BRT Tiger Reserve

Understanding and engaging with Soliga community interactions with their forests and forest produce markets, and learning how BRT forest tree communities themselves evolve over time.


Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE

The indigenous tribal communities have been living in the forest areas for centuries and practicing unique culture, tradition and language. Every Adivasi community have an association with their own language and literature. Soliga, known as people of the bamboo is one of the oldest tribes in the country with its origin tracing back thousands of years. They live in and around the forests of Chamarajanagara district in BR Hills, MM Hills, Cauvery WLS, Bandipur and Kodagu in Karnataka state. They have had a continuous and intimate relationship with the forests. Soliga had historically lived in harmony with nature practicing sustainable living and respecting all forms of life. All aspects of their life from birth, marriage, rituals, festivals, and songs are linked to the forests. They speak Soliga Nudi (language) which is closely related to Kannada.
The Soligas have two sub groups that speak Soliga language and they have seven clans. Five clans of Soligas in BR Hills speak their own Soliga language and Soligas in other parts of Karnataka speak Kannada as their language. Both the sub groups do not have their own script and those who live in Tami Nadu use Tamil script for writing, likewise those who live in Karnataka use Kannada as script. Soliga language and literature are inherited from their ancestors.
The Soliga language and literature has generated through the forest, wildlife, traditional rituals. The language of the Soligas have been kept alive by transferring across generations. Soliga language and literature are linked to their traditional events like harvest festival, and their association with livelihood, forest, animals, birds, trees, rain, agriculture, wildlife and forest ecosystems. The conservation knowledge is built within their songs and stories of folklore.
Keywords: Soliga, Language, Literature, Folklore, Culture, Wildlife, Forest

Sachin M H, Dayanandan, S. Ganesan R.

Although negative conspecific density dependent survival, recruitment is considered as one of the main drivers of the assembly of tropical rainforest tree communities, the density dependent survival and growth patterns of tropical woody plants in drier habitats remain relatively less explored. To determine the influence of density-dependent assembly we analysed the data woody plant abundance and distribution in ten 1-ha plots, in the BRT TR. We measured DBH and survival and regeneration at five-year intervals from 2002 through 2016. Neighbourhood densities were calculated by summing the basal area of all conspecific and heterospecific neighbours attaining above 1 cm DBH within 5 and 10m radius around the focal individual. We used generalized linear mixed-effects models with binomial errors to determine the neighbourhood effects on individual survival and growth. The impacts of shrub density on sapling survival varied from negative during 2002-07 and 2007-11 to positive during 2011-17 term. Density of conspecific tree neighbours had a significant negative impact on sapling incremental growth at all census intervals. Overall our results reveal a significant impact of tree conspecific neighbour density and shrub density on sapling growth and survival respectively. The strength of conspecific sapling and shrub neighbour density play a more prominent role in shaping relative species abundances in the dry forests of BRT. The species level knowledge of neighbourhood density dependent saplings survival and growth can be applied in restoration of degraded forests at BRT and similar such dry forests in India.

Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE

The Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) provide livelihood to millions of forest dwelling communities. Soligas, the indigenous community in Western Ghats earns 30-40% cash income from NTFPs. ATREE has been working on enterprise-based conservation models from past 25 years to bring livelihood security and achieve conservation goals. This paper speaks about experiences and challenges of implementing enterprise-based conservation models through participation of local NGOs and decentralized NTFPs processing units through community participation with tenure under Forest Right Act and without tenure under wildlife protection act.
Enhancing incomes from the sustainable harvest of NTFPs can help maintain local livelihoods and provide economic incentives for the conservation. Some of our studies indicated that tenure play an important role in terms of bringing community participation in conservation, sustainable use of forest resources and helps to establish sustainable business models. Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006 was used to empower the forest dependent communities with rights to access forests for their wellbeing. Our work has facilitated the provisioning of forest rights to 77 Gram Sabhas that includes 83 villages, 5433 families with 21,732 members. These two accomplishments are important milestones under protected area regime.
ATREE implemented decentralized enterprise-based conservation models with respect to Non-timber forest products and agricultural products that led to an income generation of Rs. 5.4 Lakhs to tribal community during 1997-2000. The income was distributed within the community as an incentive for sustainable use and monitoring forest resources. Later, additional three decentralized processing units were established in 2017 and their annual turnover is around 10 Lakhs. We found more ownership, inclusive participation with the decentralised processing units compared to the processing units that was associated with local NGO.
Keywords: Soligas, NTFPs, Value addition, processing, BRT

Soumya Kori Veeranna1, 2, Siddappa Setty1 and Charlie Shackleton2

1Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE

2Rhodes University

The Western Ghats of India is famous for its high biodiversity and spiritual significance. Pilgrims travel from all over India to visit several popular Hindu temples across various protected areas. The pilgrims visiting temples of three pilgrim centers/ protected areas of the southern Western Ghats offer gum-resin from Boswellia serrata before getting a glimpse of the deities. The powdered gum-resin (locally called dhoopa) is sprinkled on hot charcoal to emit aromatic incense, which is used as an offering. Today this gum-resin is sold in the temple markets of three selected study sites in three protected areas. This study sought to identify gum-resin value chain actors, their roles, and perceptions of temple markets among these actors. Focus group discussions with nearly 200 gum-resin harvesters and about 250 individual surveys with the value chain actors were conducted to identify the challenges they face and suggestions they have to improve the gum-resin market. In this study, an attempt is also made to understand the perception of different categories of consumers, their socio-economic characteristics, and their spiritual link with the product through interviews with 90 consumers. The results revealed different market dynamics at the three sites, emphasizing the need for local studies and understandings. However, generally, the harvesters played a limited role in the value chain. Furthermore, this study can help gum-resin harvesters and sellers design more targeted gum-resin market strategies and improve markups. The study further helps understand the kind of consumer demand that exists for gum-resin and how a harvester can directly benefit from gum-resin markets. Core consideration of this study relates to the re-establishment of a buying or marketing agency to provide a more significant and fairer share of the value to the local harvesters.

Siddappa Setty R, Madegowda C and Lakshmi S

Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE

India is the sixth largest producer of coffee and it is one of the most widely traded agricultural commodities in the world. 25 million coffee farmers in the developing countries are mostly smallā€scale producers. Clearly the production of coffee has a significant impact on the economic development of the producing areas and their environment. Soligas who used to do shifting cultivation and hunting before wildlife protection act have started settled agriculture with traditional crops like millets, beans, tubers and banana etc. Due to increase in human wildlife conflicts and to earn cash income, 651 Soligas have started growing coffee. Most of these Soliga coffee farmers have received cultivation rights under Forest Rights Act. As BRHills is one of the most eco-sensitive hotspots, ATREE is encouraging sustainable & ecofriendly coffee farming and is also enhancing the livelihood by facilitating organic/rainforest alliances certification.
Baseline survey was conducted with 76 farmers in 2020. Results indicated that average landholding as 1.95 acre, 87% of the farmers in BRT cultivate coffee, study indicated that farmers have limited knowledge on pest and disease. The farmers felt that they require training on composting, pest and disease control, yield enhancement, pre and post-harvest techniques, marketing, and soil and conservation etc. In 2020 seven webinars and six village level trainings were organised, 337 coffee farmers participated. With the help of Rainforest Alliances we have trained 17 lead farmers, who have spent 107 days with 451 coffee growing farmers to provide training on good agriculture practices. The coffee beans were assessed to be of fair- average quality with potential to get organic certification although they reported a moisture content of 14%. FBO has been constituted, they facilitated the sale of 149 tons of coffee at the rate of Rs. 190 per kg in 2021, that amounts to Rs. 84,097 per household.