Workshop on Capacity Building of Biodiversity Management Committees for People’s Biodiversity Register documentation and ABS

12 Feb, 2019

The Central Himalayan Environment Association (CHEA) and the Almora Forest Division, with support of GIZ and Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board, organised a one-day workshop, on 12th February 2019, on Capacity Building of Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) at Van Chetna Kendra (Mrigvihar), Almora, Uttarakhand. The objective of the workshop was to enable the constituted BMCs to document their respective Peoples Biodiversity Register (PBR) and to understand the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) mechanism at large.

The workshop was attended by the newly formed BMC members of village panchayats of Dhaspad and Dodam-Pololi under the ABS partnership project, GIZ. The heads (sarpanchs) of the Village Forest Council (Van Panchayat) from the villages of Almora, and representatives of the Almora Forest Division, involved in BMCs formation and operation, participated in the workshop. The Range Forest Officers (RFO), knowledge partners of CHEA (e.g. Ecociates, Noida) also attended the workshop to understand the expectations of BMCs and Van Panchayats from BMCs. A total of 40 participants of BMCs, Van Panchayats and Forest department contributed to the workshop.

During the workshop, various aspects of BMCs, PBR and ABS were discussed using the ‘ABS Simply Explained’ film (Hindi), presentations and charts etc. Group exercises played a vital role in ensuring active engagement of all participants and for developing their understanding on the subject. During the open house session, issues related to BMCs, Van Panchayat, role of Van Panchayat after formation of BMC, coherence in the implementation of activities, were discussed. The panel included Mr. Dinakar Joshi (RFO), Dr. Pankaj Tewari and Mr. Kundan Bisht (CHEA), Mr. Anil Kumar Joshi (GIZ), who facilitated the participant’s questions on BMC, PBR, ABS and the role of various groups existing at village level. Topics related to wild animal conflict and crop destruction, climate change, depletion of natural resources were also discussed. The forest department employees were interested to learn about resources like Myrica under Biodiversity Act. They also wanted to know about the “levy fee” process on natural resources levied by BMCs.

The workshop was successful in achieving the objectives, providing clarity on BD Act provisions and the concepts of bio-resources and biodiversity. The participants showed greater interest in maintaining the resource pool at their villages. The process on documentation of PBRs intrigued their interest in data collection and understanding of bio-resources. On the issue of benefit sharing, the participants agreed that income generation and conservation of the resources should be in consonance with the availability of resources in respective areas. The members from pilot BMCs of Dhaspad and Dodam enquired about backward and forward linkages of bio-resources (especially herbs) traded from their areas, they also stated requirements for strengthening their enterprise. The BMCs required equipment, training of production, and enterprise development. The members of four Van Panchayats also expressed interest to form BMCs in their villages and requested the Forest department to facilitate the process. In the discussions, CHEA and the Almora forest division agreed on documenting two PBRs in pilot villages initiated by GIZ.

The workshop helped in bringing forth new ideas on roles and responsibilities of BMCs and an understanding on conservation and sustainability. The pilot BMCs were motivated to contribute for bringing in good practices in their functioning. As a future course of action, CHEA talked about documenting two PBRs. Further discussion with the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board planned on focusing on conservation and on sensitising people.