Environment and development
The official declaration was made on Friday in the presence of local MLA Mutchu Mithi, DC Soumya Saurabh, Lohit CCF Tarun Johri and other officials of the forest department, besides panchayat members, at the Anchal Samiti Hall here.
The official declaration states that the four clans have declared their ancestral land as CCA “to protect ancestral land, wildlife, and Idu Mishmi cultural traditions, passed down to us by our ancestors.”
It also states that the land will “initially be a CCA for 10 years, extendable after consultation with the clan members.”
“This CCA,” the declaration states, “is a way going back to where the clans’ roots lie – where the histories of their ancestors, land, rivers and streams, animals, birds, and fish are deeply interrelated.
“Through this CCA, we plan to conserve, research, manage and use sustainably – in accordance with Idu Mishmi tradition, informed by scientific knowledge, and with an eye to our rapidly changing world,” it reads.
The Idu Mishmi are known globally for their culture of conservation. The CCA, which measures 65 sq kms, has been named the Elopa-Etugu Community Eco-Cultural Preserve (EECEP).
EECEP member Abba Pulu informed, “The acronym EECEP, when pronounced as a word (ee-see-ee-pee) translates to ‘a place we left long time back’ in the Idu Mishmi language. The name itself holds deep meaning for Elopa-Etugu’s clans’ members who were forced to leave their ancestral land in 1980-90s as the Dibang river (Talo) changed course, following years of logging, and swallowed their agricultural fields. The following two decades witnessed increased outsider hunting and resource extraction in Elopa-Etugu’s land.”
Another member, Iho Mitapo, said, “After the flood, our villages had to be abandoned. Nevertheless, we used to listen to stories of how our forefathers lived there, and how abundantly wildlife was found there. This led us youngsters to have deep love and respect for the area, so much that we decided to document the area and its rich flora and fauna. We took the first step by installing camera traps in different parts. Some inaccessible areas were reached by rafting. Some areas did not have drinking water. Our team had to spend nights in makeshift tents. All this hard work paid off when we got back pleasantly shocking results through advanced analysis. We found 40 different types of animals and 100 different bird species.”
Mitapo informed that animals like clouded leopards, two types of Asiatic golden cats, marbled cats, leopard cats, Asiatic wild dogs, Himalayan black bear, large Indian civet, hog deer, and yellow throated marten were caught on their camera traps.
“Binturong and Malayan sun bear have been recorded for the first time in the region. Highly endangered Chinese pangolin, which numbers in less than 7,000 in the world, were also found. We also saw an increase in the number of sambars as they reproduce,” informed Mitapo.
He compared the number with that of the Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary (MWS) and said that, although it is four times larger than the EECEP, the MWS boasts of only 23 species of mammals, which is way lesser compared to the EECEP’s 40.
“Moreover, some animal species found in the EECEP are absent in the MWS. The MWS shows presence of only one clouded leopard, whereas our camera traps at the EECEP captured four. After seeing the results of camera trap surveys, village elders and youths unanimously agreed to take a concrete step to protect the area’s wildlife, ties to land, and rich cultural history – giving birth to EECEP CCA,” he informed.
Clan elder Mutige Menda said, “We have always been dependent on our forests and agriculture. In the early days, our harvest used to be abundant and we could even sell our extra food down here in Roing. Now, however, this has changed drastically. Fish have become scant, most animals have been hunted. Therefore, this step to conserve our land, wildlife and forests is a very welcomed decision.”
The MLA, the CCF and the DC commended the community for taking such a unique step and called it praiseworthy, “as it will benefit all humanity and set an example for the entire state.” All three pledged support to the EECEP.
The MLA informed that the state government is working with the Centre on a legal framework to allow the state’s tribal communities to gain legal land rights over their customary land.
“Such constitutional provisions already exist in Nagaland and Mizoram, but not in Arunachal Pradesh. Such a move, if achieved, should encourage more communities to protect their land,” he said.
CCF Johri said that “the area should not be overlapping with that of reserved forest area to avoid ownership confusion. Requisite approvals or permissions will also have to be sought from the department even if it is a CCA.”
What is a CCA?
A community conserved area (CCA) is an area conserved by communities for cultural, religious, livelihood, or political purposes by customary and other effective means. CCAs differ from wildlife sanctuaries and national parks as local communities take the lead in protecting their land, while also using it for non-destructive spiritual and livelihood purposes.
While CCAs remain a policy challenge in India’s existing legal framework for forest and wildlife conservation, they are a rapidly rising global phenomenon with thousands of communities across the world having declared CCAs in their traditional lands to protect nature, culture, and livelihoods from external and internal threats, particularly large-scale infrastructure development.
Arunachal’s neighbouring state, Nagaland, has close to 700 CCAs, where village councils have legal rights over forest land.
The EECEP has been declared following the customary practices framework which is an accepted form of local governance in Arunachal, and which is recognised by the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the United Nation’s International Union Conservation of Nature’s, to which India is an official signatory.
Within India, the Forest Rights Act (FRA 2006) recognises forest dwelling communities’ rights over their customary lands and empowers them to protect their land by gaining legal titles. However, the implementation of the FRA in Arunachal remains a challenge.
What is the importance of EECEP?
The EECEP is the first locally-led CCA in east-central Arunachal, and second only to the CCAs of Tawang and West Kameng. Importantly, the EECEP is the first community-conserved tropical grassland in all of India.
The EECEP contributes to India’s commitments in the Glasgow COP26, the Paris Climate Accord, and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The EECEP will be managed by a management committee composed of representatives of all four Idu Mishmi clans. The management committee’s mandate is not only to protect wildlife and restore degraded habitat through a management plan but also to create sustainable income for villagers through community-led research and sustainable tourism.
The EECEP’s objectives also include strengthening inter-generational knowledge transfer and promotion of traditional cultural norms, undertaking programmes to improve the socioeconomic wellbeing and health of the clans’ members, and to prevent large-scale infrastructure development without free, prior and informed consent of the community.
The EECEP’s management committee will seek advice from a local advisory panel composed of panchayat members, the district administration, the forest department, and community leaders, and a technical advisory panel of world-renowned experts who have voluntarily offered support to the novel initiative.
Through the declaration, there is now a complete ban on fishing using generators, explosives, poisons, hunting, and commercial extraction and sale of timber. The land will remain with the community and no single individual may sell, occupy, or reserve land in its name. Traditional fishing and small-scale collection of NTPF is allowed for the community but not outsiders.
The declaration said that, “through restoration, protection, and measured use, we hope to lay the foundation for a sustainable future for our coming generations – a future where we are once again part of nature, not superior to it – a future where economy is linked to generation, not destruction.”
First published by Arunachal Times on 4 Jun. 2022
- Two community-led organisations from Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland bagged the 2018 India Biodiversity Awards in recognition for conservation of wild species.
- In 2012, the government of India, in partnership with UNDP India, initiated the India Biodiversity Awards to recognise and honour outstanding models of biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and governance at the grassroots level.
- The work by the award winners Singchung Bugun Village Community Reserve Management Committee (Arunachal Pradesh) and Lemsachenlok Organization (Nagaland) shows that partnership between the forest department and members of indigenous communities is key to conservation.
Community-led conservation initiatives from northeast India were in the spotlight at this year’s India Biodiversity Awards. Community reserves managed by Singchung Bugun Village Community Reserve Management Committee in Arunachal Pradesh and Lemsachenlok Organization in Nagaland were recognised for their work in conservation of wild species.
Initiated in 2012 by the Government of India, in partnership with UNDP India, the India Biodiversity Awards recognise and honour outstanding models of biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and governance at the grassroots level in India.
The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) defines conservation reserves and community reserves as “protected areas of India which typically act as buffer zones to or connectors and migration corridors between established national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserved and protected forests of India.”
These protected area categories were first introduced in the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act of 2002 − the amendment to the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
Such areas are designated as conservation areas if they are uninhabited and completely owned by the government of India but used for subsistence by communities and community areas if part of the lands are privately owned.
Using traditional knowledge to protect the Bugun Liocichla in Arunachal Pradesh
It remained unknown to science till 2006, despite its distinct fluty call.
The diminutive Bugun Liocichla bird, numbering around 20 and named in honour of the Bugun tribe in Arunachal Pradesh, spurred members of the indigenous community to make a giant stride in conservation efforts.
The community voluntarily partnered with the Arunachal Pradesh Forest Department to conserve the bird that is found nowhere else in the world and its habitat, a step that eventually culminated in the creation of a 17 square km community reserve in 2016.
Discovered in the year 2006 by amateur birder Ramana Athreya, an astronomer by profession, in the forests fringing Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in the West Kameng district, the bird was named in honour of the indigenous Bugun tribe that has ownership over the forests.
Measuring just eight inches in length, with a striking olive-grey plumage, the critically endangered Bugun Liocichlas, are found nowhere else in the world.
“The forest patch where it was discovered was under the control of the Bugun tribe of the Singchung village. This forest patch was right outside the Eaglenest Sanctuary. Although the community protected the forest, it did not have legal protection,” Millo Tasser, divisional forest officer, Shergaon Forest Division, told Mongabay-India.
The realisation that the community-controlled forest was home to many endemic species such as the red panda, golden cat and marbled cat, helped shape the idea of declaring the area as a community reserve and providing protection to all the other species in the site that had became famous because of the Liocichla.
“The idea was to declare it as a community reserve and accord legal protection (as parks and wildlife sanctuaries) while simultaneously encouraging ecotourism and improving local livelihoods so the community could take additional steps for conservation. The central government also funds the community reserve,” said Tasser who spearheaded the campaign.
About three years before the community reserve was declared, the process of ecological monitoring and data collection began with the help of biologists Nandini Velho and Umesh Srinivasan. In 2013, the first meeting on the community reserve was held. This was followed by a survey of the area for boundary rationalisation in 2016.
“The scientists were instrumental in ecological monitoring and data collection and we managed to convince the Bugun members of Singchung village to set aside 17 square km of their forests as a community reserve,” Tasser recalled.
The Singchung Bugun Village Community Reserve (SBVCR) was officially declared in 2017.
“Since it is located outside the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, the reserve offers double protection, as a cushion to the sanctuary. The Singchung Bugun Village Community Reserve Management Committee has members from the indigenous community as well as from the forest department,” Tasser said.
The Committee was honoured with the IBA 2018 for using its “traditional knowledge to protect the bird and its habitat” threatened by activities like timber extraction, forest clearance and infrastructure development.
As the reserve took flight, so did activities surrounding training and capacity development. The year 2017 saw recruitment and training of staff in patrolling, snake handling and birds.
“The youth of our tribe is part of the joint patrol team and we regularly comb the forests. The Liocichla has become the archetype of saving other endangered species in the site. One of the main challenges is to ward off outsiders who try to hunt down the animals and birds,” Indi Glow, a member of the committee, told Mongabay-India, adding that there are plans to expand the reserve boundaries to bolster conservation.
“There are about 1700 to 1800 Bugun tribe members in 24 villages in the area. In Singchung village we have given up hunting and animal sacrifice rituals since 2007,” said Indi Glow.
The community reserve also safeguards forest catchment areas. “The Lama Camp area inside the community reserve is a catchment area. Forests regulate water flow and if we protect forests, we ensure there is no water scarcity in the villages down the hill. Due to the community reserve, we are able to protect a lot of medicinal plants. We are also going for organic farming,” he added with pride.
Keeping up the momentum, researcher Nandini Velho and team are in the process of finalising the management plan. She said SBVCR is truly indicative of how different people have come together to do something that nobody ever thought would be possible — “From a bird being named after a tribe, to the progressive Bugun community coming together to formalise their boundaries, to the leadership shown by the forest department, to researchers working closely with the department and community to collect data, co-write management plans and get international and national support,” Velho noted.
The committee makes sure that young people are involved in awareness generation, joint patrolling, rescue, rehabilitation and promotion of ecotourism. Singchung is a great example of marrying the traditional and the modern to conserve and protect wild species.
According to Tasser, the key takeaway from the experience is that community participation must be encouraged for conservation.
“In Arunachal, most of the forests are owned by indigenous communities and they have the right over the forests. To ensure adequate conservation there needs to be a collaboration between forest department and the communities,” Tasser added.
Ceasing hunting to revive wild species in Longleng, Nagaland
The populations of wild species such as hornbills and barking deer, which were previously hunted down, have made a dramatic resurgence in the last decade in a community conserved area in the hills of northern Nagaland.
The Yaongyimchen Community Biodiversity Conservation Area (YCBCA) in Longleng district of Nagaland is now a safe haven for 85 species of birds, including Amur falcons, 15 species of frogs, as well as leopards, barking deers, serows and otters.
This comeback is credited to 350 households of the Phom tribe who have transformed around 10 square km of a community-owned forest into a refuge for wildlife.
Maintained by a committee under the aegis of Lemsachenlok organisation, hunting of wildlife is no longer practised in the designated area, informed Y. Nuklu Phom, team member of the award-winning organisation.
“In the entire community-conserved area under our jurisdiction, no hunting is allowed, not even the traditional traps. That is one of the main successes of the conservation initiative,” Y. Nuklu Phom told Mongabay-India.
The UNDP notes that “local communities have stopped using guns and catapults and the organisation has imposed a ban on logging, hunting, fishing and trapping.”
Observations, such as extinction of wildlife species, deforestation and loss of crop productivity, led to the crystallisation of the idea of a community-conserved area.
“We looked at the rampant deforestation, changing climate, extinction of wild species and most importantly the decrease in quantum of production of the crop, the decrease in water level in the rivers and streams and disease outbreaks,” Phom said, noting the various reasons that gave the creation of a community conserved area a push.
After about four years of discussions and meetings with village councils, Yaongyimchen inhabitants began conserving the YCBCA in 2010.
“Having set aside a huge area of forest for biodiversity conservation, Amur falcons started roosting in the area and we have been witnessing the largest congregation during the last four years. We have witnessed more than a million of the migratory raptors besides the roosting in the adjacent areas,” Phom said.
One of the most successful activities of the campaign is satellite tagging of the birds.
A big challenge however, is a dearth of alternative livelihood options for the community. “Almost for ten years the community has been working very hard to conserve the ecosystem but so far we have not received assistance for alternative livelihood. Slowly, the government is taking over but we have not received such assistance so far,” Phom said.
Jhum or shifting cultivation is the only means of livelihood for the community.
“About 20 to 30 years back these areas were used as a Jhum fields. Earlier the Jhum cycle would be about 15 years but now the cycle has reduced to seven-eight years because the areas are now transformed for biodiversity conservation. So, how do we issue alternative livelihood options without the government coming forward?” Phom added.
First published on Mongabay
“Fridays For Future” is allowed to organize a bicycle demo on the A7. But the group in Hildesheim had to make compromises.
At first they weren’t allowed, but with a few changes they were: “Fridays For Future” received permission to protest with a bicycle demo on the A7 near Hildesheim. Last year, the Lüneburg Higher Administrative Court prohibited the demo. Now the activists have found a compromise in cooperation with the city of Hildesheim and the police. What does this mean for the protest?
The activist group “Last Generation” has recently been increasingly criticized for demonstrations and blockades on freeway ramps. She is accused of blocking emergency vehicles, coercion or extortion. Justice Minister Marco Buschmann even called the sit-in protests illegal. The legal classification of this form of protest is not that easy from a legal point of view.
Freedom of assembly is paramount. Although it is enshrined in the Basic Law, it can be restricted under certain conditions. A central role is played in road blockades by second-tier jurisdiction. She describes deliberately stopping the first row of waiting cars in order to set up a physical barrier for the following motor vehicles as an act of coercion.
If the blockades move in the sense of freedom of assembly, the fact of coercion is still given, but the physical blockade of the cars from the second row is no longer illegal.
The highway is officially closed
The Federal Constitutional Court writes as a specification for the resolution of such actions after a precedent in 2004: “Important weighing elements here are the duration and intensity of the action, its prior notification, alternative options via other access roads, the urgency of the blocked transport, but also the factual connection between the in persons impaired in their freedom of movement and the object of the protest.”
The interpretation in individual cases is possible within a relatively large framework. Even if the demos against food waste by the “last generation” always raise the question of the material reference, the legal scholar Tim Wihl argues in a guest article for the legal magazine LTO that there is a kind of “permanent emergency” especially in the climate crisis. In the climate emergency , the factual reference could be justified by the fact that the object of protest is omnipresent in society.
Legally, it’s even easier with Fridays For Future. “The content of the demonstration focuses on climate protection in the transport sector, where Germany is still stagnating at the emissions level of 1990,” writes “Fridays For Future”. The reference to the people restricted in private transport is therefore clearly given in a demonstration on the motorway.
With the agreement with the city and the police, however, the activists have circumvented the legal dispute: the motorway is officially closed, traffic can easily bypass the area with a detour of about ten minutes.
Demo on Sunday instead of Friday
The fact that the protest was now approved was justified by the city with the new time of the action, reports “Fridays For Future”. In 2021, the demo was still planned for Friday afternoon, but now they want to start cycling on Sunday, July 10th at 9.30 a.m. with 600 participants at Hildesheim Central Station. It’s about three kilometers on the A7, until 11 a.m. at the latest, motorized traffic is allowed to drive unhindered again.
The group chose the route via the A7 “to give our demand for a traffic turnaround more emphasis,” Vera Wagner from “Fridays For Future” Hildesheim told the taz. They also hoped to attract new participants with this form of protest. After all, cycling on the autobahn doesn’t work every Sunday.
The fact that the protest will not hit too many cars on a Sunday morning and that a detour is possible due to the route is the price for the city permit. Stop the climate crisis yes – but please only on Sunday. After all, nobody has to deal with the interpretation of the right to demonstrate anymore.
The tentacle of mining extractivism has been present in the southwestern region of Antioquia; but thanks to the resistance from the defense of the territory, predatory greed has not been able to get away with it to date. Resistance goes hand in hand with a dynamic of regeneration towards good living and post development.
“The Limits to Growth”. This Club of Rome report, published 50 years ago, is still one of the most cited, most influential and most controversial publications in the history of environmental policy. It was published in 35 languages with a total circulation of over 30 million. Together with Rachel Carson’s “The Silent Spring”, it is one of the early classics of the environmental movement.
The analysis then used a computer model called World3 to model the interaction of five stylized variables over the period 1972-2100: population, technology, industrial production, non-renewable resources and pollution. The gross national product, which is generally meant in the concept of economic growth, was not included, but at most indirectly included in the concept of industrial production.
The authors modeled several scenarios that assumed, among other things, different resource availability and different technology developments. Most led to collapse during the 21st century. However, the Club of Rome emphasized that the report also contained a positive message: With forward-looking politics, this collapse could be avoided.
The authors published updates to the report after 20 and 30 years, which basically confirmed the original results. However, resource availability was not the first limit the world system encountered. On the other hand, environmental pollution in the form of non-toxic, at first glance seemingly harmless substances such as CO₂ and now also plastic has proven to be the most stubborn problem to date, which is difficult to get a grip on and unbalances our global ecological systems.
Independent analyzes also essentially confirmed the original results. Yale researcher Gaya Herrington compared 2021 World3 model results with empirical data and found good agreement, particularly with the scenarios assuming increased resource availability (BAU2) and accelerated technology development (CT). However, they both lead to a decline in industrial output from 2040, albeit with very different consequences.
The report was highly controversial from the start, and flagrantly false claims, such as the report predicting a collapse in 1990, were also widely circulated. He generated a controversy that continues to this day. Because in the end there remains a dilemma: our societies have so far been dependent on economic growth – from social security to taxes and the stability of the financial system. Even the investments required for the energy transition generate an impetus for growth. And while the energy turnaround meets with broad approval in principle, it would certainly not be feasible to shrink the gross national product by the magnitudes in which climate protection is concerned.
Ultimately, it must be a question of clearly distinguishing between what is allowed to grow and what must shrink: the use of nature in its various dimensions must shrink radically. The environmentally relevant end values of human consumption (living space per capita, mobility kilometers, etc.) must certainly increase somewhat in the global south, and at least remain stable in the north. And the growth of the gross national product is not the central objective from this perspective, but at best the resultant and possibly a condition for economic stability.
The concept of the Great Transformation, brought into the debate by the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) in 2011, also makes an important contribution. The term, which goes back to the social historian Karl Polanyi, first of all emphasizes the processual, dynamic nature of the upcoming change. Usually classified as «social-ecological» as an adjective, it makes it clear that it is not about marginal adjustments to an otherwise wonderfully running economy, but about a fundamental change in the essential systems that determine our way of life: energy, transport, housing, nutrition, industry.
Technological changes are often closely intertwined with lifestyle changes: the change from the car-centric city to an attractive mix of bicycles and e-bikes, networked local public transport and various sharing services – including a remnant of electrified, shared automobility – is beginning to emerge interlocking system of technical innovation, infrastructure and the resulting changes in behavior. From this point of view, the “lifestyle versus technology” debate, which is repeated on many talk shows, turns out to be a false dichotomy.
From the point of view of the transformation of the systems energy, transport, housing and nutrition that are essential for our environmental consumption, life cycle assessments carried out at a single point in time for individual technologies become questionable. For example, the CO₂ balance of electromobility in a coal-fired power system may not be particularly convincing compared to an efficient diesel. However, if you understand the transition as part of a major transformation of the energy and transport system, it makes more sense.
Such a transformation takes many years, even if it has to happen very quickly due to the failures of the past 50 years. There is no panacea. CO₂ pricing, highly praised by many economists, will at best play a supporting role ( see the contribution by Cullenward and Victor ).
In each of the sectors, transformation pathways need to be explored that intertwine technical practices, infrastructure and technologies with behavioral changes, social coalitions for change need to be forged and politically effective in order to square the circle of ambition and pragmatism. The increasing moments of crisis must be used for quantum leaps in the right direction instead of falling back into old patterns.
Technological developments are indispensable, but their implementation can no longer be left to the profit motive alone. Their opportunities must be used to reduce the ecological footprint, not to fulfill our dreams. Whether air taxis or space tourism, supersonic flight and Bitcoin mania: Not everything that is technically possible and fulfills individual wishes or even greed for profit is also of general interest. Because then the growth of desires, not infrequently even greed, drives the world into the abyss. A clever, socially negotiated self-restraint is necessary at these points: Our world has enough for everyone’s needs, but not for everyone’s greed (M. Gandhi).
In all of this, the Great Transformation will not be linear. History will inevitably zigzag forward. Despite all setbacks and growing ecological crises, it is always about keeping an eye on the goal: the fastest possible socially sustainable transformation of our way of life and economic activity towards 100 percent renewable energies, environmentally friendly land use and a comprehensive circular economy.
We will not get away scot-free as things stand now. The “impacts” are getting closer: Burning forests, thawing permafrost, heat waves and melting polar ice caps are just a few warning signs. Numerous global ecosystems have been damaged too massively, from the climate to the oceans and forests to the soil. But with a great deal of effort, the coming crises can perhaps be used as moments of transformation that will still prevent the collapse predicted by the Club of Rome models in the 1930s to 1950s and at least allow for a “soft landing” (Adam Tooze & Jonathan Barth) can enable.
Solidarity with the most vulnerable in our global society is a prerequisite for this. The best moment to initiate the Great Transformation would have been 50 years ago. The second best is today – and parts of it are already on the way.
Jörg Haas is a consultant for international politics at the Heinrich Böll Foundation.
The Sumi tribe of Nagas uses several ecological indicators to facilitate agricultural practices and predict seasonal variation; but this wisdom is vanishing with the passage of time