Community Forest Governance in Chhota Bhangal – Management Plan & Way Forward
The Executive Committee of the Chhota Bhangal Maha Gram Sabha is supporting the efforts of village communities in preparing the management plans, with external support from Kisan sabha and members of the ISB team.
Chhota Bhangal Maha Gram Sabha is a federation of 28 villages in Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh. Chhota Bhangal is the catchment area of the Uhl and Lambadag rivers populated by 28 village communities. The communities received Community Forest Resource titles in 2020 and are drafting a management plan for sustainable extraction of Seasonal Forest Products. This includes regulations for resource extraction, a system for collecting data on Seasonal Forest Products extracted from the forests, penalties for breaking rules, and a strategy for aggregation, value addition and market linkage for selected Seasonal Forest Products.
Rajgundha and Chherna, two villages in Uhl and Lambadag valleys respectively, have already completed the process of data collection. These are now preparing to hold gram sabha consultations to finalize the management plan for their CFR area. The process started with collecting data from every household on the variety and quantity of Seasonal Forest Products collected during 2020 and 2021. This allowed the estimation of the scale of extraction as well as establish the trends over time. At the same time, small-group meetings were held to identify areas in the high-altitude pastures where different species were found and collected. This exercise provided the data to produce a map of the distribution of different medicinal herbs in the CFR areas of these two villages. Further community meetings helped to verify the data collected from households and ensured that the estimates of total extraction are reasonably accurate for the purpose of management planning.
In the final stage, the two communities are now discussing different proposals for regulating and monitoring the extraction of Seasonal Forest Products. The design of a data collection system is a priority, given that snows will start to melt near villages in mid-March and collection of the first Forest Product of the season – the lucrative Guchhi or Morel mushroom – will start in early April. All communities in Chhota Bhangal are preparing to discuss and finalize their management plans by the end of March 2022, in order to be prepared for the start of collection season.
The Executive Committee of the Chhota Bhangal Maha Gram Sabha is supporting the efforts of village communities in preparing the management plans, with external support from Kisan sabha and members of the ISB team. Further, the CBMGS is planning to coordinate with respective state departments to channel financial resources under various schemes (MGNREGS, SRLM, Van Dhan Yojana) to enable aggregation of Seasonal Forest Products for creating economies of scale and value addition at the local level.