challenging authority of traditional village institutions on time for collection of firewood, imposition of fine on someone found to have stolen any forest produce unauthorizedly, inter-village disputes, etc. As a rule, any family in the village requiring some construction materials from the forest first informs the Nayak and takes his approval for extraction of materials from the forest. In none of the cases the family can extract more resources than the approved quantity. There has been no instance so far regarding any violation of the Nayak’s approval. In the occasions of community festivals, rituals like marriage and mortuary rites a similar approval is taken from the Nayak to extract fuel wood and other requirements from the forest. In case, if any neighboring village requests certain provisions from the forest for a communal occasion the villagers of Champakhenda consider the genuine requirement and allow extraction of the resources. If any house in the neighboring village is gutted by fire or houses are destroyed due to any natural disaster then the villagers of Champakhenda help out whole heartedly in granting the extraction of construction materials from their forests. However, the following rules are in operation- 1) no large tree is cut without approval of the entire village. Any individual who requires wood for making farm implements has to communicate with the village forest committee for his requirements. 2) People of the village are allowed to collect dry branches and twigs to meet domestic firewood requirements. 3) When silvicultural operations are made, all the households share the slashes equally. 4) The ultra-poor families are granted all time access to the forest to collect NTFPs for domestic consumption and sale. 5) In case of massive damage to forest due to tree felling by outsiders, the amount of fine is collectively decided by the Forest Department and the Village Forest Committee. 6) Cutting of damaged trees if required is done in a systematic manner i.e cutting the tree at an inclined angle to promote coppice generation. 7) Committee members must take rounds of the forest every day to ensure proper protection and conservation of the village forest. 8) Fuel wood collected only by head load. Other vehicles are not allowed. 9) As a rule, any family in the village requiring some construction materials from the forest first informs the Nayak and takes his approval for extraction of materials from the forest. In none of the cases the family can extract more resources than the approved quantity. The forest protection rules set by the villagers are ingrained in them. Over the years, abiding by the rule systems have become common habits. The villagers, more particularly the women, feel that because of the rule systems they could develop the forest as an asset for themselves. The general attitude of the villagers is very positive. In the village meetings decisions are taken on the gravity of violations on the basis of which penalty is decided. For example, a fine of Rs. 200/- each was imposed on as many as 8 persons in the village who sold firewood to school. If a person of another village is found to be stealing timber from the forest, the people of Champakhenda village retaliate by capturing a goat from the offending village. The goat is released only when the stolen timber is returned. There are hardly any intra-village conflicts. Although there has been no instance so far regarding any violation of the Nayak’s approval. Any person found cutting trees without permission from the forest has to pay a fine in proportion to the damage done by him to the forest. In case of massive damage to forest due to tree felling by outsiders, the amount of fine is collectively decided by the Forest Department and the Village Forest Committee.
The village enjoys access to about 275 acres of forests and common land distributed in four patches used for several purposes starting from cattle grazing to NTFP collections. However, Suliapabli forest, considered as village forest, is most accessed due to its proximity to the village.
|Legal Status||Forest Area under IFA → Unclassed forest|
|Community Forest Resource Rights (CFR)||-|
|Date of filing CFR claim||-|
|Level of CFR claim||-|
|Date of recognition of CFR claim||-|
|Management plan status||-|
|Land Ownership||Government owned → Forest Department|
|Other Recognised Status||-|
Regarding the awareness of laws and policies related to forest and wildlife is relative. Through interactions with Forest Department functionaries and various awareness programs they have understood that slashing forests for agriculture, hunting wildlife are punishable under law. However, people have a better awareness of their entitlements under the Forest Rights Act. In the village, the Forest Right Committee has been set up under provisions contained in the Scheduled Tribes and Other traditional Forest Dwellers (recognition of Rights) Act, 2006 at the revenue village level. The committee operates from Sargiguda. There are three persons; two men and one woman who represent Champakhenda to the FRC at Sargiguda. The committee is responsible for preparing and validating claims for recognition of individual and community forest rights. It is a formal committee with representation of women. The committee is a statutory committee set to claim the Community Forest Rights and to lead the Forest Management practices in the post title recognition phase.
|Impact on Livelihoods and Subsistence||-|
|Social Impacts||Revival or continuation of cultural/religious associations|
|Ecological Impact||Good diversity and population of wildlife, Improved/sustained ecological services|
|Internal Threats and Challenges||Conflict with other communities|
|External Threats and Challenges||Unwanted extraction|
When the protection activities were initiated there were visibly no wildlife in the forest. However, over the years of protection, wildlife like pea-fowlsbear, jackal, civets, antelope, mongoose, mouse deer and rabbits are spotted now. The wildlife spotting in the forests is considered as an indicator that the forest is growing, as per the version of local people. In the last 20-25 years, the status of biodiversity has improved tremendously in the forest due to the efforts of the community. And the people expect that the quality of flora and fauna will grow further in future. Many varieties of endemic vegetation that were sort of lost have been restored. However, the management of invasive species, especially Lantana and Pogostomon is now a point of concern for the villagers. The forest protection activities have made the village communities behave as an endowed social capital. Culturally, keeping the forest at centre, they observe various festivals and functions throughout the year that contribute to solidarity in the village. Economically, the villagers are getting varieties of NTFPs for domestic consumption and market demands, and the supplies from the forest have increased. There are a range of intangible benefits realized in terms of ecological services such as nutrient provisioning to low lands, soil moisture retention, increase in population of pollinators, cultural services and aesthetic services. Moreover, the village has been acknowledged for its community level collective initiatives that have brought them recognition and hence the government departments are taking interest in investing in the village.
1) Livelihood benefits is the most important factor supporting conservation.
2) Awareness by SHGs and NGOs for better conservation of village forest.
3) Potential for leveraging from soil conservation, watershed, forest departments
Some of the challenges are the following:
1) The expansion of mining by NALCO in the nearby areas is a growing concern, as by several means it would put pressure on the forests.
2) The younger generation is more oriented towards timber than diversity. The traditional knowledge and perceptions on forests and ecosystem services are gradually fading away. While the older generation is advocating in favour of protecting and propagating diversity, the younger generation is on the side of plantation of exotic timber species.
3) Restricting neighbouring villages from fuel wood collection is still seen as a challenge on grounds of emotional and socio-cultural exchanges. The villagers allow exploitation of their forest by the neighboring villages for meeting domestic requirements, but feel concerned about the loads of extraction. They see it as a challenge to gradually reduce the dependency by neighboring villages.
4) Formalizing forest protection committee: The forest protection committee is working in an informal approach and does not maintain records of village meetings, offences and violation of protection norms, conflict resolutions, penalty collected, NTFP harvested and such other relevant information. Institution building process poses strong challenges.
The community is aspiring to get Community Forest Rights over the forest that they have been protecting since the last three decades. After getting the title they plan to put together rigorously and religiously to prepare post-title management plans in consultation with local NGOs and follow up with that. The communities are serious about strengthening the assisted natural regeneration by caring the saplings in forest and by plantations to increase the diversity. The community plans to follow rotational exploitation of forests and absolutely restrict grazing in the forest as part of the post-CFR-title management plan.
|Data Source||By external entity with permission of community member|
|Year of Study||2019|