Conservation of Natural Resources by the Biodiversity Management Committee Hong Niitii, Arunachal Pradesh


he Hong Niitii village is situated in the Lower Subansiri district of Ziro Valley in the northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, one of the richest bio-geographical provinces of the Himalayan zone and a biodiversity hotspot, with vast array of floral and faunal diversity. Niitii is the home to the Apatani tribe, one of the major ethnic groups of eastern Himalayas. The village has a unique bowl-shaped topography, with vast paddy fields interspersed with settlements in the low-lying area. These are surrounded by hill ranges covered with dense sub-tropical and temperate forests, pine forests and bamboo forests. Numerous species of flora and fauna are found in this region which are traditionally used and conserved by the Apatani. The forests are categorized into private forests (individual and clan forests) and community forests, as per the traditional administrative regime. Certain sections of these forests have been demarcated as sacred groves. These forests are vital for the community’s sustenance as they provide them with timber and bamboo for construction of their traditional houses, fences, performing rituals, making utensils and furniture, handicrafts and herbs. The bamboo shoots are an essential part of their diet while culms and bamboo skins are split and used in basketry and fence-making. Further these forests prevent soil erosion and landslides in the region.

Need for the Initiative

However, the ecology of the region was under severe threat from rampant hunting of local fauna and felling of trees for timber for commercial purposes by few community members as well as outsiders, a few decades ago. Excessive dumping of the waste in the local water bodies had caused contamination of water and soil resources. Though the Apatanis have stringent customary laws in place for the conservation and management of their natural resources, they were unable to protect their resources from illegal and unsustainable extraction and pollution.

Conservation Initiatives and Impacts

The Biodiversity Management Committee of Hong Niitii was constituted in 2009, comprising a chairperson, secretary, treasurer and other members including representation from the Forest Department and women. The area of jurisdiction under the BMC is 22.5 The BMC responded to the existing challenges by instituting a strong monitoring system in order to check hunting activities and unsustainable harvesting of flora by local community members and outsiders. Regular patrolling is carried out by the BMC and community members and a record is maintained to keep a track of all available bio-resources in the area. If any bio-resource in the forests, becomes difficult to find or shows signs of stress, it is reported to the BMC, which in turn deems such a resource as ‘rare’ and restricts its extraction. A Community Conserved Area (CCA) spread across 0.55 (0.1kmX5.5km) has been declared by the BMC, upstream of river Sikhe-bo in 2011, under the GoI- UNDP Country Cooperation Framework (CCF II) project, for conservation of bio-resources comprising aquatic, aerial and terrestrial species, such as Megalaima Viridis, Macaca assamensis, Giremomys Lokiah, Castanopsis Indica, Orchids and variousmedicinal plants. The community collectively planted trees on the riverbanks to create bunds and with the help of BMC released several species of Schizothorax fish in the river during the Myoko and Murung festivities. The BMC has prohibited the use of fishing techniques which make use of chemicals, electric shocks or explosions. FRLHT and the State Medicinal Plant Board, with support from Chairperson of the Niitii BMC, Mr.Mudang Chayyang, Dr.Hui Tag from Rajiv Gandhi University and other members of the community, set up the Hake Tari Medicinal Plant Conservation Area (MPCA), across 2, in order to conserve the rare, endangered and threatened species. Extraction of biological resources from this area is forbidden and the area is strictly monitored by the BMC. A People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR) and a Bio-cultural Protocol (BCP) have also been prepared in accordance to the mandates of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and the Nagoya Protocol, in order to facilitate Access and Benefit Sharing in Niitii. The BCP and the ‘Nikung Dapo’, a compilation of the customary laws of the Apatani, have been annexed to the PBR. A sacred grove across 0.0124 has been declared in Niitii, which comprises 700 trees of various species including Michelia champaka, Rubia cordifolia, Solanum kurzii, wild grapes etc. These are protected by the Apatani customary laws. The BMC has prepared an inventory of the trees in these groves to guard them against any external threats. The CCA, scared groves and private and community forests provide myriad of ecological functions such as carbon storage, nutrient cycling, water and air purification, and maintenance of wildlife habitat. The Apatani in Niitii practice the unique paddy-pisciculture across approximately 4, for sustenance and livelihood. Community members ensure annual maintenance of irrigation channels and prevention of use of chemical inputs in the agricultural fields. BMC has held awareness campaigns to reinforce the customary practices and traditional values towards sustainable use of natural resources and its conservation. The BMC hopes to identify new genes for potential use in the coming years and explore modern technologies such as in vitro-conservation and cryopreservation for conservation of rare gene pools.

Recognition in India Biodiversity Awards

Biodiversity Management Committee, Niitii (Hong), received special mention in the India Biodiversity Awards (IBA) under the category ‘Best Biodiversity Management Committee’ in 2016.

Contact- Mudang Challyang Tel. +91-9436419854 Email:;