Stop deforestation and restore community lands

by Krishi Avam Paristhitiki Vikas Sansthan (KRAPAVIS)
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Stop deforestation and restore community lands
Pastoralists' leaders at CBD_COP 11
Pastoralists' leaders at CBD_COP 11

A group of six pastoralists’ leaders, from the KRAPAVIS project area, participated in the CBD-COP 11 (Eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity), held in October 2012 in Hyderabad. Along with other pastoralists in India, they represented the concerns of pastoralists, and highlighted the pastoralists’ rights and the tension between conservation areas and pastoralists, by participating in different side events on grazing lands, indigenous breeds raised by pastoralists, animal biodiversity and so on. The group also made presentations in the events on CCAs (community conserved areas) like Orans or sacred groves, biodiversity and FRA (Forest Right Act) implementation in tiger reserve and other conservation areas. This local’s participation would certainly contribute (as hoped!) toward global biodiversity conservation and climate change policies!


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Agroforestry plants raising at KRAPAVIS
Agroforestry plants raising at KRAPAVIS

The project introduces agro-forestry and soil fertility improvement techniques in adjoining of Bherunathji Oran in Bakhtpura village Rajasthan, India. Also, utilizes traditional water harvesting techniques in conjunction with the modern specific structures, which is to rehabilitate or recreate water storage structure, thereby to provide optional solutions to water dispersion in degraded land. Rain water harvesting units through ditches and trenching are being created for enhancing natural regeneration. Along with this to practice agro forestry in and around the Oran, special selected plants varieties are planted. The resources latter shall be consumed by the community. Thus, it will help to reduce the pressure on the Oran. KRAPAVIS, the project implementing organization, simultaneously support the agro-pastoralist communities with relevant knowledge and skills, giving special emphasis to women and youth on biodiversity conservation and sustainable resource management, which needed to continue the preservation of the Oran to ensure the sustainability. The Oran has environmental, socioeconomic and spiritual significance as Andhram Gujjar, a 70 year old agro-pastoralist from Bakhtpura village explains “Bherunathji to Hamara Jeevan Kendra Hai Jhan Paryavaran, Samaj Aur Dharma Sab Kuch Eak Sath Hai”. What conservationists, donors and other people think about this vital initiative?  

Andhram Gujjar, 70 year old agro-pastoralist
Andhram Gujjar, 70 year old agro-pastoralist
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The Scientists team at Dehlawas oran
The Scientists team at Dehlawas oran

April 3-4, 2012, an Oxford scientist Dr Shonil Bhagwat accompanied by a TERI scientist Dr. Yogesh Gokhale and Aman Singh of KRAPAVIS visited Orans, the sacred groves in Rajasthan India.  They visited half a dozen orans which are being restored under this project. The scientists’ team gathered information in face-to face meetings with local communities, carried out field visits and provided their feed back/ suggestions on-the-spot.  Also, they suggested that along with restoration work, KRAPAVIS should take up scientific documentation of sacred groves around Sariska Tiger Reserve, in order to better understanding links in biodiversity conservation and sustaining livelihoods. The team is now in the process of developing a concept paper.

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Documenting Orans_KRAPAVIS staff among community
Documenting Orans_KRAPAVIS staff among community

During the last three months, KRAPAVIS has documented 50 Orans in Jaipur District of Rajasthan (India). ‘Orans’ serve as a strong, shared and naturalised icon of village life.  As a communal and sanctified space, they are frequently utilized as forums for local affairs.  Matters pertaining to village politics, crops and livestock a well as the Oran itself may be discussed there, and punishments for offences relating to the Oran (e.g. encroachment, destructive extraction, and the like) are often enacted around the temple or shrine.  In the process of documentation, KRAPAVIS collected the basic information about the Orans through structured survey format; recorded GPS positions of each study Oran; took photographs of each surveyed site and drawn maps of each site, showing the location and important features on the boundary and within the site; recorded any encroachments, diversions, and allotments found through visual estimate or discussions with the local guide and communities; check vegetation status and state of grazing by visual estimate.

This process has had benefited the community, in the following manner;

  • Community led documentation- their observation; opinion, semi-structured interviews; oral histories were sought on the issue, not only in meeting but discussing on-the-site, in their homes, probing and triangulation.
  • Through this process they (community) become more informed on the vital issues of Orans.
'Orans' serve strong, shared icon of village life
'Orans' serve strong, shared icon of village life
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Pastoralist uses Orans' Talabs- water source
Pastoralist uses Orans' Talabs- water source

The pastoralist communities of Rajasthan live mired in sobering destitution, subsisting in a hand-to-mouth fashion on distressingly meager resources. Yet even these few assets are perpetually under threat from Rajasthan’s arid and unpredictable climate, from its uncertain and volatile market. Such extensive challenges make life a daily struggle for the rural poor, yet they have had one support system that has helped them weather any crisis they were confronted with from times immemorial. The source of the vital assistance that enables these communities to surmount even the most extreme hardships is the sacred grove, or what is locally known as the ‘Oran’. Surviving through the ages due to their revered status that precludes unsustainable utilization, have always provided a much-needed lifeline and safeguard to their respective communities. They have done so by acting to unify people religiously, culturally and socially while providing a forum for village-level discussions, festivals and other social events; through provision of much needed sustenance for people and livestock through the ‘Talabs’ or rainwater harvesting structures, streams, wells or other water sources present in every Oran, as well as grazing pasture, which in turn enable the animals to provide dairy foods, wool, manure for use as fuel and fertilizer, and manual labor to plow the fields; valuable medicinal herbs and marketable fruits, berries, and other produce such as honey; as well as timber to be used under certain circumstances for fuel or construction materials.

KRAPAVIS, a voluntary organisation has been working in the semi-arid Aravalli hill bio-regions and arid Thar Desert of Rajasthan, India, with our field base stationed in the remote village of Bakhtpura, Alwar District, which borders the famous Sariska Tiger Reserve.  It works with rural and pastoralist communities, particularly with gujjars, to revitalize village Orans, both physically and conceptually - numerous approaches have been adopted, including training villagers, and cataloguing, reviving and campaigning for Orans; construction and repair of Oran Talabs, water harvesting structures and trenching units on the Orans’ land; setting up and maintaining a ‘Seed Bank’ and nurseries for tree plantation and grass broadcasting in Orans. During this monsoon (the reporting period), we planted about 10,000 saplings in the Orans.

Woman uses twings of 'Japund' plants from Oran
Woman uses twings of 'Japund' plants from Oran
Committee of older people, who looks after Oran
Committee of older people, who looks after Oran

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Organization Information

Krishi Avam Paristhitiki Vikas Sansthan (KRAPAVIS)

Location: Alwar, Rajasthan - India
Website:
Krishi Avam Paristhitiki Vikas Sansthan (KRAPAVIS)
Aman  Singh
Project Leader:
Aman Singh
Project Leader
Alwar, Rajasthan India

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