Community forests in Northeast face threat

Community forests in Northeast face threat

SHILLONG: Most community forests in Hill regions of Northeast India have been managed by traditional local institutions for centuries and most of them exist till date. Higher forest coverage on private and community land with respect to Government owned land highlight the former's success of methodology.

Such forms of forest are now facing a threat owing to human intervention in the form of poaching, timber smuggling and the likes. A panel discussion in this regard, aptly titled, 'Wildlife Conservation and Communities' was held by Hard News at Hotel Polo Towers .

With the amendment of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, started the concept of Community Forests. These forests even though privately owned are protected by law. G W Kharmujai, speaking on behalf of the Forest Department of Meghalaya said that community forests are scattered throughout the state and in separate districts.

Dr Preeti Gupta, associated with the Law Department of NEHU spoke about the National Tiger Conservation Authority and legal implications revolving poaching.

Highlighting the importance of people participation, she said "It is a symbiotic association and we need to ensure the survival of species so that the delicate balance of predator and prey is maintained".

Speaking about the legal issues in community participation, Gupta highlighted about conflict and confrontation between man and animal. Conflict management for communities who depend upon the forests and wildlife for non-commercial benefits was stressed upon.

Dr Abhijit Rabha, field director of Manas National Park recollected his efforts on bringing back the forest to live. Years of civil strive and poaching left Manas scarred beyond recognition. "Community participation was the only manner in which this could be sustained. So we formed a dedicated team of conservators comprising of foresters, erstwhile poachers and former militants," he added.

(TNT News)

Featured image(courtesy): Ashwin Kumar via www.flickr.com

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