Conserving private forests in Koyna-Chandoli Corridor: Establishing a model for sustainability
Koyna Private Forests - The Western Ghats, also known as the Sahyadri, is one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world and harbours several rare and endangered species of plants and animals. Mālki forests (forests on private land) are extensively found in the Western Ghats. Mālki forests are very important for several ecosystem services such as soil conservation, regulation of water flow in rivers, prevention of global warming, conservation of biodiversity and landscape connectivity. They also provide forest produce and income to the owners. (Read news item on mālki forests).
Koyna Sanctuary and Chandoli National Park together constitute the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve. The Koyna Chandoli corridor lies between Koyna Sanctuary and Chandoli National Park. It is a critical wildlife corridor and also forms part of the buffer zone of Sahyadri Tiger Reserve. It sustains extensive mālki forests along with government forests. The area has distinct climatic and geographic conditions which gives rise to rich biodiversity. Considering its importance as a critical wildlife corridor and the large extent of mālki forests in this region WRCS is implementing a project for conservation of private forests. Some benefits of conserving mālki forests are:
- Monetary benefits to local community
- Valuable ecosystem services such as soil conservation, regulation of watershed runoff
- Conservation of biodiversity
- Strengthening the connectivity of the wildlife corridor
The project area consists of 16 villages with a total area of 8000 hectares, of which 3900 hectares (49%) is under private forests. The people in the project area belong to economically underprivileged section of society. They have little knowledge about scientific management of natural resources. Their main occupation is subsistence agriculture. Many people from the area have migrated to Mumbai for work.
At present the mālki forests are managed unsustainably because of which they are getting degraded. Many areas are changed to scrubby growth and grassland. There is tremendous potential for conseriving the forests and and improving the monetary returns to their owners if the forests are managed sustainably by applying principles of scientific forestry.
Through this project WRCS is promoting sustainable forest management practices that will yield enhanced forest produce and also conserve the forests. The community is encouraged to protect their mālki forests from tree cutting and fire. Tree plantation is carried out using native tree species in blank spaces and gaps in the forest. Bamboo plantation is being carried out to yield quick income. At a later stage they will be trained in scientific forestry practices. Income generating activities such as bee keeping and cottage industries are being promoted.
All malki owners are advised to protect their forests from fire, tree cutting and grazing by cattle. Tree plantation, using native tree species, was carried out on land of mālki owners in 2013 and 2014. Plantation of native tree tree species and bamboo was carried out in all the plots. Bamboo will yield quick income which which will encourage participation in the project. Harvest of trees by scientific principles will yield monetary returns in the long run. Some malki owners have started scientific management of their malki forests with good results.
Bee keeping is being promoted as an activity compatible with private forestry. Several training sessions have been conducted through the project. We are exploring opportunities for other income generating activities.
Conservation of Mālki forest in this region will consolidate the corridor between Koyna Sanctuary and Chandoli National Park. It will serve as an excellent model for conservation of Mālki forests in Western Ghats.
We have carried out several events under this project. Click on the links below to see some of the main events:
Support the project
Incentive-based conservation is a widely practised strategy of offering monetary or in-kind incentives to the stakeholders to encourage them to adopt sustainable management practices. The incentives are generally low, but sufficient to motivate the stakeholders to adopt the sustainable management practices. Conservation of existing forests by paying incentives is more cost-effective than carrying out plantation on degraded land. Agreements will be made with the malki owners to protect forests on their land for a period of at least 5 years. Incentives will be paid after appropriate verification. We expect that the malki land owners will become self reliant after a period of 5 years and manage their forests sustainably without need for incentives.
We appeal for monetary contributions to carry out incentive-based conservation of mālki forests at Koyna. We need your sustained commitment for a period of at least 5 years. Your donations will be used to pay incentives (cash or kind) to malki owners for protection of mālki forests. You can contribute to tree plantation through the Donate a Tree Scheme. Please visit the donations page to make donations. Please contact us to discuss specific activities to suport.