Trading for Survival : A study of NTFP extraction in UP and Uttarakhand

A study was carried out to assess the impact of NTFP collection in Askot Sanctuary in Uttaranchal and Suhelwa and Ranipur Sanctuaries in Uttar Pradesh. The study estimated extraction firewood, fodder, timber and other NTFP by the local population from the sanctuary areas. The communities living on the outskirts of sanctuaries depend on the sanctuary resources for many items of forest produce such as firewood, timber, bamboo, fodder for cattle, cattle grazing, leaves, fruits and medicinal plants. These items of forest produce are an important part of their lifestyle. Sale of forest produce is an important means of supplementing their meager incomes. At the same time NTFP collection can create several adverse impacts on the forests. Thus it is important to ensure that the extraction of NTFP is done in a controlled manner and does not create long-term harmful impacts on the forests. To assess the impact of NTFP collection, 20 households were selected from each village and were divided into distinct strata in each sanctuary and representative villages in each stratum were selected for study. Stratification criteria included altitude, forest type near the village, distance from sanctuary boundary. The techniques used for estimating NTFP use by households included structured interviews, pay-off games and actual measurement. Attempts were made to devise alternatives to the present NTFP usage levels and patterns based on focus group discussions.NTFP usage was divided into distinct components: firewood, grazing and fodder, timber, bamboo and Other NTFP. Timber is not an NTFP but its usage was estimated and its impact considered for sake of completeness. Firewood use was estimated by actual measurement of firewood consumed in each household selected for study combined with structured interview. Monthly variations, proportion of firewood usage from forest and non-forest sources were determined and taken into account to determine the annuals firewood usage by the household.

Fodder consumption was estimated based on the number of domestic animals in the household and using standard estimates of fodder consumption by domestic animals based on their body mass. Estimate of break-up between grazing and stall-feeding and between forest and non-forest sources for fodder as well as grazing was carried out using pay-off games. Timber usage was determined in two ways, firstly for house-building and secondly for other household articles and requirements. The number of new houses in each village were enumerated and their timber consumption estimated for determining timber usage for house construction. The timber requirement for other articles was determined by structured interviews. Bamboo consumption was also determined in the same way. Sale of NTFP including firewood, fodder and medicinal plants was also estimated by structured interviews. This was crosschecked from informants within the village. Impact of NTFP was determined by doing a study of the vegetation. Transects were laid beginning from the edge of the forest and going into the forest .

Some common patterns are found in all sanctuaries. Grazing and fodder taken together is generally the NTFP that is extracted in the largest quantities. This is followed closely by firewood Firewood extraction and grazing and fodder are two almost universal needs, which are fulfilled from sanctuaries. Poverty increases the level of pressure on protected areas because it forces people to sell products in addition to their regular needs. Timber extraction for personal use does not exert a high level of pressure on the sanctuaries. Medicinal extraction from sanctuaries in the plains is not a major threat. However there appears to be a high level of extraction of medicinal plants from Askot Sanctuary.

There is in general no control at all on firewood extraction or grazing. In rare cases local field staff tried to be strict and control firewood and grazing collection. However the field staff needs to be backed by the senior officers and the problems should be tackled on a campaign basis. Individual local action cannot solve the problem. Free entry into sanctuaries is one of the major problems associated with all the sanctuaries. In general the level of patrolling was quite low in all sanctuaries. Protection levels need to be stepped up. A carrot and stick approach is necessary to control the impact of NTFP extraction.

Supported by : Uttar Pradesh Forest Deaprtment