Understanding the Impediments in Implementing Community Forest Rights in a Biodiversity Hotspot: Western Ghats of Karnataka, India

Roshni Kutty

India’s Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA) aims to conserve forests AND sustain livelihoods by recognizing traditional forest-dwelling communities to be an integral part of the forest ecosystem. Few studies on its implementation have been carried out in the Western Ghats – a biodiversity hotspot. My project aims to 1) study the reasons for poor implementation of community forest rights and 2) facilitate an information network among stakeholders involved in the implementation of these community forest rights. This project will contribute to increased awareness about FRA among targeted communities and facilitate a community network to assist them in getting their forest rights recognized.

This research project is being conducted by me as part of my PhD thesis, across four districts in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. It aims to understand factors that play a significant role in the implementation of collective forest rights under FRA in the Western Ghats landscape of Karnataka. The study carried out under this project will generate baseline information on status and process of FRA implementation in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. The project will identify problem areas that have significantly affected implementation of community forest rights under FRA. This information will be useful for government and non-governmental agencies involved in implementation of FRA to take corrective actions and enhance the rights recognition process of communities. Towards the latter half of the project period, workshops will be conducted to educate and sensitize communities as well as government officials about Forest Rights Act.

This project aims to create networks of information flow between implementation agencies and communities in order to achieve this objective. In order for effective dissemination of information about Forest Rights Act to the targeted beneficiaries - in this case, residents (mostly indigenous communities) of remote forest villages – 5 one-day workshops will be conducted. These will be held at village level to increase accessibility, so that more villagers can participate in the workshop. The workshops will be held in the local language, with a resource person who will be well versed in the language as well as the practical aspects of the law. However, the overall structure and conduct of the workshops will be my responsibility. Through the workshops this project will contribute to increased awareness about FRA among communities and facilitate a community network to assist them in getting their forest rights recognized

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