When it comes to tribals conserving biodiversity in forests, the common perception is that since they do not have any incentives, forest dwellers face a difficult choice between saving nature and starving or sacrificing the green cover to make ends meet.
However, at an event organized by the Andhra Pradesh Forest Academy, Dulapally on the sidelines of CoP-11, case studies presented by the Centre for Forest and Natural Resource Management Studies (CEFNARM) proved otherwise.
Turning Chenchu villagers residing in India’s largest tiger reserve, Nagarjuna Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR), into ‘tiger trackers’ has ensured a steady source of livelihood for them while keeping poachers at bay. “Nearly 24 villages are located in the core area of the reserve forest. Employment of the tribals as trackers has ensured a steady rise in the population of the wild cats from 2008 to 2010. And this is after adoption of the new survey methods, which does not include tiger cubs,” Dr. S.N Kukrety, who carried out the study in Pecheruvu village of NSTR, said. “There is a need for better investment in biodiversity for infrastructure instead of being seen as a project for conservation,” chairman of the national biodiversity authority Dr. Balakrishna Pisupati said.
Around 15 villages were selected for 25 case studies which focused on generating sustainable livelihoods in reserve forest areas and augmenting the process of conservation. “Andhra Pradesh is the only state which has a dedicated committee on wildlife and environment protection in the legislative Assembly. However, there is a need to take the information to the grass-roots level for creating awareness,” speaker of AP legislative Assembly Nadendla Manohar said.
Other case studies included the elimination slash and burn method of Podu cultivation in Paapi Hills and integrated mangrove fishery farming system in Yanadi communities among others.