SN Tripathi Memorial Lectures (2011)…

'Himalayas are Seismically Active...'
Shri Chandi Prasad Bhah

Community Mobilization tor Environment Conservation- the lessons from Chipko Andolan

Dasholi Gram Swarajya Mandai (DGSM) is the parent institution of the Chipko movement (Hugging the Trees), a non-violent methodology to safeguard the forest from being felled. Since past three decades we have actively been working for rejuvenating the denuded slopes in the Upper Alaknanda basin through eco-development camps involving the local community participation particularly women and youth.

Conduct of public campaign against environmental destruction by organizing eco development camps. Village women, peoples' organisations, social activists, students and youth participate enthusiastically in environmental conservation and education work.It has given a practical shape to its concepts of economic and ecologicaldevelopment by mobilizing the villagers, particularly the women in far-flung and inaccessible villages.

The forest rejuvenation in the upper Alaknanda valley has significantly covered the degraded and barren slopes, leading to steady control of soil erosion and landslides in the extremely sensitive area. Recently a remote sensing study completed by the Space Application Centre, Ahamdabad,India has revealed an unprecedented improvement in the terrain and bio-resource status in the areas where DGSM has been working for afforestation and eco­ development.

A People's Information & Assistance Centre has been started with an objective of bringing together various agencies, such as Mahila Mangal Dais (Women'organisations),Yuvak Mangal Dais (youth groups), Van Panchyats (Forest Councils), Social Alaknanda Valley- After regreening workers and organisations, Government of the Barren Slopes (2003) Organisations involved in Development and administration etc., to deliberate upon local problems related to development and administration and collectively seek their solutions.

An independent assessment conducted by the Space Application Center using satellite data show the following.
1. The project area of has shown remarkable improvement in landuse/ Landcover. Out of 6224 ha of forest loss between 1959-1969, nearly 50% (2664ha) has regained through community afforestation drive.
2. Overall forest statistic indicate that the project area has forest cover more than 60% which is fairly good considering the state of forest in other areas.
3. The watersheds, which were reeling under biomass scarcity before the initiation of eco-development camps, have now surplus biomass, which has significantly contributed the economic prosperity of the project villages.
4. In the watersheds of Nagolgad, Amritganga, Kalpganga and Menagad (Chamoli) the total vegetation has been found to cover 31901 ha in 1972 which has increased to 33755 ha in 1991 suggesting the 5.8 forest improvement in 20 years.
5. Maximum vegetation gain of 4396 ha was found between the period of 1982-1991.Total vegetation gain of 5113 ha has been found from the period of 1972 to 1991.