Collaboration for Community Forest Resource Rights Recognition in Jharkhand: An Operational Plan

The Initiative on Forest Economy (IoFE) has been piloted in Simdega district, Jharkhand, in partnership with the Government of Jharkhand. The initiative operates on three pillars: technology, market linkage, and Community Forest Rights (CFR). BIPP-ISB is collaborating with multiple government stakeholders at state, district, block and panchayat levels to operationalize the initiative. During the past few months, we have achieved several milestones across these three big pillars. 

Technology for optimising operations 

BIPP-ISB technology team developed an android built RatiFi mobile application to improve CFR claim filing process in Simdega district, Jharkhand. The application streamlines the claim generation process and incorporates a tracking mechanism for monitoring claim processing and approval. It facilitates uniformity, easy and efficient access to evidentiary documents, and rapid scalability. The android version of the app is available on the Google Play Store and is expected to increase process efficiencies in filing CFR claims. The app also provides access to maps of the forest and village boundaries at the community level, which have been developed by integrating topography information from the Survey of India with Revenue and Forest boundary maps from Jharkhand Space Applications Centre. The maps were authenticated by Gram Sabhas prior to claim submission. 

We piloted a project in Simdega district to assess carbon sequestration in community-owned forests. This project aims to provide an offset-based payment system for Community Forest Resource Rights-recognized villages under the Climate Change Recognition Framework. Additionally, the team conducting participatory forest inventory mapping in the district and has trained students from SK Bage College to map Seasonal Forest Products (SFPs) using smartphones as part of a pilot citizen science program. 

Market Linkage for communities with CFR titles 

In 2022, we facilitated the sale of Sal seeds at scale through a partnership with Manorama Industries Ltd. and AAK India Private Limited (AAKIPL). AAKIPL has committed to purchase Sal seeds from women-led community-owned enterprises at competitive market prices in the upcoming harvest season starting May 2023. AAKIPL is scheduled to visit Simdega soon to engage with the communities and government stakeholders. 

CFR recognition process 

We are working closely with government stakeholders at panchayat, block, and district levels in the pilot blocks of Bano, Jaldega, and Kolebira for implementing digital technology to accelerate Community Forest Resource (CFR) rights recognition in Jharkhand. We have trained stakeholders, formation/reformation of 53 Forest Rights Committees (FRCs) in the pilot blocks, and in the process of completing 100 additional villages. We will train nearly 150 FRCs in the next two months on the use of the RatiFi app to streamline the CFR claim generation process We will collaborate with the Forest and Revenue departments to scale up joint verification efforts and assist in submission of claims to Sub-Divisional Level committee. Representatives of the Forest Department, Revenue Department, Panchayat Mukhiyas, Ward members, and Gram Pradhan participated in three block-level discussions on CFR. Using digital technology for the first time, our field coordinators collaborate closely with Panchayats and local Gram Sabhas to engage in this CFR upscaling effort.  

BIPP-ISB is collaborating closely with the government stakeholders at panchayat, block, and district levels in the pilot blocks of Bano, Jaldega, and Kolebira to scale up the CFR rights recognition process. To establish a model for implementing the CFR in the state of Jharkhand, we are executing an operational strategy that assigns tools and job roles to stakeholders at different phases of rights recognition.  

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