Act as guardian of Forests: Javaid Rahi appeals Gujjar, Bakerwal tribes

Recently implemented ‘Forest Rights Act-2006’ by virtue of its provisions,  not only  recognize the  individual and collective land rights  of Forest Dwelling communities but it provide rights  to protect, regenerate, conserve and manage the Forests  and its resources through community under fall in a Gram Sabha said noted tribal research Dr. Javaid Rahi -during an awareness programme organised by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation.

He appealed Gujjars, Bakkarwals  – major forest-dwelling communities  of J&K  to act as guardian of the forest and protect this wealth with their traditional knowledge.

He asked all indigenous communities to act against deforestation and work for significant changes in environmental profile of Jammu and Kashmir.  

He impressed upon the Tribal and  traditional forest dwellers to constitute forest management committees under Forest Rights Act  and strictly follow  the forestry management practices. It includes protection of forest from any misuse besides  adaptation of forest regeneration practices , he added.

He said , tribes especially Gujjars and Bakrwal in Jammu and Kashmir  used forests and grazing lands for their livelihood and residential use. These communities had “strong ecological connections, he said.

He said nomadic lifestyle  mainly revolves around socio-economic necessity, ranging from making tools and utensils, supplying basic goods (milk, wool), collecting  medicines and herbs and other minor forest  produces but during such activities tribal should take care of the biodiversity of the area.

He advised that if they are not going to take regeneration and protection of forests seriously,   the  future changes in ecology and environment would seriously affect their livelihood options and new generations.

He said adequate awareness programs are required for  Gujjars – Bakerwals on forest fires.

He said Trees and shrubs which are crucial in a forest ecosystem which can mainly be lost in forest fires. In such circumstances the Gujjars, Bakarwals Tribal people should act as the real guardians of these forests along with the Forest Department, he added.