Developing Forest management plans to build bamboo supply chains in Malkangiri, Odisha
The management plan of a forest and its seasonal forest products is an integral part of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) to ensure responsible and sustainable harvesting by forest-dependent communities. To spread awareness about Community Forest Rights among the forest communities that are currently unaware of the legalities of the Forest Rights Act, BIPP-ISB decided to conduct workshops. The workshops focused on creating awareness about the Act and the mandatory processes and documentation required to make a collective sale of seasonal forest products by the Gram Sabhas and Maha Gram Sabhas. A Gram Panchayat-level workshop was conducted along with a special women’s workshop at Telrai Gram Panchayat. Once the communities were aware of the requirements, Gram Sabha meetings were conducted to work on drafting the forest and seasonal forest products’ management plans.
We conducted another major workshop collaborating with ITDA (Integrated Tribal Development Agency) at Malkangiri in October 2022 to discuss bamboo management plans and facilitate collective sales to the marketplace (industry). More than 70 people participated in the workshop, along with the Forest Department (FD), the Forest Rights Committee (FRC) cell, the Sub-Divisional Level Committee (SDLC), 24 village leaders, and BILT Graphic Paper and Products Ltd. During the workshop, management plans were discussed, and we decided to work with GS to initiate the bamboo management plan.
In the meeting, everyone opined that abundant forest resources are available and that there is scope for business activity to sell Seasonal Forest Products (SFP). BIPP-ISB and members of the GS met with the Forest Department (FD) after the workshop to take their input before drafting the management plans for two pilot villages. We picked Jakalgudi first and Pedawada second for the pilot planning.
Bamboo inventory mapping is essential to developing its management plan. We conducted a GS meeting and invited volunteers to start the inventory mapping process. Twenty-five volunteers from each household in the GS worked for five days to conduct the bamboo inventory. We designed a color-coded system of white, yellow, and red to categorise the bamboo bushes based on their age, height, and quality. The volunteers, divided into 3–4 groups, walked the forest area, counting and color-coding the bamboo bushes. We classified bamboo forests based on the age, quality, and quantity of bamboo clumps into three parts: A, B, and C. The healthy and abundantly available bamboo areas were marked A. The areas with damaged and decayed bamboo were marked B, and the sparse and scattered areas of bamboo were marked C. We subdivided further into types 1, 2, and 3. Type 1 is bamboo with a height of more than 9 meters; type 2 is bamboo with a height between 6 and 9 meters; and type 3 is bamboo with a height of less than 6 meters. A similar process was followed in the 23 villages for inventory mapping.
We conducted a GS meeting with all the GS members and three FD staff in October 2022 to draft the management plans using the bamboo inventory. The plans were finalised through a voting system. We ensured that the women read out these plans, boosting their participation and paving the way to achieve a women-led enterprise model and their guaranteed participation. We consulted the bamboo management committees of Sailor and Kamalapadar for their input on the management plans based on their experience. By the end of the meeting, we had prepared a detailed management plan for bamboo harvesting.
We submitted the finalised management plans and resolution copies of the 24 GS under Telrai and Manyamkonda GPs to the Divisional Forest Officer of Malkangiri, the Assistant Collector of Odisha, the FRC, the Project Administrator of ITDA, the Chairman of SDLC, and the Sub-Collector of Malkangiri. We are working towards submitting the bamboo management plans for Pindikonda, Banjiguda, Polur, and Gunthabeda Gram Sabhas.
BIPP-ISB has requested the ITDA of Malkangiri provide financial support on behalf of the 24 GS to assist the villages in inventory mapping, record-keeping technology, and equipment for collective sale.