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Rural community participation and its socioeconomic development through forest management--a case study, Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, India.

1. Introduction

Invasive alien species are considered as significant drivers of environmental change worldwide (Sala et al., 2000; Mc Neely et al., 2001).In the early 1970s, concern about deforestation caused by fuel wood shortages, prompt introduction of Prosopis juliflora (Sw.) DC, was done in many areas because it is an esteemed fuel wood source and is also valued for the shade, wood and forage it provides (Ffolliot and Thames 1983). Initially it was introduced in small patches of KNP but gradually it got spread over the entire park and became serious threats to the biodiversity of park as a mature tree produces 630,000 to 980,000 seeds per year (Felker, 1979). After realizing its threats to the biodiversity of park, a management plan was chalked out to eradicate this alien species with the help of local community. Prosopis juliflora invasion in the study area has recently attracted national attention and positive responses from responsible agencies. Unlike some other parts of India and the world where it has been introduced, Prosopis juliflora has invaded, and continues to invade, millions of hectares of rangeland in South Africa, East Africa, Australia and coastal Asia (Pasiecznik, 1999). In 2004 it was rated as one of the world's top 100 least wanted species by Invasive Species Specialist Group of the IUCN.. The field work for this study of livelihoods was undertaken in conjunction with a parallel ecological study of the Prosopis juliflora invasion and its impacts (Andersson, 2005).

2. Material and methods

2.1. Study Area

Keoladeo National Park is located in the eastern Rajasthan. It is 2 km south-east of Bharatpur town and 50 km west of Agra. It lies at the edge of the Gangetic plain (27[degrees]07'-27[degrees]12' N, 77[degrees]29'-77[degrees]33' E). The total area of the park is 2,873 ha which is surrounded by 16 villages. Park has divided into several blocks by small dykes (Figure 1).

2.2. Prosopis juliflora Eradication Programme (PJE Programme)

Prosopis juliflora eradication programme was started in Keoldaeo National Park in February 2007 with the active participation of Eco-Development Committees (EDC). The EDC members were grouped family wise and each family was allotted a 10 x100 m. plot. Approximately 4490 members of 1435 families had removed 230.84 metric ton quintals of wood from the park and consequently 1027.87 hectares of area was cleared.

2.3. Socioeconomic impact assessment

In order to achieve the objectives of the study, five villages were selected for the socioeconomic survey. A semi-structured interview was administered of randomly selected individuals of different age, occupation, and wealth categories. The selected villagers were the members of an EDC. From each household, family head was interviewed using semi-structured questionnaires. These villages were selected on the basis of their active participation in Prosopis juliflora eradication programme.

3. Results

A total of 100 individuals of different age groups were interviewed in the five villages of Aghapur, Barso, Jatoli, Malah and Ram Nagar. The majority (81 %) identified themselves as farmers; about 12 % identified themselves as both farmers and worker; 7% as traders/businessmen. The estimated literacy rate was 79 %; most (42 %) were educated to the primary level, i.e., standards 6-8, while a large proportion (21 %) was found illiterate. The mean annual cash income of 56 % respondent was US$ [bar.X]=583.4 [+ or -] 97.40. Local perception and participation of the local community in this programme was assessed and it was found that about 95 % of the members of eco-development committees participated actively and 53 % collected about [bar.X]=58.72 [+ or -] .683 metric ton wood, while 43 % villagers collected up to [bar.X]=106.13 [+ or -] .10 metric ton of wood from the park. 23 % respondents admitted that they reconstructed their mud houses to the cement houses (Figure 2). 43 % respondents used the money for paying installments of loan. Figure 3 indicates the status of loan and other borrowing before and after PJE programme. It was also recorded that before this programme, 62 % villagers had fuel wood stock up to .2 metric tons while after this programme, 89 % of respondents admitted that they had fuel wood stock up to .5 metric ton , and 79 % of respondents admitted that they are still using fuel wood for cooking food (Figure 4).

Hence this could be the reason for the respondents who were regularly collecting the fuel wood. It was found that only 14 % had switched over from fuel wood to Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) for cooking food. Local community involvement in protected area management is a very important issue for various reasons including the protection of natural resources and ecotourism. Therefore it was an important objective of the present study to know the level of participation in PJE Programme and park management. Local perception and participation of the local community in PJE programme was assessed and it was found that about 95 % of the members of EDC participated actively. Observations of the respondents (Figures 2 to 4) indicated that the local community has benefited in many ways and made long term impacts on their socioeconomic conditions.

3.1. Conservation perception and attitude of local community

Community participation is a key factor for achieving success in management of any protected area; hence it is very important to assess the opinion of local community members towards their relationship with the protected area. In the present study, attitude of respondent's towards KNP were found varied in the range of agree, disagree and neutral responses (Table 1). Cihar and Stankova (2006) reported that the resident had no real participation in the process of planning and decision making of Podyji National Park in Czech Republic.

Community responded positively in respect to the perception of KNP. Some of them (70 %) admitted that they had benefited because they are living close to the park and because of that, they participated in PJE programme. A large proportion of respondents answered that park staff frequently meets and interacted well (60 %). A higher proportion (87 %) agreed that they should involve in any community development programme offered by park management. After PJE programme, perception of socioeconomic development has changed and more (91%) respondent had admitted that after this participatory programme their living standard have increased. Opinions on wildlife population trend also sought and mixed responses were recorded. The victims of the crop damage by wild animals were more likely to agree that the population of wild animals is increasing (44 %).

4. Discussion

Community involvement in protected area management has been recognized as a key component in management plans to achieve conservation goals. Traditionally, indigenous and local communities are restricted from extracting resources from protected areas, especially national parks. This has resulted in the marginalization and displacement among the people (Wells and Brandon, 1992). Hence, in Prosopis juliflora eradication programme, local community was involved to provide them economic benefits which resulted in the form of positive change in the attitude of local community towards the park. Improved household income has shown positive influence on community attitude in similar study from Tanzania (Newmark et al., 1993). It was also necessary to involve the people from local community because of strict wildlife protection act of India. Sometimes park management keeps local community people out from the decision making process, keeping in mind that human activities are incompatible with ecosystem conservation (Wells and McShane, 2004).

Purpose of this study was to determine the socioeconomic impact of PJEP on the local community living around the Keoladeo National Park. Van der Merwe (2008) defines the socioeconomic as the study of the relationship between economic activity and social life. Prosopis juliflora is considered as both beneficial and invasive species as it is harmful for the biodiversity of the park and at the same time it provides fuel wood, charcoal, timber products and fodder for the livestock.

Present study showed that majority of the people had collected up to 50 metric tons of wood from the park. The collected wood was then sold in the local market and with the earned money, the people used to pay the loans and other borrowings. Most of the respondents acknowledged that this programme had greatly reduced their fuel wood demand but 54 % of the respondents admitted that they are still dependent for collecting fuel wood from the park even after the PJEP. This is the first of its kind of invasive weed eradication programme in India in which large scale of community participation was recorded. But, this could not reduce the use of Prosopis juliflora as a fuel wood as 79 % respondents answered that they are still using fuel wood for cooking food even after PJE programme. Findings indicate that community attitudes towards KNP were significantly positive after the programme. Many families of the study area are farmers and they suffered from wildlife damage, which is strongly associated with negative conservation attitude elsewhere (Heinen 1993; Newmark et al., 1993; Akama et al., 1995; De Boer and Baquete, 1998).

5. Conclusions

The purpose of the research was to determine the socioeconomic impact of the PJEP on local community living around Keoladeo National Park. Results indicated that this programme has an impact on some basic requirements like reconstruction of mud houses in to cemented house; some had paid loans and other borrowed things while rest had used the money as their current requirements. The attitude of local community towards the KNP was assessed and found more favorable which could be explain by the improved socioeconomic conditions of the community who participated in the PJE programme. It is also found that the distance of villages from KNP, education level of respondent and household income affects the respondent's attitude which need further study in villages around Keoladeo National Park.

DOI: 10.5261/2014.GEN4.05


This study is a part of the project "Building Partnerships to Support UNESCO's World Heritage Programme in India". We thank the Director, Wildlife Institute of India, for providing support under the UNF-UNESCO project. We also thank to the Director of Keoladeo National Park for providing necessary information and support.


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Bhadouria, B.S. (1) *; Mathur, V.B.1; Mathur, K. (2)

(1) Wildlife Institute of India, Chandrabani, Dehradun (India)

(2) Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan (India)

Corresponding author:

Received: 09 June 2014 Accepted: 30 September 2014

Table 1. Community perception towards Keoladeo National Park,
Bharatpur, Rajasthan (India)

number    Attitude statement of the respondents

1         Are you getting benefited because
          you are living close to the park?

          How does KNP staff interact with
2         people of your village?

          Do you think that park administration
3         should involve the community in a
          development programme?

          Did PJE programme help you in
4         improving your economic as well as
          living condition?

          Has population of wild animal
5         increased in your area?

          Will you contribute to protect the
6         natural resources of KNP?

          Do you feel proud that you are living
7         near the KNP?

          Does the park administration offer
8         any community development

          Have you or your family ever
          benefited through development
9         schemes except PJE programme by

10        Is existence of KNP good for you?

          Percentage of responses (%)
number    Agree   Neutral   Disagree   Mean     SD

1          70       11         19      1.41    0.68

2          60       26         14      1.54    0.73

3          87       11         2       1.15    0.41

4          91        9         0       1.09    0.28

5          44        5         51      2.07    0.97

6          67       19         15      1.47    0.73

7          71        9         20      1.49    0.81

8          64       22         14      1.50    0.73

9          47       11         42      1.95    0.94

10         71        9         20      1.49    0.81
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Title Annotation:articulo en ingles
Author:Bhadouria, B.S.; Mathur, V.B.; Mathur, K.
Publication:Spanish Journal of Rural Development
Date:Oct 1, 2014
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