Nestled in the bio-rich area in Dhanora taluka of Gadchiroli district, Chicholi BMC represents the three villages under the Chicholi Gram Panchayat - Chicholi, Waghbhumi, and Jevalvahi. This Naxalite-hit region of Maharashtra is also the permanent abode of the Gonds, Madia, Pradhan, and Kolam tribes. Their traditional knowledge on the biodiversity of cultivars and medicinal plants is extremely rich and has been embedded in their spiritual values since many generations. Focus has been on the use of indigenous plant and animal species. What makes this BMC stand out even more is its composition - all-women! Initiatives to document and conserve biological resources, regulate the trade of bio-resources, and tackle unsustainable harvest practices have been carried out successfully with the active involvement of the community and Cranes NGO team. This makes the BMC an excellent example of complementarity between SDG 5 (women empowerment) and SDG 15 (Life on Land).

Need for the Initiative

To address the issue of lack of awareness and necessity of their initiatives, the BMC took advantage of the community celebrations, especially festive occasions, as opportunities by the villagers to conduct surveys for identification of bio-resources in groups. A system of patrolling to guard the forest as well as forest fines were introduced to tackle poachers and illegal trade. Rules and regulations were constituted to address unsustainable harvest practices and regulate the trade of bio-resources. Seed funding has been provided by the Maharashtra SBB to initiate PBR activities. A communication channel was developed among BMC, Village Development Committees, and Maharashtra SBB for transparency in trade negotiations for the stakeholders involved.

Conservation Initiatives and Impacts

The PBR of Chicholi BMC has identified 534 floral species and 127 faunal species so far, including 58 species of useful plants. The fact that the region still suffers from Naxalite-activities does not deter the villagers, who on their part, have shown their full support to the BMC and NGO Cranes. The village citizens, especially the womenfolk, are more concerned about the sustainable utilization of bio-resources. Festive occasions are used as opportunities by the villagers to conduct surveys for identification of bio-resources in groups. Approximately, 70 surveys were conducted to aid in this endeavour. NGO Cranes trains the BMC members. The training programs conducted have ensured that the trade going on is sustainable and that the carrying capacity of the proposed traded species is not breached. Before any trade is initiated by the Village Development Committee, prior consent is sought This way, transparency in all trade negotiations for the stakeholders involved was attained. Also, Chicholi enjoys the distinction of being the pioneering village in Maharashtra to receive a levy fee for the sale of bio-resources. Early Access and Benefit Sharing attempts have been recently attempted for an important medicinal species known as ‘Podora’. Awareness programs by BMC and NGO Cranes on the importance of use of indigenous species of flora and fauna, the BD Act, ABS mechanism, and importance of PBRs have ensured a well-aware citizenry. The tribal village uses only the local traditional cultivars. Locals have shunned chemical pesticides and fertilizers for self-prepared organic compost for better yields. No illegal activities like tree-felling or poaching are permissible in the jurisdiction of BMC. The prohibition of using bark or roots of plants for trade is a conservation measure to prevent the loss of certain plants from the ecosystem. To curb the threats to biodiversity and promote sustainable and legal trade of bio-resources, a fine of INR 500 is levied on those engaging in illegal activities. The villagers themselves carry out patrolling to prevent such infringements. Conservation of Indigenous Plant species:
• BMC has planted 200 saplings (indigenous species) of “Tamarindus indica” and has plans to plant other tradeable species sustainably, in view of their market demand.
• No trade is carried out more than 50 per cent of its total availability.
• Locals use only indigenous species of crop varieties of rice, wheat, maize, cereals, pulses, vegetables and fruits.
• Each household has a patch of vegetables often related to wild cultivars.
• No trade of barks and roots of species is permitted.
• BMC is planning to develop a seed bank for preserving the local and endangered plant species for future. Conservation of Indigenous Domestic Animal Species:
• Locals use only the indigenous domestic animal species of cow, buffalo, bull, goat, hens, ducks, and fishes.

Recognition in india biodiversity awards-