In continuation of the last visit to Gondia district of Maharashtra in May 19 (Exploratory Field Visit: CFR and Non-CFR Areas in Sadak Arjuni ), the focus of the current field visit in June 19 was to study the impact of Community Forest Rights on wildlife habitat by analyzing the effects of settlements on local forests by communities with titles and communities without titles. The selected sample consists of 127 villages (including 54 CFR and 73 Non-CFR villages) in the Sadak Arjuni and Deori block of Gondia division in Maharashtra.
For this purpose, a team comprising of 15 interns was formed whose primary task was to mark the forest used boundaries and CFR boundaries for their respective sample villages. To get them acclimatized with the basic concepts, the ISB team organized a rigorous 3-day training & learning sessions in Kurkheda.
-The in-class training consisted of sessions on- background about the study, types of CFR areas, possible challenges and ways of overcoming them, approaching local villages, etc.
-The field training included specialized sessions on GPS use and tracking. After the interns were confident in handling the GPS, practice sessions in the form of minor exercises were undertaken which included tracking of small patches of the forest.
The interns were then divided into seven teams consisting of two members each, and mapping began from the non-CFR villages in the Sadak Arjuni block. Each team was given the task of mapping ten villages from the nearby vicinity. The field visit was designed in such a way that the interns had to visit the respective villages allocated to the team, meet the local people of the village and convince them to show around the forest area used by the villagers for their personal or commercial use. However, contrary to the NON-CFR village mapping, the process of mapping the CFR village was a little different. In the CFR villages, CFR was granted to several compartments in the forest. Hence, the teams were asked to map these compartments where the CFR had been granted. They used the village map and the CFR title sheet to validate the CFR area polygon shown by the villagers.
It took approximately one day for a team to map one village. Given this speed, teams were efficiently able to cover seven villages in one single day. Post mapping, the raw data was then converted into a polygon. To be through, the interns used to further crosscheck these polygons with the villagers to capture any missed information or identify an incorrectly mapped area. Till date mapping of approximately 99 villages including both CFR and Non-CFR forest areas has been completed. The work for the remaining villages is in progress.
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