Conservation of Natural Resources and Securing Livelihood by the Sikaribari Biodiversity Management Committee (BMC), Tripura
The Sikaribari village in the Dhalai district in the North-Eastern state of Tripura is spread across 2050 hectares with 319 households, mainly comprising tribal population. It is surrounded by undulating and hilly terrain covered with forests, interspersed with water streams (chhara), rivers and fertile valleys. Agriculture is one of the major sources of livelihood for the community, since the district comprises fertile land, conducive climate, along with adequate and well spread rainfall.
Need for the Initiative
Until a few decades ago, the village was surrounded by thick forests with a rich repository of floral and faunal diversity. However, due to illicit felling of trees, encroachment on forest land for rubber cultivation and Jhum cultivation, unsustainable collection of Minor Forest Produce (MFP), and rampant hunting activities, the forests experienced a gradual decrease in its density and decline in species diversity along with extinction of a few local species. The lack of alternate livelihood opportunities amplified the dependence of the community, on the forest resources.
Conservation Initiatives and Impacts
In order to conserve the local biological resources in the region, while securing livelihoods for the local communities, and in accordance with the mandates of the Biodiversity Act 2002, the Sikaribari Biodiversity Management Committee (BMC) was constituted in 2014, with 8 members, including Sarpanch of the Panchayat as the chairperson and women representatives. The State Biodiversity Board (SBB) provided training to the BMC members on good practices in conservation and management of biodiversity. The BMC along with the local Joint Forest Management Committee, carries out regular patrolling across the forests to prevent encroachment, illicit felling, unsustainable harvesting of Minor Forest Produce and Jhum cultivation. In collaboration with Indo-German Development Co-operation project (IGDC), the BMC has been promoting a three tier Agriculture-Horticulture-Forestry plantation across 141.68 hectares of the forest (patta) land, allocated under Recognition of Forest Rights (ROFR) Act, 2006, resulting in sustainable use of the patta land. This ecosystem provides food, forage, bioenergy and medicines along with regulation of soil and water quality, carbon sequestration, support for biodiversity and cultural services. The Village Development Planning and Implementation Committee (VDPIC) constituted under the IGDC project has been supporting the successful implementation of development projects. The BMC has further commenced the plantation of endangered and endemic varieties of rice, vegetables and medicinal plants. In order to enhance livelihood opportunities, the BMC facilitated cultivation and sustainable collection of commercially important biological resources, such as, Broom grass (Thysanolaena maxima), Bamboo (Bambusa spp.), Gandhaki (Homalomena aromatica), etc, for which, the BMC has already signed two Access Benefit Sharing (ABS)agreements, based on prior informed consent and mutually agreed terms and conditions. Only a limited quantity of the biological resources may be extracted from the forests, at a time. The amount of collection fee along with percentage of profit sharing, are as per the ABS guidelines. The BMC, in collaboration with the JFMCs, has created water bodies across 5.149 hectares, for fish harvesting which now serves as one of the most important means of livelihood. 11 check dams have been built with the assistance from IGDC resulting in a larger quantity of fish being harvested. The technical support group comprises Animal Resource Development Department (ARDD) and Agriculture Department in Dhalai District, along with the Expert Committee of SBB. The conservation efforts have resulted in the return of the earlier locally extinct fauna such as wild pig (Sus scrofa), black-headed yellow bulbul (Rubigula melanicterus), jackal (Canis aureus) and the great hornbill (Buceros bicornis) in the region.
Recognition in India Biodiversity Awards
The Sikaribari BMC received special mention in the India Biodiversity Award under the category ‘Best Biodiversity Management Committee’ in 2018.Contact - A.K.Gupta Tel. +91825891830 Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org