Conservation of Forests by Joint Forest Management Committee (JFMC) in Old Jalukie Village, Nagaland
Old Jalukie is situated in the hills of Peren District, Nagaland in North-East India. Surrounded with verdant subtropical rainforests, the village falls within the watershed area of five rivers35 that flow through the region and make the soil extremely fertile. Endemic species of flora in the forests comprise Albizia, Lagerstroemia, Sterculia and Goalparensis, along with medicinal plants such as Paris polyphylla, Himalayan ginseng (Panax pseudoginseng), common yew (Taxus baccata) and climbing bamboo (Arthrostylidium). The area is the only natural forest in the vicinity where wild animals and birds seek shelter. The wildlife population comprises stags, barking deer, red serows, bears, wild boars, pangolins, porcupines, hoopoes, monkeys and wildcats.
Need for the Initiative
Old Jalukie is inhabited by the Zeliang Naga36. Owing to the area’s remote location, limited market access and limited livelihood opportunities, communities rely on forests and agriculture for sustenance. Jhum cultivation37 was the traditional livelihood practice in Old Jalukie. However, the increase in demand for land for Jhum led to fresh patches of forests being cut and burnt, with severe reduction in regeneration periods of fallow lands. Capture of animals such as slow loris, geckos, squirrels, birds, and monkeys for illegal wildlife trade also increased substantially. Eventually, the extensive logging operations during the late 1970s and 1980s resulting in a scarcity of local flora and fauna, triggered the conservation initiatives in the village forest.
Conservation Initiatives and Impacts
The conservation efforts commenced in 1986 as a result of a joint resolution between the Jalukie Pumling Nko, the traditional apex body of Old Jalukie, and the Village Council. The resolution declared a portion of their forests as a conservation area and imposed a total ban on Jhum, hunting and trapping wild animals, logging and unsustainable extraction of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) from within its territory. The Joint Forest Management Committee (JFMC)39, was constituted in 2002 to further the conservation initiatives through afforestation activities and the rescue of animals from illegal trade. In 2012, 3.7 sq.km of the forest land was formally declared as a Community Conserved Area (CCA) by Old Jalukie’s village council and the State Forest Department. The Village council decides on matters of penalties, audits, wages, the election of village representatives for JFMC’s executive body, and the demarcation of conservation areas. JFMC is responsible for CCA management and preparation of micro-plans, choice of species for plantations, setting conservation and financial targets and conducting awareness programmes. JFMC is headed by a president who is elected by the community, a member secretary who serves as a technical expert representing the forest department, a treasurer, representatives from the village council, youth and women. The resources generated by the institution include royalty from NTFP sales and fines which is distributed as wages amongst community workers. Varying degrees of penalties are imposed on offenders as per the customary law, and the revenue from offences and NTFP sales is deposited with the treasurer as common fund. Village council members and Gaonburhas (village chiefs) actively monitor the development and conservation works. Local youth have been employed for regular patrolling and monitoring activities in the CCA. As a result, considerable improvements can now be observed in the tree density and floral diversity in the area, especially with an increase in the occurrence of species such as Caryota urens, Juglans regia, Michelia champaca, and Schima wallichii. There is a considerable improvement in the soil and water quality leading to availability of water for consumption and irrigation. The JFMC has rescued several animals such as slow loris, geckos, squirrels, birds and monkeys, from illegal wildlife trade and reintroduced them into the forest. It also provides medical assistance to injured animals. As a result, a discernible rise has been observed in fauna population in the area. Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) connections have been provided to 43 households to reduce dependency on firewood, with JFMC bearing half of the refilling cost. Alternate livelihood activities have been initiated including livestock rearing and raising kitchen gardens. The sale of NTFPs and forest products, such as honey, fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and seeds also contribute to the household incomes. Encouraged by Old Jalukie, the neighbouring villages are also encouraged to replicate the conservation model.
Recognition in India Biodiversity Awards
Joint Forest Management Committee Old Jalukie Village won the India Biodiversity Award under the category ‘Co-management’ in 2014.Contact Rampaukai Mpom Tel. +91 7005885339, +91 9089779728 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org