Karnataka

Now, a policy to involve farmers in wildlife conservation

It entails converting agricultural land into ‘private forests’

In an effort to avoid man-animal conflicts in areas/lands adjacent to protected forests and tiger reserves/elephant corridors, the State government has proposed to bring out the Karnataka Forest Policy on Private Conservancies in which land owners/institutions can voluntarily donate their land for enlarging wildlife habitat.

The policy, which was cleared by the Department of Forest and Environment headed by B. Ramanath Rai, encourages land owners living close to the protected areas and corridors for establishing private conservancies by changing the land use from the present practice of agriculture/plantation crops to “silvi-pasture system”, which can be termed as private forests.

The State has 35 sanctuaries/national park/reserve/corridors spreading over 9,58,6.107 sq km. Reserve forest forms 15.48 % of the total geographical area of the State and over a dozen of animals and human beings are killed in the State owing to man-animal conflicts.

As a replacement for income from agriculture/plantation/horticulture practices, the landowners opting for declaring their lands under private conservancies will be allowed to take up eco-tourism activities.

Eco-tourism

Officials said not more than 5% of land brought under private forests (silvi-pasture) and declared as conservancy will be utilised for the construction of buildings for the purposes of eco-tourism and its co-activities as campus. Moreover, the land use within the private conservancy has to be approved by the Chief Wildlife Warden of the State.

“The State is blessed with wildlife spaces such as tiger reserves, national parks, sanctuaries, conservation reserves with wildlife heritage, and biological diversity. Private conservancies enable the co-existence of humans and wildlife with least conflict,” Mr. Rai, who initiated the policy after recent foreign tours, told The Hindu.

The lands falling in buffer/eco-sensitive zones are more preferable.

A minimum area that could be proposed for constituting the conservancy has to be stipulated by the Chief Wildlife Warden. The areas with tree growth, grassy blanks with perennial water resources are preferred, sources in the department said.

Amendments

Acts such as the Karnataka Forests Act and Rules, Wildlife (Protection) Act and Rules, the Environment (Protection) Act and Rules, and relevant Revenue Act and Rules are to be amended for enabling the private landholders to establish private conservancies to avoid legal impediments.

The proposed rules stipulated that the individuals, farmers, planters, companies, and NGOs owning lands adjacent to protected areas/corridors have to apply to the nearest Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) expressing the willingness to form conservancy. The DCF, after field inspections, will recommend the proposal to the Chief Wildlife Warden for forming the conservancy, sources said.

Management committee

The State government will constitute a private conservancy management committee which will be the authority responsible for conserving, maintaining, and managing the private conservancy. The committee would advise the Chief Wildlife Warden on the private conservancy.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 3:28:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/now-a-policy-to-involve-farmers-in-wildlife-conservation/article19567866.ece

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