Community Revolution - Eastern Mirror
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Community Revolution

By The Editorial Team Updated: Sep 06, 2016 12:00 am

It has been established very well that wildlife conservation efforts in Nagaland cannot succeed in the long term without the hands-on involvement of the local communities. The reason is very simple. The practice of rampant and unregulated hunting has seriously depleted wildlife population. Many of the hills that were once blanketed by thick forests have been reduced bald through deforestation. Even today timber extraction and coal mining continues to be major sources of income for many villages. This however has led to a rapid degradation of the virgin forests, particularly in privately owned forests.

Under the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972, Nagaland has declared four areas as protected: Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary, Intangki National Park, Rangapahar Wildlife Sanctuary and Puliebadze Wildlife Sanctuary. Statistics suggest that these four sanctuaries combine to cover only about 2.6 percent of the total geographical area of the state. On top of that, roughly 90 percent of the land in Nagaland is under community control. This has rendered the implementation of this Act rather very ineffective. In such a scenario, the only hope is in community conservation.

It was in the early 1980s that the student union of Lozaphuhu village in Phek district decided to conserve a 500 ha (5 sq km) patch of forest above the village. The idea was to protect key sources of water in the area. In 1990 the same organization declared another patch of forest below the main village as a wildlife reserve, with a total ban on hunting and other resource use. In 1988, the village council of Khonoma in Kohima district, declared 2000 ha (20 sq km) of forest and grassland area as the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary. Rules were formulated to strictly ban hunting of all species within the entire area of the village, to stop resource uses in the core area of the sanctuary, and to allow only a few benign uses in the buffer area.

Then they were followed by other Naga villages that include: Sendenyu, Tuophema, Chishlimi, Changtongya and Kongan, to name only a few. Again in 2004, the Chakhesang Public Organisation (CPO) comprising 80 villages in Phek district, resolved to stop indiscriminate forest fires and to ban hunting seasonally in their respective areas. Prior to this, 23 Chakhesang tribal villages had declared part of their land as strictly protected for wildlife. This series of events, unwittingly, marked the start of a quiet green revolution in the state.

And it was simply an act of extension of this quiet revolution when the Konyak Union recently announced a community diktat banning use of environmentally detrimental solutions and applied stuff. The motivation behind this new initiative was to help the people move towards a healthier and environmentally-conscious community lifestyle. As such, the organization has banned use of non-biodegradable polythene bags, bleaching powder and pesticides in Konyak area.

All these are testimonies that demonstrate how encouraging local communities to the concept of community conservation can create a win-win situation for all concerned. Surely, our Naga wildlife story is not only of that one which is soaked in blood. Our forests are more than just a killing field. Today, it is the centre of a quiet but remarkable revolution. Long live the revolution.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Sep 06, 2016 12:00:21 am
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