|Ecosystem Type||Forest, Others → Mountain Ecosystem|
|Number of households||170|
|Number of people||1500|
Thanamir Village is nestled at the base of Mount Saramati (3,841m), Nagaland’s highest peak. This region falls under the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot (Conservation International), and the Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary and Saramati Area, an Important Bird Area recognized by Birdlife International, and Key Biodiversity Area.
Thanamir’s community forest spans nearly 6500 ha and has three main rivers- Rahmong-toh, Ariwung-toh and Wuhri-toh.
This landscape is mountainous and the habitat varies in response to elevation, ranging from Subtropical Evergreen, Temperate Broadleaf, Northern Montane Wet Temperate Forests to Alpine Scrub, and is home to diverse fauna. These include different types of oak, rhododendron, interspersed with bamboo, cane and, pine. A majority of this region, particularly higher elevations are primary forests, coupled with secondary growth from fields abandoned over 20 years ago, forming scrubby slopes.
Ecological research has documented over 25 mammal species, 70 butterfly and moth species, and 245 bird species in Thanamir’s community forest. Mammal species include populations of barking deer Muntiacus muntjak, red serow Capricornis rubidus, Himalayan black bear Ursus thibetanus,
Assamese macaque Macaca assamensis, stump-tailed macaque Macaca arctoide, Asiatic wild dog Cuon alpinus, and the elusive spotted linsang Prionodon pardicolor. Further, this forest is home to the standard four wild cat species found in this region- leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis, marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata, golden cat Catopuma temmincki and clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosi. Recently, a clouded leopard was photo- captured through a camera trap at record heights of 3,700m, one of highest in the world. Bird species include the elusive Hodgson's frogmouth, Rufous-necked Hornbills and galliformes such as the Blyth's Tragopan (Nagaland's state bird) and Hume's Pheasant.
Thanamir is home to the indigenous Yimkhiung Naga, whose belief system is an amalgamation of the Christian faith and traditional animism. The Yimkhiung speak five different dialects including Langa, Chirr, Makori, Longphür and Phünongrü. A majority of Thanamir residents speak Chirr-Yimkhiung, whereas Langa-Yimkhiung is the common dialect spoken by all community members. Nagamese, Hindi and English are also spoken among residents.
Residents rely predominantly on nature-based livelihoods such as slash and burn agriculture, logging, fish farming, hunting, mushroom picking, bee-keeping, apple farming, etc. Men and women both practice swidden or jhum farming, and predominantly grow kholar (kidney beans), maize, rice and vegetables. Some residents pursue service and government jobs in nearby towns and cities.
Thanamir currently has a government primary school and was upgraded to a middle school in 2021 (infrastructure estimated to be completed by 2023). Students also enrol in primary and high school in nearby towns such as Salumi and Pungro.
Mt. Saramati brings hundreds of local and international tourists to Thanamir each year. The village, known in the state as the ‘Apple village of Nagaland’, also hosts an annual Apple Festival expanding tourism activities.
|Origin||New initiative by community|
|Year of Formation||-|
|Motivations||Livelihood, Ecological functions, Self empowerment, Wild biodiversity conservation|
When the village was established in the 1940s, areas were demarcated for people’s fields (for farming and timber collection). New settlers were also given fields from the designated area which are part of the community forests. There are designated common areas for the entire community to collect firewood and NTFP. The community practices swidden farming or jhum as it is known locally. There are nine different sites where people have fields, and two-three of them are used at once to cultivate. The community, led by the gaon burrahs, collectively decide when to leave the cultivation sites and clear out old ones to move to.
Most Thanamir residents are directly dependent on natural resources to meet their food, material and cash needs. Parts of their community forest have been used for hunting and collection of firewood, NTFP, and timber. Over the years, to curb over-hunting and conserve their natural resources, residents of Thanamir have reserved two different areas as CCAs, with different rules and regulations.
In 1973 youth from the village formed the student union under the first president Mr. H. Athong. They established the TVSU Reserve-CCA at this time with the aim to preserve the rich flora and fauna of their community forest. Throughout the past 5 decades since its establishment, the TVSU Reserve has restricted all kinds of extraction.
In 2010, former Nagaland Chief Minister Shri. Shurhozelie Liezietsu visited Thanamir and saw the rich biodiversity in the region. He proposed the idea of protecting the region to the then Village Council Chairman Mr. Tsuseki. This idea was then pitched to the government and the Wuhrhetoh-neh Lhokimvong region was selected as a CCA in 2011-12.
1973: Thanamir Village Students’ Union (TVSU) was formed and they initiated the formation of a small 100ha reserve to be protected and managed by them.
2006-2007: Resolution no. 7 (Act 2006 & 207) enacted by the YAA on the prohibition of hunting species such as the tiger, tragopan, hornbill, black bear, gaur and hoolock gibbon, punishable with a fine of Rs. 50,000.
2011-12: Leaders from Thanamir Villagers reached out to the government for support and formed the WL-CCA in Thanamir’s community forest.
2015: A watch-tower is built in WL-CCA from funds given by the forest department.
2015: A team of residents collaborated with Delhi-based NGO Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) to conduct a pilot camera-trap based study to detect mammal diversity.
2016: Neighbouring villages with contiguous forests Fakim, Thanamir and Vongtsuvong form a joint council for conservation after a meeting in Fakim Village.
2020-21: A team of residents and WPSI conducted camera trap studies to determine mammal diversity and abundance. In 2021, they underwent training and began documenting bird diversity and populations.
2021 (January): The Joint Council of Fakim, Thanamir and Vongtsuvong Village wins the Nagaland Governor's Award for outstanding contribution for Conservation and Protection of Environment.
2021 (December): TVSU annual general session takes place in December and rules for Thanamir’s community forest are revised.
The primary motivation to declare both the CCAs in Thanamir was to protect the biodiversity from over consumption and local extinction in their own forest. Further, residents wanted to conserve resources and forest wealth for their families and future generations.
|Collective of CCAs||-|
|Decision Making Body||Thanamir Village Student's Union|
|Rules and Regulations||Formal|
|Community activities through the year||Regulation of harvest, Plantations and restoration activities|
Over time, numerous people have been involved in the conservation efforts in Thanamir.
A group of Thanamir’s gaon burrahs approached Lt. Mr. Toshi Wungtung, a Yimkhiung leader and ex-MLA and Advisor, and other government leaders for support in protecting the Saramati region and Thanamir’s forest. In 2012, Mr. Toshi reached out to Delhi-based NGO Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) for support to conduct research and give the council recommendations on conservation plans. Then, in 2015 WPSI began collaborating with residents to conduct ecological studies.
Under the leadership of Mr. H. Athong, the first president of the Thanamir Village Students’ Union, Thanamir’s youth set up the TVSU Reserve.
Under the leadership of Mr. Y. Tsuseki, the ex-chairman, the village council took interest in furthering conservation efforts in Thanamir.
During his term, they liaised with many local and national leaders and also led the formation of the joint council for conservation with neighbouring villages.
The forest department formed the Fakim Anti-poaching squad in 2018, with two members from Fakim, Thanamir and Vongtsuvong each, under the leadership of Mr. T. Alemba Yimkhuing, Game Watcher at the Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary. Since then, they have been engaged in education programs for the villagers of these three contiguous forests and patrolling them. The Fakim Anti-Poaching Squad recently won the Sanctuary Wildlife Service Award in 2021.
More recently the team of seven researchers from WPSI, who represent different clans from within the village and were selected by the village council to give a fair change of representation and opportunity among residents. WPSI has one outsider researcher based in the region since late 2019, who is working with this team to gather ecological and ethnographic data alongside working on sharing their findings with the village council and student union.
Decisions for managing the TVSU Reserve are made by the TVSU. The students’ union is made up of executives (residing citizens of Thanamir) and officials (recently graduated or currently enrolled students who are citizens of Thanamir).
The WL-CCA is governed by the Thanamir Village Council with support and advice from the state forest department.
Meetings and activities take place throughout the year, however the annual general session at the end of the year is attended by everyone, including members of the union. Major decisions regarding forest management and conservation are discussed, contested and implemented during this time. The TVSU works in collaboration with the Thanamir Village Council (TVC) on many accounts, including forest related governance.
Societies in Nagaland reserve the right to practice customary laws, which differ among tribes and even different villages. However, at the village level the apex governing body is the village council. The village council is made up of gaon burrahs (village elders) and their elected council members, led by the elected council chairman. Historically, women have been excluded from decision making and hold no place in the village council in most Naga societies.
The Yimkhiung Akherü Arihako (YAA) is the apex Yimkhiung students’ union. In 2006 and 2007 they instituted two acts to ban the hunting of rare and endangered species to be enacted in all Yimkhiung occupied villages and jurisdictions.
1) TVSU Reserve- CCA (100ha)
1973: Hunting and extraction of all kinds are banned in the TVSU Reserve. Violations are dealt with by imposing a fine of Rs. 25. Until 2016, residents were allowed to collect fallen NTFP and firewood.
2016: A new rule was imposed banning the collection of everything, including fallen firewood. A fine of Rs. 5,000 is imposed for violating the rules.
2019: Resolution no. 29 states that individuals found with a chainsaw in the reserve will be levied a fine of Rs. 1,500 and their goods will be seized.
2) WL-CCA (300ha)
2011-12 to 2017: Extraction of all kinds are prohibited in the CCA.
3) Thanamir Community forest (~6500ha):
2014: To curb overhunting in their forests, the TVSU instituted a multi-part hunting ban in Thanamir’s community forest. a) one side of the forest (with the centre ridge used as a divider) where hunting is banned for 5 months each year from April- September; and b) the other side of the forest (bordering the Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary and TVSU reserve where hunting is permitted through the year (except for rare and endangered species listed by YAA).
2019: Resolution no. 25 states that extraction of Gingseng species and other medicinal plants within Thanamir’s jurisdiction is prohibited, punishable with a fine of Rs. 5,000.
2022: After discussing and debating the possibility of imposing a 1 year or 5 year hunting ban in the entire community forest, a new resolution was instituted to open one side of the forest (where the WL-CCA lies) for hunting throughout the year and have a total ban on hunting on the other side (adjoining the TVSU Reserve-CCA and Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary, a state protected area).
4) YAA: Rule no. 7 (Act 2006 and 2007) states the prohibition on hunting and collecting rare and endangered species such as the tiger, sambar deer, tragopan, black bear, gaur, hoolock gibbon and pangolins. Defaulters will be fined Rs. 50,000 by the YAA. All villages under Yimkhiung jurisdiction are required to abide by these rules and report any violations.
TVSU Reserve-CCA (100ha): This is a complete no-take area. This has been a permanent practice since 1973.
WL-CCA (300ha): This was a no take area from 2012-2017.
|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||Community Owned|
|Other Recognised Status||Key Biodiversity Area, Important Bird Area, Biodiversity Hotspot, Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary and Saramati Area KBA and IBA; Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot|
Article 371 (A) of the Indian Constitution confers that no act of Parliament shall apply to the State of Nagaland in respect of the religious or social practices of the Nagas, its customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law and ownership and transfer of land and its resources. This makes local communities in Nagaland the de facto owner of their community forests, unless otherwise stated.
|Impact on Livelihoods and Subsistence||Grazing, Firewood, Non-timber forest produce, Timber, Fish|
|Social Impacts||Community empowerment, Assured land ownership or access, Mitigation of external threat|
|Ecological Impact||Natural habitat preservation, Good diversity and population of wildlife, Improved/sustained ecological services|
|Internal Threats and Challenges||Lack of resources and pressures of poverty, Over-harvesting from within the community, Changing socio-cultural practices and aspirations|
|External Threats and Challenges||Climate change impacts|
Funds provided by the government for the establishment of the WL-CCA have provided residents with economic benefits (an equal sum of money was divided among all households from the funds received). Further, a watch-tower was built in the forest for patrolling.
Over the past 7 years, residents of Thanamir have prioritised research and conservation activities in their community forest, including the two CCAs. They have collaborated with outside NGOs to conduct studies on mammal and bird diversity and populations to get a data driven understanding of the population’s health. Apart from research, these collaborations have brought in part time employment, skill development and exposure for residents involved in the projects. This research has documented, for the first time using camera-trap evidence, multiple mammal species in the community forest. Additionally, high elevation records of clouded leopards (listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN) were documented from Thanamir. These findings were widely reported in local, national and international media.
Residents believe the TVSU Reserve-CCA has a flourishing population of birds, which has been facilitated by protecting this area.
Conservation in Thanamir has been supported by numerous factors. Primarily, the foresight of students and leaders allowed them to negotiate with citizens the reservation of multiple regions in their community forest for conservation over the years. Next, constantly revising the rules and regulations, based on residents’ needs allowed conservation initiates to sustain for many decades.
Rules and regulations have played a key role in ensuring conservation. TVSU officials believe the administration system set in since the beginning has allowed for this CCA to flourish for nearly 5 decades. Lastly, support from both the government (in the form of funds) and NGOs (in the form of projects and other material support) has facilitated the residents’ conservation goals.
Going forward in their conservation efforts and projects, residents state the need for financial and livelihood support. They also want more training and capacity building to conduct research and implement conservation projects, led by residents themselves.
Residents are interested in liaising with governments and NGOs to establish long term support to provide employment and funds to carry out their conservation plans. They want to build a research and education centre to host outside researchers and conduct nature education programs in Thanamir.
The Thanamir Village Council and Students Union have been instituting ad-hoc resolutions for conservation. However, going forwards, they are keen on continuing to collaborate with outside NGOs and government organisations to conduct research on the local biodiversity and develop conservation plans that prioritise both ecological health and community well-being.
After findings from their on-going collaborative research are analysed, they plan on co-developing conservation plans, with a focus on hunting regimes, driven by this data.
The village is also in the process of constructing a new tourist complex, to host tourists who come to summit Mt. Saramati and attend the annual apple festival. Since a team of researchers from the village are trained in bird identification and data collection, they are keen on promoting bird tourism in the village, especially with the TVSU Reserve serving as an accessible birding spot. Officials from the TVSU are interested in developing a bird sanctuary in the reserve as well.
|Data Source||By community member/s|
|Year of Study||2022|