Conservation of Forests and Securing Livelihoods in Narotichak Village, Maharashtra


Narotichak village of the Gadchiroli District in North-Eastern Maharashtra is situated in the Deccan peninsular biogeographic region and harbours dense tropical dry deciduous forests with rich biodiversity. It has 140 households which are dependent on these forests for their sustenance. Until the year 2005, the community did not have access to the forest resources. With the constitution of the Joint Forest Management Committee (JFMC) in the village in 2005, the conservation and management of 340 hectares of forest area, within the boundary of 5 km from the village, was entrusted upon the JFMC. With assistance from the Vidarbha Nature Conservancy Society (VNCS) , the communities applied for obtaining Community Forest Rights (CFR) over 754.29 hectares of the forest area in accordance with section 3(1) of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 and were subsequently granted with CFR titles for over 247 hectares of forests in the year 2011. In the process of checking land records, the communities identified 117 hectares of disputed forest land which had been under encroachment since 2009. The forest cover in these areas had thinned due to rampant logging. Thereafter, the community, with support from VNCS, successfully removed the encroachers from the area and implemented conservation strategies to rejuvenate the forests.

Conservation Initiatives and Impacts

The JFMC formulated strict regulations for sustainable use and management of forest resources, which are implemented with assistance from the forest department and VNCS. Over 1,000,000 species of Azadirachta indica, Millettia pinnata, Phyllanthus emblica, Annona reticulata, Tamarindus indica, Terminalia chebula, T. bellirica, Capparis decidua, Bombax ceiba, Sesamum indicum, Bamboo species, etc., have been planted across 340 hectares of forest area. The extraction of minor forest produce is regulated by demarcating boundaries and harvesting only 75% of forest resources, while 25% is left for regeneration. Forest area across 18 hectares has been declared as a ‘no-use zone’ and 42 check dams have been constructed to check soil erosion. Poaching and illicit felling of trees has been curtailed to a large extent by carrying out regular patrolling and imposing penalties on defaulters. Protocols have been set in place for grazing of livestock and managing forest fires. Biogas connections have been provided to the community to reduce dependence on fuel wood. The JFMC has augmented several livelihood opportunities through the sale of NTFPs, such as T. chebula, T. bellirica, Diospyros melanoxylon, etc., along with sale of handicraft products made of bamboo and resins. As per the assessments, a 40-60% increase in income has been recorded from the collection and sale for NTFPs. Construction of rainwater harvesting structures have resulted in improved water storage and increase in the yields of paddy. As a result of conservation activities, the 340 hectares of open forest under JFMC along with 247 hectares of forest under the CFR, have been converted into dense forests with varied fauna such as, leopard (Panthera pardus), tiger (Panthera tigris), sambar deer (Rusa unicolor), bear, wild boar (Sus scrofa), etc. These forests provide ecological services such as carbon storage, nutrient cycling, water and air purification. Several water bodies have been constructed across the forest to provide easy access to drinking water for wild animals. The floral diversity comprises species such as Asparagus racemosus, Chlorophytum borivilianum, Tectona grandis, Carthamus tinctorius, Buchanania lanzan, etc. Awareness campaigns have been organized regarding natural resource conservation and its sustainable use. The decision-making process for forest management is inclusive of the community members, with representation from each household. The Panchayat intends to institute a Biodiversity Management Committee, as mandated by the Biodiversity Act 2002, for effective conservation and management of its biodiversity.

Recognition in india biodiversity awards-

The Narotichak Gram Sabha, received special mention in the India Biodiversity Awards (IBA) under the category ‘Decentralized Governance’ in 2014

Contact:Dilip Gode Email:,