|Number of households||80|
|Number of people||330|
The village Gambharikhola is a non-tribal village situated at a distance of about 18 kms from the block headquarters Ranpur and about 2.5 kms from the G.P. headquarters. The village is surrounded by Surkapalli village on the North; Kasanda, Damodarpur villages and part of Sulia Reserve Forest to the west, Daluajhar stream to the South and village Kochiapalli to the East. Barpalli and Gambharikhola are twin villages and together they have constituted the Forest Protection Committee.
The village is about 200 years old and there are 72 families belonging to Khandayat Caste (OBC), and 8 families belonging to the Scheduled Caste. Agriculture is the mainstay of the village communities. Apart from that people are engaged in government services, private services, trading and other businesses. However, they exhibit secondary dependence on the forests in different ways and different degrees. Almost all the families of the village belong to the land-owning class excepting four families who are landless. The landless families earn their livelihood by working as agricultural labourers and construction labourers. Among the land-owning families, the average land holding is as less as about 1.5 acres. Maximum landholding in the village is three acres possessed by a few families only. Eight to ten families own about 25 decimals each. Agriculture is clearly the main occupation of the people of the village. The agriculture in the village is subsistence based, paddy being the main crop, and hence whatever harvest is there goes to domestic consumption only which sustains for 6 to 9 months for families having average land holding. Only a limited number of families, who have access to some source of irrigation, grow vegetables in their lands. Some farmers grow sugarcane which is vulnerable to periodic depredation and damage by elephants and wild boars.
|Origin||New initiative by community|
|Year of Formation||-|
The forests surrounding the village were, once upon a time, very dense and deep and full of endemic vegetation of deciduous nature. The density of the forest fostered range of wildlife ranging from the minor herbivores to elephants. The forest was full of endemic NTFP yielding species and the local people were able to meet varieties of their demands from the forests. The forest degradation started during the early seventies due to expansion of habitats, markets and commercial activities in and around the area. The crops cultivated in the fields were frequently damaged by the elephants leaving the people struggling through food insecurity. Thus, villagers had a higher degree of dependence on forests back then as compared to today. Due to frequent crop raiding by elephants and other herbivores, the poor people suffered the most. To eke out a living, the marginalized people had to sometimes depend on cutting and selling of fuelwood in the local market. This contributed to degradation of the forests, among other allied factors. Despite the damage to the crops done by elephants and other wild animals, the people bear no grudge towards them. Rather they believe that the harvest would be richer in the subsequent year if the crop is damaged by elephants in a particular year. By and large, Kharif agriculture is regular in the village. Till recently, there was no irrigation facility for the agricultural lands, whatsoever. Ground water is not uniformly available in all parts of the village. The valley portion can support bore wells, but these are not successful in the relatively higher lands. Only recently, four bore wells have been sunk in one part of the valley. Since the village is surrounded by low hills with vegetation, the soil appears to be fertile. During the 1980s the communities realized that the forest is degrading fast because of indiscriminate exploitations. The situation instigated the community members to come together and form a forest protection committee in order to halt further degradation and facilitate natural regeneration and growth of forests. In fact, the elderly people took the initiative to form the committee. There are two types of forests to be protected and managed by the villagers: the reserve forest and the village forest. The reserve forest is guarded by the people of both the villages through a roster system. The area of the reserve forest is about 120 hectares. It was touching the boundary of both the villages and both were having reasonable dependency on the said patch. Hence the people of Gambharikhola and Barapalli villages have been protecting the forest as a joint initiative between two villages, since decades as on now.
1) Informally, the villagers have been protecting their village forest since 1960s to ensure supply of their basic needs
2) Forest protection committee formed in the 1980s
Primarily, it was the degradation of forests and its impact on the local communities around 1980s that led the people towards conservation.
|Collective of CCAs||Yes|
|Decision Making Body||Others → Forest protection committee|
|Rules and Regulations||Informal|
|Community activities through the year||-|
Representatives to the FPC in Gambharikhola and Barapalli regularly attend the cluster level and block level federation committee meetings. The meetings of the block level federation are held twice in a month; a meeting of the women representatives on 18th of every month; and a General Meeting of the federation with both men and women representatives of forest protection committee is held separately.
In Gambharikhola and Barpalli villages, the initiative to protect the local forest started much before the joint forest management initiative of the State government was launched. The village forest committee is also member of the block level federation committee. Youth Committee: The village has a youth club with 25 active members who have adequate voluntary zeal for allround development of the village. 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. There are no women representatives in the committee. The traditional web of relationship, especially the avoidance relationship among kin members, comes on the way of women representation in the informal committee. The Gram panchayat office, Block office, Forest range office, Tehsil, Police station, Financial institutions, Forest federations and networks, and NGOs like Vasundhara are other external institutions with which the villagers of Gambharikhola and Barapalli have direct and indirect interactions. Vasundhara is the only NGO who is actively working in the area and has fair interaction with Gambharikhola, although largely, on forest matters. It facilitates their processes in the direction of forest protection and management. The villagers appreciate participation of Vasundhara in helping them out for filing their claims for CFR entitlement and for being with them in addressing issues over forest, redressal through forest federations. The villagers also remember Vasundhara that acted as the intermediate when the villagers of Gambharikhola were having disputes with forest department, as the latter had cleared some patches of forests for raising commercial plantations. Acting on behalf of the communities Vasundhara advocated for plantation of only endemic species which was finally agreed by the forest department. Similarly, the villagers hold a very complementary relationship with the forest federation at the block level.
DECISION MAKING SYSTEMS
i) A Forest Protection Committee has been constituted that facilitates democratic decision making regarding forest protection activities. It is the oldest informal and inclusive institution in the village. It is a joint committee comprising representatives from both Gambharikhola and Barapalli. The executive committee comprise of 11 members out of which 7 members are from Gambharikhola and 4 members are from Barapalli. While the position of President of the committee is held by representative from Gambharikhola, the position of Secretary is held by representative of Barapalli. All the members to the office of Executive body have been selected by consensus. There are no women representatives in the committee. The traditional web of relationship, especially the avoidance relationship among kin members, comes on the way of women representation in the informal committee. The committee does not sit regularly, but there has never been a problem in convening the meeting at a very short notice when any such matter arises. Last year 4-5 such meetings were convened where minor issues and matters pertaining to common interest were discussed. The forest protection committee has own set of norms and rules governing the protection of the forest and use of forest resources equitably and sustainably. These rules and norms evolved over a period of time have stabilized. The committee reinforces the rule system as has been laid down for forest protection. They decide the amount of penalty and punishment against any offence related to forests.
ii) Forest rights committee:- This is a formal committee set up under provisions contained in the Schedulted Tribes and Other traditional Forest Dwellers (recognition of Rights) Act, 2006. 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 Gambharikhola and Barapalli joint committee has 14 members selected by consensus in respective villages. Out of the 14 members there are 4 women and 10 men. 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.
Rules and regulations governing forest use and management has been there in the village since last two and half decades. The rule system is informal but shared commonly, ratified and adhered. The forest protection committee which is common to both the villages has a President, Vice-president, Secretary and eight more members. There are two women members in the committee. The forest protection committee does not have a dedicated fund or bank account. Funds (if any) are deposited in the village fund which is known as ‘Kotha Fund’. The members decided to hold meetings of the committee once every month, but the same is not happening regularly and realistically. However, the committee convenes meetings when any important decision is to be taken or any issue is to be resolved. In most cases the subject of meeting is more about rewards and punishments. The committee mainly decides who will get a reward or on whom a penalty will be imposed. Reward is given to someone who detects a forest offence and penalty is imposed on a person who commits an offence. The rewards and punishment rules strengthens the cause of conservation. The rule system is inclusive and is by and large applicable to conserve the ecosystem, biodiversity and wildlife. Since the villagers extract manifold benefits from the forests, they are self-driven for ensuring conservation. Conflicts have remained to the minimum on forest matters. There are reasons why there are limited conflicts with lesser gravity. On one hand the forest protection rules are strictly adhered, the benefit sharing is equitable, the caste council maintains supremacy in Gambharikhola while similar institution reigns in Barapalli. Despite that conflicts sometimes appear which are not of serious nature. There happen inter-personal, intra-familial, inter-personal and inter-familial conflicts at village level. But in most cases they are resolved among the parties in conflict and does not need a conflict resolution process involving the whole village. On the other hand, the systems and procedures at the FPC level, for example, when the committee sits to offer rewards and assign punishments, help keeping conflicts to the minimum. However, in past there were some conflicts between villages over boundaries and Common pool resources. For example, about 8 years ago, the people of Damodarpur village were doing excavation of a tank almost on boundary of the village. The same boundary is shared between Gambharikhola and Damodarpur. The villagers in Gambharikhola objected to it as a significant portion of the pond was coming under the village area of their village. A small conflicting situation appeared which was resolved through discussions between the leaders of both the villages. There is also a principle of care and share within the Gambharikhola village. One remarkable habit of the villagers of Damodarpur is that they preserve traditional seeds in crops and vegetables. Families within the village and villages in the neighborhood also borrow and share the seeds. This has also contributed to sort of bonding relations among families and between villages. The openness and complementarity in exchange of goods and services is one of the important factors for little or least conflicts in the village. However, there is a conflict resolution mechanism in place. In case of any reported conflict, the President of village committee convenes a meeting which is participated by parties in conflict and also other villagers. The elder members in the village usually take decisions and the youth club apparently has no role in it. The youth club respects the decisions taken by senior people and if they have any say on any matter, they do so by respectfully taking permission of the elders and leaders.
MANAGEMENT AND RESOURCE USE
The village has some common pool resources such as a mango tope (bagayat), grazing land (gochar) and a village forest (gramya jungle). The fruits from the mango tope are equitably shared by the entire village. In fact, those are distributed among all the households. There are four water tanks in the village. The Kayan Pokhari situated to the south of the village, of the size of about one acre is owned by the Gram Panchayat. The villagers take it on lease on an annual basis for a lease value, which for the last year was fixed at a lease amount of Rs. 2600/-. Though the GP is supposed to lease out the tank to the highest bidder, in reality the villagers have been asserting their right over the water body. Pisciculture is done in the tank, but the harvested fish is not marketed, it is distributed among all the households. In addition to Kayan Pokhari, there is Adia Bandh measuring about two and half acres situated on the eastern side of the village, Gahira Pokhari measuring about 0.5 acre, and a recently dug out Godi Bandh situated to the north of village. Excepting Godibandha, all other ponds are used for pisciculture. The village Gochar is partially encroached by about 18 families since many years. The grazing land in the forest fringe is also partially encroached by about 45 families since last many years. However, no serious conflict or such situations have ever arisen over the encroachment matters. Apparently, there have been no conflicts over the common lands in the village. Since agricultural land in the village is not enough to sustain the livelihood requirements of the population of the village, people opt to migrate out in search of income. Over the years it has become kind of regular migration. Traditionally young people from the village migrated to the tile factories of Sultanpur district of U.P. Subsequently the youth migrated to Surat in Gujarat to earn their livelihood as textile workers.
|Legal Status||Forest Area under IFA → Reserve 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, Community Owned|
|Other Recognised Status||-|
Over the last many years, villagers have been organized under the umbrella of forest protection committee. Hence, they have good awareness of the purpose for which they have been conserving forests. Thus, the peoples’ attitude towards the rule systems set at Forest protection committee level is quite positive. However, their awareness on forest policies and law is very relative. The office bearers of the forest protection committee have some awareness of forest policy and law. There seem to be common awareness on Forest Rights Act
|Impact on Livelihoods and Subsistence||Non-timber forest produce|
|Internal Threats and Challenges||Reduced awareness about biodiversity and its value|
|External Threats and Challenges||-|
The conservation efforts have led to bringing back the endemic diversity that was lost at some point of time. Additionally, plantations and gap filling have contributed to restoration of secondary forests that look like primary forests now. People of Gambharikhola village get their requirement of firewood from the forest. They also get timber for house construction and agricultural implements. The forest is now well stocked with NTFPs like Harida, Bahada, Amla, Jhumpuri, Beta, Bela, Kankana, Katakal, Mahul, Jhuna, fruits, roots and tubers The forest is a rich source of medicinal plants, herbs and roots. The forest produces that had gone scarce at some point of time but are now abundantly available and being used for various purposes. There is a traditional institution of caste assembly of the Khandayats active in the village in which all the families participate. There is clearly a certain degree of solidarity among the people of the village due to the caste factor; but the solidarity with the ST families of Barapali village appeared to be primarily due to the shared responsibility of protecting the forest. Informal borrowings and lendings among families do exist. The monetary transactions are conducted without any documentation and the question of default in repayment has never arisen. Of particular importance is lending and borrowing of seeds for cultivation; when any individual farmer procures new variety of seeds he gladly shares it with other farmers.
The synergetic institutional processes at the village level, the involvement of SHGs, NGOs, Youth club and cooperation of external institution like forest department has by and large supported the conservation effort. The FPC and the federation of FPCs at the regional level are the key factors who supported conservation. Also, festivals like Giri Gobardhan Puja that is performed inside the forest especially in the event of failure of rains has contributed to solidarity among villagers for cause of conservation.
Nurturing the second line leadership for protecting and conserving the forests is the biggest challenge the villagers are facing. The increasing orientation of youth for cash economy from market, industry and service sectors is making them migrate outside. There has been no internal difference of opinion or inequity in distribution but the knowledge pertaining to valuing and utilizing the biodiversity is going down day by day as the younger generation are not engaging themselves much in biodiversity based livelihoods pursuits. Since agricultural land in the village is not enough to sustain the livelihood requirements of the population of the village, people opt to migrate out in search of income. Over the years it has become kind of regular migration. Traditionally young people from the village migrated to the tile factories of Sultanpur district of U.P. Subsequently the youth migrated to Surat in Gujarat to earn their livelihood as textile workers. Migration to Kerala is the most recent trend. By working in industrial sectors the youth earn to a standard and they remit money to their families in the village for sustaining their livelihood requirements. However, with the increasing out migration, apprehensions arise, in future the agriculture in the village may become neglected.
Communities of all villages are hopeful to improve biodiversity of the forest in future, to work towards market linking of forest produces and generate work for youth. The SHGs are interested to take up forest product based enterprises in coming days.