Community-based conservation in Eastern Himalayan biodiversity hotspot- a case study
Biodiversity resources of southern bank of Yarlung Tsangbo river valley in South Tibet and Bumdelling-Tawang corridor in the eastern Bhutan are less explored by tourism and urbanization. Institutional initiatives for the conservation of these rich biodiversity areas under the traditional ownership of local communities of Arunachal Pradesh led to a community-based conservation model of Community Conserved Areas (CCA). Spontaneous participation of the stakeholders in these CCA was lacking because conservation objective was conflicting with traditional livelihood practices. To create new livelihood opportunities, the village institutions mobilized community-based leisure models and aligned these alternate livelihood objectives with ecological conservation. These economic initiatives met the challenges of bureaucratic administration, restricted access being close to international boundary with Bhutan & China, ineffective promotion by government agencies, and, the threats caused by the hydroelectric dam project. Strategy implementation was flawed because of the information sharing mechanism between China-India and India-Bhutan is constrained due to international borders. Internal challenges of indigenous CCA were limited customer integration, skewed societal acceptance of leisure-based livelihood practices, and capital cost of conservation capacity. Marketing of tourism in CCAs of Thembang and Zemithang as nature tourism destination requires all-weather road, sustained technical and financial support, and distribution linkages. This research discusses the critical success factor of Zemithang as an expanding CCA and limitations of Thembang CCA in mobilizing host community support. The authors argue that the community-based biodiversity conservation in the western Arunachal Pradesh must be supported by a participatory format of alternate livelihood opportunities.
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