Dirang forests declared as community conserved area

Our correspondent
Itanagar, April 24: The Mandala Phudung panchayat in West Kameng district has declared around 114- sq km of key wildlife habitat, which is traditional grazing grounds and community forests (with different species of non-timber forest products and medicinal plants), as a Community Conserved Area (CCA), according to a WWF-India release. The declaration was made on Sunday with the consensus of the community members of four villages as well as their panchayat members. Its aim is to strengthen the community forest management and augment local livelihoods in the villages under its jurisdiction. “The panchayat also selected key leaders of the villages to form a management committee to look after various management components of the CCA, including conducting periodic surveys and patrolling to ensure knowledge-building and protection of the species,” Western Arunachal landscape coordinator of WWF-India Kamal Medhi said. The management committee will also undertake a detailed livelihood assessment to draft a strategy to implement livelihood activities to support conservation efforts in the near future.
The CCA model was first introduced by the WWF-India in 2004 and has spread to different villages to ensure community-based natural resource management regime in the western part of Arunachal Pradesh.
WWF-India has been extending support to the community of Phudung, Dungmanba, Menchang and Khellong villages to clarify the concept of CCA and facilitate a participatory process to come up with an area for future conservation.
The forests of Mandala Phudung are a treasure house of plants with medicinal properties, rhododendrons and different fauna with the highest conservation interest.
The CCA covers biodiversity-rich forests stretching up to the India-Bhutan boundary and connects the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary of Bhutan. It forms a key habitat for species like red panda, Asiatic black-bear, Asiatic wild dog, alpine musk deer etc.
 Mandala top and its surrounding areas such as Naga GG and Phudung are also designated as the emerging birding destinations of the State.
These forests also act as water catchment of many stream sources, including the main river known as Tongchudar, which is also the lifeline of Mandala Phudung and other villages situated downstream, the release added.