Malkangiri’s Milestone: Submission of Forest Management Plan by 24 Gram Sabhas
Recently, a first-of-its-kind community-led forest management plan was developed in Malkangiri, Odisha. This plan is crucial in building a forest economy, as it is created by and for communities to conduct the business of forest produce and ensure the sustainability of forest ecosystems. Forest-dependent communities took the first step toward participating legally in the sale of seasonal forest products by creating a forest management plan, which is mandated under Section 4(1)(e) of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, to ensure responsible and sustainable harvesting.
The development of this plan was preceded by a Gram Panchayat-level workshop at Telrai, which included a special women’s workshop for community awareness regarding Community Forest Resource Rights (CFRR) recognition and the forest economy. In October 2022, another major workshop was organized at Malkangiri by the ITDA in collaboration with the forest communities to discuss bamboo management plans and facilitate the collective sale to the marketplace (industry). Over 70 people participated in the workshop, including 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, the Gram Sabha members worked together to draft the forest and bamboo management plans, which were later discussed. On January 20, 2023, 24 Gram Sabhas in Malkangiri District submitted a bamboo management plan to the government office. They also submitted all the required documents, such as resolution copies of the 24 Gram Sabhas, with the approval of the Bamboo Management Committee, Forest Department, Revenue Inspector, Welfare Extension Officer, Office of the BDO, and Kalimela. This bamboo management plan provides details on inventory mapping of bamboo in each Gram Sabha, bamboo depot points, and settlement areas of Gram Sabha with bamboo storage areas of Gram Sabha. By submitting the bamboo management plan, the forest communities are provided the rights to harvest and protect their assigned forest land and further engage in bamboo trade at scale with industries like BILT Graphic Paper and Products Ltd.
To create awareness about CFRR among forest communities, BIPP-ISB continues to conduct workshops. These workshops focus on creating awareness about the Act, the mandatory processes, and documentation required to make a collective sale of seasonal forest products by the Gram Sabhas and Maha Gram Sabhas.