‘Satoyama’ helps management, conflict reduction in Odisha’s Badrama sanctuary
Accordingly, they have been enabled to practice backyard gardening, fishing, mushroom farming for nutritional supplementation as well as income generation.
BHUBANESWAR: With growing man-animal conflict caused by anthropogenic pressure emerging as a major challenge, ‘Satoyama’, an alternative approach to forest management, is helping Bamra Wildlife Division in Odisha protect the Badrama Wildlife Sanctuary through community participation.
The Japanese model, which considers human influence as an essential aspect of the local ecosystem, has not only enabled communities in the surroundings of Badrama sanctuary to live within the ecosystem without adding any burden but also promoted the peaceful coexistence of humans and wildlife in the protected site. Badrama is part of the critical Sambalpur elephant reserve.
Under the initiative, the forest department involved the nearby forest communities in protection activities and undertook measures to enable them to identify activities they could take up in their villages. Accordingly, they have been enabled to practice backyard gardening, fishing, and mushroom farming for nutritional supplementation as well as income generation.
An extensive man-animal interface led to the identification and selection of the area, where the villages are interspersed within the sanctuary, for implementation of the initiative currently in practice in Japan and a few other countries.
The initiative was launched in Bamra Wildlife Division five years back on a pilot basis under the Odisha Forestry Sector Development Project (OFSDP)-Phase II for forest conservation and scientific management of biodiversity with inputs on the development of livelihood initiatives.
“When we talk about sanctuaries and protected areas, we currently have two alternatives - to resettle the communities or to engage them in eco-tourism activities for income generation. These, however, are not suitable alternatives for every forest or protected area. Keeping this in mind, the Satoyama model was launched in Bamra as the third alternative approach for protected area (PA) management,” said PCCF (Projects) and OFSDP project director Meeta Biswal.
The idea was to reduce the communities’ dependence on forests, a major cause of conflict with the wildlife and it has worked. “We are also looking for other protected areas in the state where this success could be replicated,” Biswal said.
After the preliminary survey, the Satoyama model was initially launched in Nunvet village through the formation of an eco-development committee (EDC). Gradually the experiment was scaled up and now 10 EDCs have been formed within a 20 km radius of the Badrama range, said Samir Sahu, divisional forest officer of Bamra Wildlife Division.
The EDCs, groups involving community members of small villages, under the initiative, have helped forest officials remove invasive weeds in around 160 hectares of forest area and plantation of 4,000 bamboo seedlings. Besides, they also helped in the creation of a water body for use by wild animals.
Community participation and awareness among the EDCs has also led to the creation and maintenance of a fireline of around 110 km. There has been no fire incidence in forests guarded in the EDC jurisdiction for the last three years, he said.
The forest department, on the other hand, helped them in cultivating 10 types of seasonal vegetables. It also supported them in the sale of nearly three quintals of spine gourd at `100 per kg. The villagers, according to the DFO, have also been supported in taking up farming of indigenous paddy varieties on 240 acres and aromatic paddy cultivation on another 75 acres.
To protect the crop from elephant depredation, honey bee cultivation has also been facilitated. The villagers and EDC members are also into fish production. Forest officials say a nursery and medicinal garden has been created at Podadihi EDC with 100 varieties in the sanctuary area, while a biodiversity register is also under preparation involving EDC members, local vaidyas, and resource persons to protect the indigenous flora and fauna.
“With these measures, Satoyama initiative has not only helped in additional income to the people living inside the protected area but also has changed the way of life to ‘live in harmony with nature’,” the DFO said.