Healing the Broken Spine: A Community-led Conservation Initiative in Garo Hills, Meghalaya, India

Ruffner, Jennifer and Barbery Smith, Ennis (2019) Healing the Broken Spine: A Community-led Conservation Initiative in Garo Hills, Meghalaya, India. In: 2018 US/ICOMOS Symposium "Forward Together: A Culture-Nature Journey Towards More Effective Conservation in a Changing World", November 13-14, 2018, San Francisco, California. [Conference or Workshop Item]


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Abstract (in English)

PART 1. ADOPTING A LANDSCAPE APPROACH - Stewardship of Biocultural Landscapes in the 21st Century: Forging Community-Based Approaches /// Garo Hills, part of the Meghalaya elephant landscape in India, includes the Garo Hills Elephant Reserve and five elephant corridors, supporting about 800-1000 elephants. The Nokrek National Park along with a network of forest patches connecting to Balpakram National Park forms the backbone of biodiversity of the region and is designated as Garo Green Spine. In Garo Hills only 7-8% of the forested area is controlled by the Forest Department; the remaining area is owned by local communities under the jurisdiction of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC). Age-old agricultural practices like slash-and-burn cultivation (jhum) have fragmented the forests, affecting wildlife movement and increasing human-wildlife conflict, especially with elephants. Despite the dependence on such agricultural practices crucial for core sustenance, the Garo tribes take it upon themselves to stitch together this ‘spine’ through a community-led conservation initiative. This paper proposes to capture the spirit behind the unique initiative by these communities along with Wildlife Trust of India and World Land Trust, which work in partnership with the GHADC in protecting community lands as ‘Village Reserve Forests’. This remarkable way of conservation has resulted in protection of over 2800 hectares of forest patches and habitat restoration of another 200 hectares. This is an affirmation of indigenous rights, self-governmentand community empowerment creating a multi-level impact resulting in not just wildlife habitat protection but also a positive social impact on the communities with regards to their livelihood and lifestyle. Such conservation measures can be a big step towards sustainable environmental protection in the long term.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Ruffner, Jennifer
Barbery Smith, Ennis
Languages: English
Keywords: Wildlife Conservation; Forest Management; Meghalaya, Garo Tribe; Community Based Conservation; Village Reserve Forest; GHADC, Wildlife Trust of India; natural heritage; community participation; local communities; social and economic aspects; legal protection; indigenous people; human rights; india
Subjects: E.CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION > 06. Cultural Landscapes
E.CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION > 09. Social and economic aspects of conservation
E.CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION > 11. Legal protection and Administration
H.HERITAGE TYPOLOGIES > 19. Natural sites
J.HERITAGE ECONOMICS > 05. Heritage and sustainable development
Name of monument, town, site, museum: Garo Hills
National Committee: United States of America
ICOMOS Special Collection Volume: 2018 US/ICOMOS Symposium
Depositing User: ICOMOS DocCentre
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2020 15:51
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2020 15:51
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URI: https://openarchive.icomos.org/id/eprint/2287

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