Forest Governance & FRA

Meeting of Community Organisation on Forest Right Act

Forestland cultivation and forest products like Sal and Siali leaf, Mahua, tubers, honey etc. constitute one of the primary sources of livelihoods for Tribal and agrarian communities inhibiting the areas of our intervention in Nayagarh, Kandhamal and Rayagada District. Forests not only provide them critical source of livelihoods but also forms the basis of their social and cultural identity. The customary practices and traditions revolve around forests and they play a significant role in protection and management of these fast depleting resources in 70% of the villages. However, various systems of forest governance ranging from colonial system to present one failed to acknowledge the customary rights of local communities over forests leading to insecurity of tenure and continuous contestations for rights. The enactment of the Forest Rights Act in 2006 with its focus on vesting individual and community forest rights on forestland to tribal and forest dwelling communities raised the possibilities of minimizing the perpetual disputes relating to forest governance.

Raising issues before Collector in a workshop on Community Rights & Community Forest Resources under Forest Right Act at Rayagada

NIRMAN, with its support for participatory forest governance, made use of the opportunity provided by the progressive legislation of FRA and initiated processes for strengthening of local institutions like Palli Sabha, community organization like “Nagabali Upatyaka Bikash Manch” and settlement of ownership rights on forestland and community forest resource. Our emphasis on legal right over forestland prompted us to mobilize communities for filing claims under FRA for title on customarily used forestland and community forest resources. A model community claim has been developed in Murkakana village of Kalyansingpur block in Rayagada district of Odisha and a model booklet has been published as resource guide for govt. officials, civil society groups and other activists involved in FRA process. Till date, 347 tribal households has received titles over customarily used forest land in Rayagada, Kandhamal and Nayagarh districts. Through convergence, 79 Adivasi households received housing grant titled Indiara Awas Yojana” in Rayagada district. One of the significant accomplishment is 69 villages in Rayagada district have received community rights including community forest resources covering an approximate areas of 10080 acres and another 13 villages in Kandhamal district has received community rights and community forest resources covering an approximate area of 2600 acres.

Poduchuan Villagers showing the land titles received under
Forest Right Act

After the recognition of CFR rights, NIRMAN has facilitated forest management plan in 2 villages (Poduchuan and Karlakana in Rayagada district) involving all stakeholders. The forest management plan reflects existing management practices of communities, livelihood dependency, convergence with other programs etc. NIRMAN is in the process of facilitating forest management plan for remaining villages. The facilitation of community rights is a challenging and wonderful experience and there is a good learning from the entire process. To know more about this, please read about NIRMAN Approach, Process and Learning on FRA

Nirman- Approach Process & Learning
Report of the Workshop on Sustainable Management of Community Forest Resources under Forest Right Act, 2006