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Forest landscapes of the southern western Ghats, India

B.R. Ramesh
Rajan Gurukkal

Part III. Towards a Paradigm Shift: Rethinking Strategies of Landscape Management

11. Competing Claims and Multiple Stakes: Institutions for Integrating Stakeholder Interests in Forest Management

Rajan Gurukkal, B.R. Ramesh, M. Amruth et P.V. Karunakaran

Texte intégral

1The core actor-component in the landscape management plan is the people who form the primary user of resources and hence the custodian. The forest department exercises a major role as the representative of the government who is the owner of the landscape in theory. In practice, it is a right to administer state’s ownership over forests so as to facilitate transfer of the user-rights to people who have to manage the resources in an ecologically sustainable manner. As per the existing national laws as well as the state-level governmental orders, it is the official responsibility of the forest officers to mobilise, institutionalise and empower the local user-people of the forest to participate in the management of the resources and conservation of the biodiversity. In order to facilitate partnership of people and transfer of incentives, the department is expected to facilitate formation of forest user groups. Formation of user groups is a sociological process of refashioning identities of participants. It is a sensitive process demanding utmost care and understanding for making contractual assurances and building trust between the collaborating partners.

  • 1 Esprit de corps is regard for the honour and interests of the body to which one belongs. T (...)

2Along with democratisation of the forest use, the ethos of the new regime has to be imbibed by the forest department and the members of user groups. In this the most challenging aspect is requirement of structural and attitudinal changes within the KFD. The hierarchical structure of the KFD epitomised by upholding the esprit de corps has been reinforced over one and half a century of its existence.1 This is primarily a hurdle in entering into partnership with local people and other agencies. Administrative structure of the forest department has not changed in congruence with the new shift in management. Given the fact that the avowed role of the department staff has undergone a complete change, the question here is whether the institutional structure of KFD is facilitating such a behavioural change. This paper discusses some of the crucial factors in the institutionalisation of forest users and institutional reorientation of the forest department.

3Another equally important aspect the paper seeks to discuss is the integration of the stakeholder perceptions. The shift in ideals of the forest management in the last decade necessitated consideration of the interests of various agents associated with forests. Under the conventional management regime, large forest administrative units were managed with single use objective, either for the timber production or for biodiversity conservation, mostly by single agency- the forest department. The changed management regime is intended to account for the multiple use values of the forests and socio economic need of forest dependent communities, industries and institutions that may have competing and conflicting interests and priorities. The challenge here is successful incorporation of the multiple stakes and competing claims of agencies by their spatio-temporal segregation and institutional integration. This paper sets out to identify the roles played by various human agencies in changing and regulating the ecological process of the forest ecosystems in the landscape under study. Apart from analysing the institutional interests of various agencies, possible institutional solutions for resolving the conflicts are also explored.


4The approach followed in the paper is informed by the insights from critical social theory and political theory of new institutions. Political theory of new institutions provides efficient methods of institutional analysis by combining new institutional economics, game theory and sociology of collective action. Here thrust is for developing strategies for analysing the weaknes and strengths of the existing institutions for suggesting more efficient socially informed methods of crafting and grafting of new institutions. Developing synergies is another aspect brought in to the scope of this paper. Synergy is built by integrating institutional interests through institutional networks. Strategies for linking up the institutions are proposed after a thoroughgoing analysis of the perceptions of all interest groups in the context of the sustainable forest management.

5Stakeholders are ‘any group or individual who can affect or are affected by the achievement of forest management objectives’. Obviously, identification of stakeholder is closely linked with the objectives of forest management. Considering the objectives of landscape level forest management, the following criterion is used for identifying the stakeholders in the management of the forest landscape:

6The individual, community, institution or industry that has:

  1. Any form of right on some features of the forest landscape. These include rights such as, access rights, withdrawal rights, management rights, right to exclude others etc.
  2. Possession of knowledge, technology or skill pertaining to specific resource (s) in the forest landscape
  3. Economic or social reliance on forest resources
  4. Loses and damage or gain or improvement associated with any kind of forest management input
  5. Historical or cultural relations with any features of forest landscape
  6. Interests or concern on certain features of the forest landscape
  7. Potential for resulting some kind of impact on ecological integrity of the forest landscape

7The idea of stakeholder in natural resource management is borrowed from business management where the concept was employed for identifying the interest groups and management of these groups for effecting profit maximisation in a limiting business environment. In Natural Resource Management (NRM), objectives and priorities are starkly different from that of the business management. For instance, the question of management of the stakeholder interests by a single agency raises questions of authority and power in case of NRM. All the stakeholders are considered as having equal claim over the resources in the case of business management, where the power and authority is considered as enabling. Whereas in the case of the forest management, not all the stakeholders can be considered as possessing the same level of claim over the resources. Varieties of claims crop up from diverse user groups, some of which are ethically and politically more deserving and thus demand prioritisation of needs of some agencies over the others.

8Stakeholders were identified using a criteria evolved by consulting relevant literature (Grimble and Chan, 1995). Rights regime, resource access, immediate interests, and the present and future resource demands etc. of each of these stakeholders was compiled. Common institutional platforms available for communicating were discussed to evolve a mechanism for the conflict resolution and greater participation. This information is evaluated against the objectives, priorities and values of the landscape level planning process to determine the relative spatial segregation of the conflicting and contradicting resource use claims.

Classification of stakeholders

9The ‘key stakeholders’ are the most obvious and the primary, who are responsible for the coordination of the whole process of landscape level forest management. The remaining stakeholders may be identified belonging to groups of direct or indirect stakeholders. Direct stakeholders are those immediately and directly affected by changes in the features of the forest ecosystem under question. Among this category are communities, individuals, institutions and industries that derive either direct material benefits or immediate climatic services from the forests. The category of direct stakeholders consists of the representative or intermediary groups including civil society organisations, NGOs, technical and professional bodies etc.

10The various agents may be grouped under the following heads:

  1. Local communities
  2. Governmental agencies
  3. PFM institutions, cooperatives and corporation
  4. Industries and business agencies
  5. Academic and research institutions
  6. Other groups such as religious groups, tourists, NGOs and international agencies.
  • 2 See Annex 11.1 for various agencies belonging to each group, nature of their dependency on (...)

11Here, stakeholders are identified according to their claims of rights on the forest landscape under consideration. An attempt is also made to sort out strategies for integrating their interests in sustainable forest management. Most of such concerns are hitherto unrepresented in the existing administrative arrangement. The agencies or interest groups are discussed in detail below.2 The Figure 11.1 provides a pictorial depiction of the categories of stakeholders

Figure 11.1 Categories of Stakeholders

Property rights and the stakeholders

12The behaviour of actors in forest management is influenced by the prevailing system of property rights. Here the property right is defined as an enforceable authority to undertake particular actions in a specific domain. Thus, the permissible sets of actions that an individual is capable of taking up in relation to a property and other individuals are defined by the property right. According to this definition for every right, someone else has a commensurate duty to oversee that right. In the case of forest management, the state assumes this role through forest department. Five types of property right arrangements that are relevant in case of common resources, was identified by Schlager and Ostrom (1992). These are access, withdrawal, management, exclusion, and alienation. The salient features of these rights are described in the Table 11.1.

Table 11.1 Property rights on the common resources by various categories of stakeholders.

Rights Salient features
Right to access The right to enter a defined physical area and enjoy non-subtractive benefits (e.g., trekking, tourism).
Right to withdrawal The right to obtain resource units or products of a resource system (e.g., cutting firewood or timber, diverting water).
Right to management The right to regulate internal use patterns and transform the resource by making improvements (e.g., planting seedlings and thinning trees).
Right to exclusion The right to determine who will have an access right, and how that right may be transferred. (e.g., exclusion of other agencies from collecting NWFPs)
Right to alienation The right to sell or lease. Private property is frequently defined as a well-defined right of alie-nation. (e.g., right to contract exclusive extraction rights of reed by the industry)

13The property right claimed by all categories of stakeholders was identified and its implications are incorporated in the analysis of stakeholders in the following section.

Local communities

  • 3 Figure 6.1 provides locations of adivasi colonies, non-adivasi enclaves and major forest f (...)

14Local communities include the following three sets of population (Figure 6.1 in chapter 6) :3

  1. The adivasi population residing in the colonies located along the fringes or inside the forests.
  2. The non-adivasi population in the enclaves and the fringe area population of small farming households.
  3. The labour population of the commercial plantations.

Adivasi communities

15The adivasi population residing in and around the forests form one of the most important stakeholders of the participatory forest management. Adivasi communities possess knowledge of terrain and spatial and temporal distribution of resources as they are the traditional users of the resources for subsistence and income generation. The social worlds of adivasi have been undergoing rapid change ever since the intensification of the state control over the forest and their subsequent exposure to the non-adivasi population. Market and state have been the most decisive influences effecting this social change. These influences were detrimental to the communities owing to the wrongly set priorities. On the one hand, their traditional institutions and economy were weakened and on the other, their options of shifting to modern economy and development regime were curtailed, mainly due to restriction on owning and cultivating land and want of technology for cultivation.

16Despite expending large sums of money through an exclusive ministerial office and government department, adivasi communities are yet to benefit from this. The ministerial efforts are limited to providing shortterm material benefits, disbursing financial aids and establishment of exclusive educational facilities for tribal population. Their social capacities for appropriating the aids provided by the government is never assessed nor enriched. Instead communities are taken for a ride unequipped on the path of market integration. The change from shifting cultivation to settled agriculture among the Muthuvan and Mannan is imposed by the action of the forest department but these communities are forced to negotiate this shift unassisted by any government agencies. Some of these tribal communities are evicted as part of the power projects and pushed around by the settlers. Owing to historical reasons a considerable proportion of the population of Kadar, Malayar, Malasar and Malamalasar does not have sufficient land for cultivation. In the interior hamlets in forests their income generation possibilities are limited to collection and marketing of NWFP. Even this is also not permitted for those who live in the PAs. In recent years there were violent unrests in most of the adivasi areas in the state for the land rights. It is the land controlled by the forest department that is first targeted by the government and the public opinion for meeting such demands. Often the issue of tribal development is seen mere as an issue of land rights. This kind of reductionism is risky, but for Muthuvan, Mannan, Malayarayan and a small sections of Malayan all other tribal communities view land as an object of exchange and any private ownership of land would not benefit them in the long-run. So a detailed social preparation is necessary for effecting meaningful changes. At present there are more than one government agency that facilitate the tribal development. However, these agencies are not coordinated to produce complementary results and the following strategies suggested for the better enlistment of the communities.


  • The development of forest dwelling communities should be coordinated by forest department through VSS, three tier panchayath, tribal cooperative, tribal welfare department, revenue authorities, etc.
    • ○ Develop an institutional mechanism to identify the requirements of adivasis by consulting them, academicians and administrators for forging a conservation oriented development strategy.
    • ○ Coordinate the activities of different departments and agencies through the above intuitions and minimize the impact on forestlands.
    • ○ Prioritize the needs and implement the activities through the local institutions (VSS/EDC).
    • ○ Ensure transparency in implementation with the help of above institutions.
  • The demand for land by tribal families should be met from the resumed plantations or in areas were income generation is possible.
    • ○ Assess and estimate the extent of land required for distribution
    • ○ Explore the possibility of acquiring/annexing/resuming-leased and converted lands.
    • ○ Restrict the title deeds of the land as non-saleable property.

18The communities such as Kadar, Malasar and Malamalasar are landless or near-landless and are remotely placed from modern facilities and institutions. Cultivating communities such as Muthuvan-s and Mannan-s were forced to practise settled cultivation by abandoning the shifting cultivation; thus effecting a shift in technology of cultivation unassisted by any of the state agencies. These shifts have repercussions on the subsistence options at intra and inter household levels. As the population increased, the forestland earmarked for cultivation for these communities become inadequate. Though these issues are obvious there are hardly any measures to address these issues. Since forest department is the proximate governmental agency interacting with adivasi communities, the PFM institutions should be able to provide a platform for discussing and resolving these issues with the concerted effort of other agencies (see Chapter 6 for detailed social-historical account on the adivasi communities in the landscape units).

Fringe area non-adivasi, settler population

19Population along the forest fringes is characterised by non-adivasi, in-migrant population of smallholder cultivators. Fringe area holdings were originally forestlands encroached by the settler cultivators and awarded land title following prolonged political lobbying. Livelihood choices of majority of households are wage and construction labour supplemented by the income from their small holdings and livestock. The requirement of fodder, fuel, green manure, small poles is mostly met from the adjacent forest areas. Nearly 98 percent of the households use firewood as principal cooking fuel. Brewing of arrack requires large quantity of fuel wood and water are often practised in the hideouts in forest areas. The problem is especially severe in the Chalakudy division. These makeshift country-distilling units cause forest fire in summer months. (see chapter 6 for a detailed social-historical account on the fringe area population).

Plantation labour population

20Another category of fringe area population is the labour force of the corporate plantations and their dependents. The montane subtropical climate at Malakkappara and Nelliyampathi facilitates cultivation of coffee and tea. Joint stock companies or individual European planters have leased land here and raised plantations of coffee and tea from last decades of the 19th century. Planting, tending, harvesting and processing necessitated engagement of labour population brought mostly from the plains of Tamil Nadu. These labourers are

Table 11.2 Incorporating stakeholder interests in forest management-Local communities

Stakeholders Impediments Mitigation measures Integration to SFM
1. Adivasigroups-inside or along the fringes of forests  Lack of legal rights over land
 Decreasing per capita land
 Decreasing income generation options
 Decreased social mobility due to forest laws and restrictions on landuse
 Voluntary resettlement for land
 Craft sustainable
- NWFP based
 Facilitate social development by coordinating the efforts of various other departments
 Strengthen PFM institutions
 Provide represen-tational power to adivasi
cooperatives in the forest management planning
 Set up coordination committees of interlinking institutions for developing institutional synergies
2. Fringe area, non-adivasicommunities of small farming households &
Fringe area labourcommunities in commercial plantations
 Lack of adequate supply of biomass for fuel, fodder etc
 Rural unemployment
 Prevalence of higher interest rates
 Lack of quality educational
 Collaborative fuel and fodder development programmes in homesteads,
revenue lands
and selected degraded forest areas in collaboration with local bodies
 Technical and skill development efforts for unemployed youths in collaboration
with other
governmental agencies (KVIB,
TRYSEM etc.)
 Encouragement of community level microfinance
 Confine social forestry activities to selected farm, forest areas jointly with PFM institutions
 Setup coordination committees for communicating and coordinating with relevant governmental
and non-governmental organisations
 Appropriate technology and skill development in collaboration with other agencies and training
institutions under the aegis of PFM institutions

put-up in the labour colonies or shelters with any land rights. Therefore, their sole source of income is from selling labour to plantations. Dependence on forests by the members of the labour colonies is limited to extraction of firewood and fodder for subsistence needs and the small quantities of fuel sold to the hotels. The labour rights of these families have improved considerably during the second half of the 20th century following the campaigns spearheaded by trade unions. However, in recent past, due to a slump in international market of coffee and tea, most plantations especially the smaller ones are scaling down or are totally abandoning their operations. This has virtually laid labour population off their sole source of income. Since these families are landless, they are entitled to leave the colonies once they are asked to do so. There have been apprehensions as to whether such populations would seek their livelihoods by appropriating forest produce or by encroaching forestland for cultivation. Nonetheless, no such incidents have been reported from the study area.

  • 4 Approximate number of labourers and their dependents resident in the plantation area is es (...)

21Rubber plantations of Cochin Malabar Estates and Harrison Malayalam Ltd. share borders with the forests of the Chalakudy division and the Chimmony wildlife sanctuary. These estates are forestlands under long-term lease. They employ large number of labourers and provide labour shelters for maintaining their families.4 Like the tea and coffee plantation workforce, these labour groups also depend on the forests for fodder of their livestock. Most of these labour families have come here from the Malappuram district a few generations back. There is an increase in the net population and some of these population in the recent periods have already started spilling over to the adivasi settlements adjacent to these plantations. Keeping in view of the oft-repeated history of forestland encroachment in Kerala, adequate measures should be taken to prevent it here on the cessation of the lease periods.

Institutionalisation of forest users

22Institution, informal as well as formal, is intended for coordinating the behaviour of individuals in a group so that the individual actions would produce collectively desirable results. In this sense, institutions are also coercive structures of control over the free will of the individuals. Institutions perpetuate and evolve by shaping and reshaping the identities of individuals in a group. Thus the objective of institutionalisation of the participation is to help people to identify themselves with the forest. Institutions can be crafted and grafted to suit specific purposes and such conscious attempts will have to be guided by suitable knowledge base to achieve the objectives. In the case of PFM the knowledge base is ecological insights on the sustainable use of resources. So it is important that the participants and facilitators alike are informed by the relevant knowledge. Institutions also provide assurance for the communities about resource access and rights for exclusion of non-members.

PFM institutions

23There are 41 PFM institutions in the landscape under study. Out of the 32 VSS in the study area, 19 are NWFP based consisting of adivasi members. The remaining 12 are fringe area VSS, consisting mostly of the fringe area population. Thus putting all the VSS and EDC together there is a total number of 15 fringe area PFM institutions and 26 adivasi forest committees in the landscape under consideration. There is a total of 9867 members representing 3765 households. Out of which approximately 32 percent (3125) of the members belong to the adivasi community, 9.25 percent (913) belong to the scheduled caste and the remaining 59 percent of the members are fringe area non adivasi population. Among the member families, about 34 percent are adivasi families. The total area of forestland earmarked for joint management in the LUs studied is about 55 square kilometres (This is only about three percent of the LUs). Out of this, 95 percent (52061 ha) of land are allotted for adivasi VSS and the remaining 5 percent amounting to 2669 ha are allotted for joint management of the non-adivasi fringe area VSSs i.e. the adivasi PFM institutions with only 31 percent of the total PFM population have nearly 95 percent of the PFM land. At present PFM institutions are in the early stages of their establishment to assess their functioning. In many localities, especially in many adivasi settlements, VSS are yet to be formed. Slow take-off and low performance of the PFM is mainly due to inadequate inputs from the KFD in terms of trained manpower. While the legal and policy provisions provide ample opportunities for PFM, negative attitude and unwillingness of the KFD officials stop them being proactive to PFM implementation. KFD as a bureaucratic machinery is yet to consider PFM as their fulltime business resulting an attitude for considering it only as a part-time, obligatory activity like fire line maintenance or thinning operations.

24Consequently the PFM is not given adequate thought and the programmes failed to deliver the promised incentives to the local people. The PFM institutions are to be coordinated by an apex organisation called Forest Development Agency (FDA) formed at forest divisions. It is presumed that gradually the fund disbursal will be through FDA and PFM institutions. So chances of providing more incentives and income earning opportunities for the forest dwelling and forest dependent population may be possible in the years to come. Table 11.3 provides strategies for integrating PFM Institutions in sustainable forest management.

Table 11.3 Incorporating stakeholder interests in forest management-PFM Institutions

Stakeholders Impediments Mitigation measures Integration to
pfm institutions  Institutional structure is inadequate to address variations in local socioeconomic situations and
developing suitable incentive packages
 Inadequate inputs of expertise for
community development and project formulation
 Insufficient policy backup for channelling development aid from various
governmental agencies through
PFM institutions
 Engaging able expertise from
academic or voluntary sector
 Retrain the forest department staff
 Policy reformulation for the approval of
PFM institutions by other governmental agencies
 Publication of
News letters and organisation of
 Representation in forest policy reviews
 Take up NWFP related value addition activities in collaboration with the existing
ST service cooperatives

25Some important points on institutionalisation derived from the above discussions on forest depending communities are provided below:

  • Not all kinds of people are as such amenable to institutional development. An observation at the outset is that institutional initiatives will be successful only among people with a sustainable economy and social capital.
  • Since it is mandatory to bring conservation of natural resources through people’s institutional development, the people in the forests and their fringes have to be made amenable to institutionalisation through strategies of social preparation. It covers what is technically called praxis strategies that help poor people acquire symbolic and cultural forms of capital for the facilitation of the accumulation of social capital.
  • Social preparation is an organised and systematic way of preparing people to be fit to run institutions.
  • Heterogeneity and conflicting interests leave most of the adivasi and non-adivasi population as assortments of people rather than bodies with common goals. The fringe area society is heterogeneous with uneven segments of conflicting interests.
  • Low level of social capital is a major hindrance to institutional development initiatives among the poor and marginalised. Sociologically speaking the local people are in the material milieu of individual earnings through competitive processes. They live the relations of contests and conflicts rather than collaboration and partnership. The qualities such as unity, relations of trust, reciprocity, partnership, common rules, norms and sanctions, interactive networks and groups, etc., often named as social capital, are largely absent.
  • Lack of adequate knowledge in community forestry and social management is a major handicap among the forest officials, especially at the levels from the Range Officers onwards to the several at the top in the KFD. The KFD as a system is far away from PFM vision and hence at every level of the departmental structure, the desired orientation is missing.
  • The KFD is still in the old strategy of forest management based on protection through bureaucracy and policing. The PFM initiative is one of the programmes rather than the new national forests management strategy that is mandatory. Even for those in the upper echelons of power the PFM programme is rather incidental. This has led to incompatibility of functions, duplication of tasks, waste of time and money, unavoidable delay, and inefficiency. The main reason for this predicament seems to be lack of adequate determination at the crest to let the old structure and functions go for the new.
  • The KFD is yet to gain confidence and trust in the abilities (knowledge and experience) of the community. Although KFD knows that its existing force, rules and tools are inadequate to protect the entire forests effectively. The data in the crime register and the number of cases in the Courts vouch for the fact that the level of protection is at very low ebb.
  • The Department is aware that it has no adequate conflict resolution mechanism to resolve the human-wildlife conflict. Conventional ‘solutions’ such as, trenching, barbed wire/power fencing, etc, are not only makeshift, make-belief and exorbitantly prohibitive, but also seem to breed, graft and encourage ‘rent-seeking’. At the same time forest management with social support has produced wonderful results in the areas of eco development initiatives and VSS activity.5 There is
    a marked decline of crimes in such areas.
  • Successful ‘fire protection’ by the community is an excellent case to draw valuable insights into the efficacy of the PFM mode of forest conservation through ‘social fencing.’ The KFD should not be sceptical about the institutional strategy of ‘social fencing, ’ the most effective as well as socio-economically viable alternative.
  • The Problem of NWFP marketing is acute. The adivasi communities organised into EDCs or VSSs are in a state of frustration in the study area. The pre-existing adivasi co-operatives have not been of much help. A rational policy on this subject is essential. Now the licence to collect and sell the NWFPs is sold or auctioned to anybody, even within the area of operation of the EDCs or VSS. Hence, outsiders with vested interests enter the fray, leading to exploitation of the poor and overexploitation of the resource base.
  • There is an urgent need for accelerating co-operation within the KFD on the one side and co-ordination among auxiliary departments that work with development goals at the local level on the other to ensure the successful working of people’s institutions for conservation.
  • Transparency should be strictly enforced in the working of institutions and there should be regular maintenance of monthly reports and statement of accounts.
  • It is important that measures are taken to provide relevant training for and orientation to all the stakeholders.

26The whole process of social preparation may be summarised as in Figure 11.2

The departmental re-orienting

27Despite the completion of all the necessary statutory foregrounding, the Department has not switched over to the participatory paradigm and assumed social preparation for institutional development as its seminal role, as yet. The reorientation may be achieved by a three pronged approach complementing each other. The first one is for effecting attitudinal change; the second is for effecting institutional flexibility the third strategy involves providing considerable autonomy to the landscape administration. The attitudinal change is a process which needs consistent inputs and massive retraining. The institutional flexibility can be achieved partly by restructuring the departmental hierarchy compelling officers of all levels to interact freely facilitating smoother and efficient information flow. This will have to be supplemented with changes in service rules and codes of conduct.

Governmental agencies

  • 6 For a review of the manpower, logistics and the management activities of the KFD see chapt (...)

28Governmental agencies with the status of direct stakeholders are the Departments of forests and wildlife, tribal welfare, irrigation, and agriculture, panchayati raj institutions, and the state electricity board of Kerala. The forest department is the key stakeholder vested with the responsibility of facilitating and co-ordinating the sustainable forest management activities. However, in the existing policy environment, the available manpower and logistics are grossly inadequate for effective management and protection let alone for implementing the envisaged shift to participatory forest management.6

Institutional Development

Institutional Development

Figure 11.2 The social preparation for successful institutionalisation
of the joint management of forests

State electricity boards and public works department

  • 7 Karappara-Kuriyarkutty, Athirappally and Pooyamkutty are these. The former two has been al (...)

29The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), Tamil Nadu Public Works Department (TNPWD) and the Department of Irrigation, Kerala, are responsible for the conception, construction and maintenance of dams, reservoirs, irrigation channels and power transmission networks in the landscape units under consideration. There are five such projects (2 irrigation and 3 power generation projects) in the study area with a total lease area of 6931.13 ha. There are three more hydroelectric projects proposed in the LUs. Out of these, two have already been approved by the central ministry of environment and forests.7 The construction of dams and impoundment of water in large reservoirs reconfigure the landscape. The secondary impacts associated with laying out high tension and extra high-tension power lines and roads, the development of new settler colonies are never accounted for while conceiving such projects by respective agencies. There are no formal platforms for coordinating the interests of the other agencies involved in such projects. For instance, the proposed Pooyamkutty hydroelectric project would submerge valuable reed brakes that are important source of raw materials in the traditional and modern bamboo sectors and newsprint manufacture. Rare riparian forests also will be submerged along with the roads and trek paths isolating some localities of the human habitations. However, the project-affected stakeholders are not consulted while planning the project. Parambikulam – Aliyar project is a hydroelectric power project run by the Tamil Nadu State Electricity Board (TNSEB) on the basis of an interstate agreement between governments of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Including the PAP colony and the reservoir areas at Parambikulam the 25 km2 of land is on a perpetual lease to the TNPWD. Although the project is located inside the sanctuary, there are no provisions in the lease agreement for binding the TNPWD or TNSEB as a contributing party in the affaires of sanctuary management.

30The public works department is responsible for maintaining the road networks. The Chalakudy-Anaimalai road passing through Sholayar-Malakkappara is a state highway that would be considered for realignment and improvement in near future. Similarly, there are demands from various quarters for rebuilding the presently abandoned Aluva-Kuttampuzha-Mankulam-Munnar road. The risks of roads cutting across landscapes and fragmenting the habitats should be minimised with proper valuation of the projects with the experts and in consultation with concerned stakeholders.

Panchayati raj institutions and department of tribal welfare

31Since the 73rd amendment of Constitution and subsequent devolution of power to the local panchayati raj institutions, the Block and Grama panchayats have emerged as an important agencies facilitating local level development. Panchayati raj institutions and the tribal welfare department are involved in the adivasi welfare activities. An amount of Rs.21.98 crores was spent for the implementation of various schemes under Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub-Plan through various Integrated Tribal Development Programmes (ITDP)/Tribal Development Offices (TDO) and by the Director, Scheduled Tribes Development Department in the State during 1985-2000. Category of expenditures varies from agricultural schemes, village and small-scale industries, animal husbandry, minor irrigation, minimum need programme, education, etc. Since these agencies do not address basic issues such as land rights and NWFP market reform their grant in aid programmes have only transient and have superficial effects on the improvement of livelihoods. Welfare schemes conceived by these agencies are rarely discussed among one another and the forest department, producing contradictory results and wasteful expenditure of funds. Functioning of all these agencies can be made more meaningful by coordinating the activities of all the agencies concerned.

32A close examination of the panchayat planning documents of the forest fringe panchayats reveals that KFD is not considered as a partner in planning and implementation of development projects. Whereas the other state agencies such as health, public works, and irrigation departments, figure prominently as partners of the local development programmes. Nevertheless, planning documents highlight potentials of certain locations inside the forests for tourism development. This exclusion of KFD in the panchayat level development planning is a matter of concern since the influences of the forest on the local economy are substantial. Table 11.4 provides an overview of these contradictions and the measures for incorporating their interests in the forest management.

  • 8 GO (MS) 304/74/AD Agri. (planning II) Dept. TVM dt.11/11/74
  • 9 The Orange and Vegetable Farm at Pulayampara was established by a British planter in 1943  (...)

33Very often the management practices adopted in the lease lands within or close to forests have negative impacts on biodiversity. For instance, the use of agrochemicals, especially the pesticides, may contaminate natural ecosystem and it may affect the non-target population of fauna and flora inside the farms as well as in the forests. The harm assumes graver proportions as the safety prescriptions for safe handling and use are rarely observed. Agricultural department has approximately 485.21 ha lease land at Illithodu at Malayattoor forest division. 537.69 ha of forestland was handed over for establishing Illithodu Collective Farm in 1974.8 Out of this 52.48 ha of teak plantation and natural forests in the lease land have been taken back by the forest department in 1980. Similarly, the orange and vegetable farm at Pulayampara, Nelliyampathi (Nemmara division) with an area of 320 ha is under the control of agricultural department.9

34The classic instance of contradictory policies adopted by various governmental agencies is that of Tribal Development Rubber Plantation Programme (TDRPP) and All Kerala Tribal Development Rubber Plantation Programme (AKTDRPP) sponsored by the Scheduled Tribe Development Department in collaboration with the Rubber Board. Financing of these programmes are from the Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub Plan. Objective of the programme was to raise economic status of adivasis while increasing the production of natural rubber. When the programme reaches out to the settlements of the interior adivasi areas, the forest mosaic will be considerably altered with monoculture plantations of rubber. The chances of propagules of rubber and associated intercrop species (some of them have potential for being invasive) escaping and regenerating in the natural forest is a serious concern from the point of view of biodiversity conservation. Application of agrochemicals such as pesticides, and chemical fertilizers in these plantations also has potential negative consequences on the forest and stream ecosystems.

Table 11.4 Incorporating stakeholder interests in forest management-governmental agencies

Stakeholders Impediments Mitigation measures Integration to SFM
Lack of human resource and logistics for effective surveillance and crime prevention
Lack of trained man power to organise participatory activities
Inadequate policy environment for collaborating with other agencies
Inadequate policy backup for effecting landscape level administration
Improve financial and logistical backing by realising adequate rent in cash or kind for forest use by the private and public sector enterprises, through approved channels
Provide retraining opportunities for forest staff in organising collaborative forest management
Initiate discussions on implementing a more integrated and landscape level conservation policy
Empowered committees of revenue and local administration for forest management decision making at landscape level
Platforms for policy reviews and communication organised periodically
Communication and awareness development strategies with educational programmes, news letters, media reach out etc.

Table 11.4 (continued)

Panchayats &
Department of tribal welfare
Lack of coordination with
PFM activities
Lack of awareness on needs of communities in relation to SFM objectives
Lack of awareness on the activities of forest department
Lack of policy compulsions for consulting stakeholders in SFM while project planning and implementation
Chart out complementary development programmes with forest department and PFM institutions
Organise awareness development programmes for the decision makers in collaboration with forest department,
NGOs etc.
Set up separate standing committees on the development needs of forest dependent population / Adivasis with due representation of PFM and forest department
Integrate / Include
Local bodies, tribal development and agricultural departments in the forest management planning and decision making network
Department & Public
Lack of awareness on the importance of watershed services of forests, impacts of watershed degradation on the objectives of power and transportation projects
Lack of policy compulsions for contributing in forest management
Lack of obligation for consulting various stakeholders while planning and commissioning projects
Official mechanism for imparting in-service training on the ecological and geomorphologic sustainability of irrigation and hydro electrical structures
Transparency in project planning, approval, monitoring and mitigation
Mechanism for accounting the rent due to all governmental and non-governmental agencies on the forest land
Coordination mechanism for involving in the watershed protection and for payment of rent to forest development funds
Mechanism for periodic collection and dissemination of all details including spatial aspects of all ongoing projects in side the forest landscape due to all governmental, cooperative and non governmental agencies

Some specific measures for effecting attitudinal change in KFD

35Acquiring wisdom of historical and theoretical context of the regime change in forest is a key aspect in the attitudinal change. Therefore, the following points are stated by way of stressing the need to re-orient the Department:

  • It is indispensable for the circle level decision-making officer (CCF) to be scientifically and social theoretically knowledgeable enough to understand the ecological and human ecological processes that the landscape-zonation addresses in the management plan. A massive retraining programme has to be conducted for facilitating PFM.
  • The success of management depends on the commitment and competence of officers at the secondary and tertiary levels, who should be able to imbibe the academic spirit and sobriety of the socio-ecological approach of conservation management.
  • A regular newsletter (in line with ‘wasteland News’ or ‘JFM update’) in local language as well as in english chronicling the developments in the PFM at national and state level, success stories of partnership should be published and circulated among all the officers

Scheduled tribe service cooperatives

36While the ST Service Cooperatives and the forest-based corporations have been operational for at least three decades, the PFM institutions such as the VSS and EDC are relatively recent additions to the forest management system. There are 41 PFM institutions functioning in and around the forest system. Six ST Service Cooperatives organise procurement of NWFP from the forest tracts. The Kerala State Bamboo Corporation is one of the important consumers of reed resources from the Idamalayar-Pooyamkutty valleys and the Plantation Corporation of Kerala has commercial plantations of cashew, oil palm etc. in the forest lands under perpetual lease at various locations in the Chalakudy, Vazhachal and, Malayattoor divisions. See table 11.5 for strategies if incorporating cooperatives in the sustainable forest management (For a detailed discussion of the activities of ST Service Cooperatives, PFM institutions and KSBC see sections, chapter 7).

Table 11.5 Incorporating stakeholder interests in forest management-ST service cooperatives and Federation

Stakeholders Impediments Mitigation measures Integration to SFM
ST service cooperatives &
Lack of entrepreneurship in organising collection and marketing
Lack of concern over the sustainability of resource base
Lack of accountability to SFM objectives and contribution to forest management efforts
Lack participation of members in decision making
Lack of initiatives for welfare of members
Change the role of cooperatives and federation to facilitator in
NWFP marketing and value addition by integrating with
PFM institutions
Training the existing staff and hiring additional skilled hands
Training the members in sustainable harvesting
Set up fair price shops for NWFP collectors
Publication of the summary of accounts and committee decisions in PFM periodicals
Rent payment
Representation in the forest management planning and implementation; policy review committees.


37Plantation Corporation Kerala Ltd. (PCK) is an agency formed in 1962 for establishing commercial plantations in forestlands and revenue lands. This agency functioning under the state agriculture department had ambitious plans for expansion. The capital for venture was raised from the sale of clearfelled timber from the plantation sites (Chundamannil, 1993). At present, PCK has plantations of cashew, oil palm and rubber. spread over an area exceeding 11700 ha in the state. In the study area, PCK has lease lands in Malayattoor, Vazhachal and Chalakudy divisions totalling 4107.40 ha Inadequacy of each of these organisations in meeting the SFM objectives and their possible means of mitigation are provided in the Table 11. 6.

Table 11.6 Incorporating stakeholder interests in forest management-Forest based corporations

Stakeholders Impediments Mitigation measures Integration to SFM
State plantation corporation &
Forest development
Lack of representation in
SFM planning and implementation
Lack of obligation in informing forest managers on the change in land use practices
Periodic appraisal of the activities in the lease holders platform Representation through lease holders and SFM planning and implementation committees
Kerala State
Lack of financial sustainability
Lack of strategic planning and communication to forest management on the resource extraction and management
Lack of direct contribution on the
Commissioning internal or external consultative study on all aspects of reed management, product and brand development and marketing
Revision and payment of rent
Liaisoning with PFM institutions for resource extraction, regeneration and management

Industrial agencies

38Among the industrial and business concerns that have direct bearing on the management of the forest area are HNL, Ayurvedic Medicine Manufacturing Units (AMMUs), private suppliers of ayurvedic raw drugs, and tourism and entertainment industries. Presently HNL is the largest reed consumer in the state. Thirty percent of the annual collection of reed by HNL is from the Idamalayar and Pooyamkutty valleys. The reed is extracted through a third party contracting system and the industry is not responsible for management or regeneration of resources other than a concessional rent and Forest Development Tax paid to the state treasury (for a detailed discussion of the resource use by HNL see chapter 7).

39Currently there is no partnership or benefit-sharing arrangements exist between forest department and industries. Similarly, any such arrangements are lacking in the case of the corporate commercial plantations, AMMUs and the private vendors, traders of ayurvedic raw drugs and the tourism industries. There are 750 registered and about 1000 unregistered AMMUs in Kerala. Only 31.8 percent of their annual requirement of raw drug material is met through the marketing channel controlled by the ST cooperatives and the remaining requirement is met from the private suppliers. All these commercial enterprises maximise their profit from forests though their contribution to the management of forests is nil. Table 11.7 provides an overview of the interests of industrial and business agencies in forest management and measures that may be taken for incorporating them.

Table 11.7 Incorporating stakeholder interests in forest management-Industrial agencies

Stakeholders Impediments Mitigation measures Integration to SFM
Newsprints Ltd
Lack of obligation in sustainability of the resource base
Lack of communication and representation in the
SFM planning and implementation
Lack of long term strategy for reed resource management
Periodic Revision of rent and assurance of rent payment
Partnership with forest department in sustainable extraction and utilisation of resource
Commissioning internal or external consultative study on aspects of reed management, and availability of raw materials
Liaisoning with PFM institutions for resource regeneration and management
Representation in SFM planning and implementation
Corporate commercial plantations Lack of representation in any forest management planning Representation and partnership in SFM Representation through partnerships through
PFM institutions
Private /
Network of trading the raw drug / forest produce
No representation and legal sanction for operation
No concern on sustainability of resource base
Competing with
PFM, ST cooperative in the marketing of
Provide legal sanction to operate for selected items in partnership with
PFM institutions and ST service cooperative and
Representation in SFM through NWFP management

Table 11.7 (continued)

No representation in
Forest Management
No sustainability concern over the resource base
Legal measures for biodiversity cess payment in the absence of visible partnership with
pfm-st cooperatives in regeneration / domestication efforts
Representation and partnership in SFM
Tourism and entertainment industries, Water theme Parks No representation in
Forest Management
No sustainability concern over the resource base
Legal measures for natural resource cess payment in the absence of visible partnership Representation and partnership in SFM

Teaching and research institutions

40Although the stakes of local educational, research and development institutions on SFM are very high, they are not part of any of the formal management strategies of the forest department. Students of the local institutions could be effectively engaged for cataloguing and documenting the biodiversity and monitoring the resource extraction.

41The Research and Development (R & D institutions such as Kerala Forest Research Institute and Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute have strong stakes on the forests of the State. These agencies were also involved in assessing the potential impacts and suggesting mitigation measures of hydroelectric projects proposed in the area. Possible mechanism for integrating the local educational and R and D institutions is provided in Table 11.8.

Seasonal visitors

42There are two kinds of seasonal visitors to the landscape units tourists and pilgrims. A number of locations in the landscape have features that would attract tourists. Tourism offers opportunities as well as constraints to sustainable management. Local people would derive good incentives for conservation provided a suitable participatory visitor management strategy is implemented. In its absence, tourism may prove detrimental to biodiversity conservation. Parambikulam wildlife sanctuary, Nelliyampathi plantation area, Chimmony wildlife sanctuary, Athirappilly-Vazhachal waterfalls, Malakkappara plantation area, Kodanadu, Thattekkad, Bhoothathankettu, etc. attract a large number of visitors. Plantation tourism is being promoted in a big way in the Nelliyampathi as a strategy to tide over the slump in the tea and coffee markets. Studies show that the willingness to pay by the domestic tourists has increased over the past decades. There is an indication of increased tourism pressure in most of these localities. At present, the forest department in liaison with the VSS is mobilising tourism promotion at Parambikulam, Chimmony, Vazhachal, Athirappilly and Malayattoor divisions. However, in most localities except at Athirappilly, the arrangements for visitor management are inadequate due to the paucity of trained manpower and infrastructure.

Table 11.8 Incorporating stakeholder interests in forest management-Teaching and Research-institutions

Stakeholders Impediments Mitigation measures Integration to SFM
Academic institutions, at
College and
University levels
 No representation in
Forest Management
 No policy level obligations for developing familiarity with natural ecosystems
 Training and
Environment educational requirements are not adequately met
 Educational policy for
with natural
 Partnerships with local
 Partnerships for monitoring and evaluation of biodiversity and resources
 Integration with
SFM network
 Nature camps, trails, participatory documentation and monitoring
 Networking for capacity building
R & D
Institutions (Private and
 No direct representation in
Forest Management and policy formulation
 No obligation for communicating the
R & D information to the agencies and communities even if they have formed
part of R & D efforts
 Representation in Forest
Management decision
 Legal obligetions for
sharing the
and benefits with managers and communities if they
are party to
R & D efforts
 Representation in forest management planning and

43In most localities, pilgrim management is a troublesome affair due to the large-scale influx of them who are less amenable to control. The pilgrimage to the Kurisumudi located in the reserve forest area at Malayattoor division attracts an estimated 15 lakh devotees annually. Presently, the forest department does not have any pilgrim management strategy.

Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs)

44The stakes of the NGOs and other professional bodies and associations vary according to the nature of their organisation and interests. Many environmental NGOs in the state have shown keen interest in the wider issues relating to the protection of forests. The Chalakudy River Protection Committee has organised studies for documenting the biological and ecological wealth of the riparian ecology of the Chalakudy river basin and have organised campaigns demanding reconsideration of the proposed hydroelectric projects. A Chalakudy based Agency for Voluntary Action and Rural Development (AVARD) has taken up adivasi welfare activities with financial aid from various governmental agencies. The Nelliyampathi Planters Association, United Planters Association of South India and the Plantation Workers Associations at Nelliyampathi, Malakkappara and Chalakudy form another set of stakeholders whose potential and interests in participation is not represented in the present forest management. Table 11.9 provides an overview of the measures that may be taken for incorporating the stakeholder interests in management of landscape units.

Stakeholder management

45One of the inherent drawbacks of the forest-working/management plans is that they fail to internalise some of the obvious social factors. These plans are prepared for a period of 10 years and there are hardly any provisions for addressing the market fluctuations and social transformations. For instance, it is known that the changing local and global markets influence the patterning of landuse and these changes are more powerful and faster in recent past. However, plan documents are rarely informed and influenced by these aspects. A closer examination of management plans give us the impression that it is addressing a static ecology, economy and society and is thus grossly inadequate to adapt to the changing synergy. As a result, these planning documents, by and large redundant, act as a hurdle in the path of an innovative and adaptive administrator. In order to cope up with the ecological and socio-economic challenges, the plan documents should have a provision for revision. This could be in the form of provisions for periodical interim review of the management prescriptions and for interim stakeholder meetings. In order to facilitate efficient inter-organisational communication new platforms of joint bodies and communities have to be legally constituted.

Table 11.9 Incorporating stakeholder interests in forest management-NGOs and seasonal visitors

Stakeholders Impediments Mitigation measures Integration to SFM
Religious groups & Tourists  Total lack of coordination and partnership  Increased control and mitigation
through local voluntary groups
 Conventional strategies such as education and awareness through campaigns and visit to interpretation centres
NGOs Developmental, Environmental and
Human rights
Organisations, professional bodies associations etc.
 Inadequately represented  More representational rights  Representational rights in the public hearings on
EIAs and Policy formulations.


46Having reviewed the state of affairs and postulated what ought to be the strategies and activities; it is quite relevant to recognise the theoretical truth that integration of stakeholders’ interests is a contradiction in terms since it amounts to harmonising the incompatible. Often the task is undertaken either with little or no awareness about the fact that it would result at best only in the accomplishment of a coalition of conflicting interests. Such a coalition though appears to be democratic and participatory, is inevitably structured by the dominance of the elite, industry and market over the poor and marginalised who constitute the key-stakeholders or the most affected by the landscape policy of natural resource management. It is a scenario of competing claims and multiple stakes but with the predetermined consequence of privileging and prioritising of the needs of the dominant, all due to the glaring power imbalance amongst the contesters.

47The most popular institutional mechanism widely discussed and applied is the participatory local bodies of the forest and fringe peoples, often constituted with the twin objectives of biodiversity conservation and livelihood improvement. Nevertheless, participation in the sense of the influential participation of the weakest is easier said than realised, for even the adivasi people in the forests are not altogether amenable to institutionalisation either because of their being economically differentiated and socially heterogeneous or their being an assortment of proletarianised and urbanised individuals. In both the cases they fail to come together with common goals and collective responsibilities, the former due to socio-cultural exclusiveness and the latter due to the solipsistic mindset of the self-seeking wageworker. Seldom do any socio-culturally contingent traditional factors survive as to bind the adivasis together as an integrated entity. The new alternative binding values and passions such as biodiversity conservation, common property consciousness, sustainable development, grassroot democracy and so on hardly ever inspire them. The question of livelihood improvement is also an equally tangled one due to the micro as well as macro economic processes of incorporation, subordination and subjection of the poor involving exploitative relations, institutions and structures. Serious traps of debt and exploitative tenures regularly alienate assets of adivasis, and sometimes even subject them as underpaid labourers in their own land. The forest department as well as the various line departments with converging goals and activities have to go a long way reconstituting themselves as facilitators of people-centred and empowerment oriented programmes to make participatory forest management a reality.


1 Esprit de corps is regard for the honour and interests of the body to which one belongs. This team spirit in case of forest staff has been forging an attitude of policing of forests with a gaze on the local users of forests as intruders and potential violators.

2 See Annex 11.1 for various agencies belonging to each group, nature of their dependency on the forest, their possible impacts on the forests, rights regime, current representation in the forest management and the possible strategy for integrating the interests and values to sustainable forest management.

3 Figure 6.1 provides locations of adivasi colonies, non-adivasi enclaves and major forest fringing localities in the LUs. The nature of their dependency, rights, possible impacts on the forests, representation in the forest management, and feasible strategy for integrating the interests and values in sustainable forest management are summarised in the Table 11.2. A more detailed discussion of these categories of stakeholders is already made in the chapter 6.

4 Approximate number of labourers and their dependents resident in the plantation area is estimated to a population to the tune of 11500 individuals.

5 See ‘PTR Fringe Area Study, ’ IEDP. School of Social Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University, 2001. Also ‘Process Documentation Research on VSSs of PTR, ’ IEDP. School of Social Sciences. 2002. For the effectiveness of social fencing through VSS, see case illustrations of Elappeedika and Mathilerithattu.

6 For a review of the manpower, logistics and the management activities of the KFD see chapter-8

7 Karappara-Kuriyarkutty, Athirappally and Pooyamkutty are these. The former two has been already given environmental clearance.

8 GO (MS) 304/74/AD Agri. (planning II) Dept. TVM dt.11/11/74

9 The Orange and Vegetable Farm at Pulayampara was established by a British planter in 1943 originally 425 ha. was under cultivation. Out of this approximately 320 ha was later retrieved and now being managed by the State Agriculture Department.

Table des illustrations

Légende Figure 11.1 Categories of Stakeholders
Fichier image/jpeg, 40k
Titre Institutional Development
Légende Figure 11.2 The social preparation for successful institutionalisationof the joint management of forests
Fichier image/jpeg, 39k


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