Traditional forest management systems have been recognised for title distribution for the first time in India
Twenty four villages in Odisha’s Nayagarh district together received 14 community rights (CR) and community forest resource rights (CFRR) titles on November 2, 2021. These titles were assigned to them under the the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (known as FRA), 2006 as well as the 2012 amendment.
FRA gives Gram Sabhas the “right to protect, regenerate, conserve or manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use”.
This is reportedly the first time that traditional management systems have been recognised for title distribution in the country. Another unique feature of the title distribution is that besides the scheduled tribes, it includes several villages inhabited by other traditional forest dwellers.
Nayagarh District Welfare Officer Dayanidhi Naik said:
This is also the first step towards the recognition of community-led ecological restoration, forest conservation, sustainable forest-based livelihoods and biodiversity conservation in the district.
The district has a history of fighting for forest protection — they rose against the British rulers several times to prevent exploitation of natural resources.
The 14 titles were given in the first phase and another 61 CR and CFRR would be distributed in the second phase of title distribution in the district, he added. “Increasing evidence across the globe pointed towards the fact that local communities managed, governed and protected forests better.”
The villages that received the titles are:
They are part of Surukabadi, Kulasara, Bajrakota and Balabhadrapur Gram Panchayats under Ranpur block of Nayagarh.
“We hope this event marks the way for a future course of action and accelerates the second phase of distribution,” said Arakhita Sahu, secretary of Maa Maninag Jungle Surakhsha Parishad (MMJSP) of Nayagarh.
MMJSP has been facilitating the claim-filing process since the FRA was enforced. It is present in 136 villages and aims at facilitating forest conservation and management among the forest-dependent villages in Ranpur block.
The district-level committee (DLC) had approved the claims of these 24 villages in 2018 but the distribution has been pending since then. The communities protecting and preserving the forests had been reportedly putting pressure on the administration to implement the decision for a long time. Finally, the titles were granted before the upcoming panchayat elections in Odisha.
Nayagarh comprises 1,695 villages, out of which 1,239 villages have the potential for CR and CFRR. So far 3,868 Individual Forest Rights (IFR), 32 CR and 28 CFR titles have been granted in the district since the FRA came into force.
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