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In every location that we are involved in, we continue to work towards improving the local stewardship of natural resources. Experience informed by theory validates that commons are best protected and governed by the local communities and that both ecological goals as well as livelihood concerns can find a sustainable match when tenure is clear and rights and responsibilities of the community are commonly understood. We would continue to expand to the adjacent villages and work towards improving the robustness of the village institutions in safeguarding natural resources. Building upon the years of efforts and depending upon the trajectory that each location is progressing on ecological, economic and social dimensions, the areas of strategic action are crafted to suit the niche specificity. Currently, we are specifically oriented towards:

  • Restoration of forest cover, common lands and private lands in an inter-related manner in ecologically degraded and economically deprived areas.
  • Improvement of grazing lands to offset the pressure on forests in livestock dominated production systems in dryland areas.
  • Integration of the management and governance of forests and other natural resources under the Panchayats to foster decentralisation of governance over natural resources.
  • Improving the economic condition of the poorer people within the communities to ward off the threat that their poverty poses to the viability of the local institutional arrangements to protect forests.
  • Capturing critical information on the bio-diversity, water and agriculture systems to highlight their critical value.
  • Accelerating measures to conserve the use of firewood and water through energy and water conservation.
We realise that working on contiguous patches of land across adjacent villages provides both an opportunity to work comprehensively at a scale that conservation action demands, as well as adds complexity in building a common vision amongst its constituencies. While on the one hand it is possible to conceive issues of recharging ground water or reviving forest cover only at such scale, it also brings in dimensions of some people conserving while others are exploiting. In such a situation we are working towards firstly improving the livelihood conditions of the poor so as to improve the robustness of the village institutions to safeguard the natural surroundings. Secondly, we are building information on the patterns of extraction and availability of natural resources by inviting local academia, research bodies and government departments to collate data and draw plans of action. In parallel, we are preparing the ground for future discussion on the more contentious issues by presently supporting conglomerates of village institutions on issues that bind them together. It remains to be seen whether the conglomerates would evolve into conscientious forums that determine conservation action and carry the conviction to its implementation.
 

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