Since time immemorial, mountain dwellers and tribal people follow a tradition
of judicious utilization of their natural resources. Over the centuries, a symbiotic
relationship developed and a methodology evolved for harmonious coexistence
with nature. Irrespective of the fact that the vast and diverse Himalayan terrain
is inhabited by multilingual and multiracial people, the people have a
common heritage and are dependent on natural resources. These societies had
patience, commitments, and appreciation for the values that made them a selfsustaining
society. forced to face several hardships to earn their livelihood.
However, in the last couple of decades, due to industrialization and commercialization,
natural resources have become a means of economical development
and have opened numerous ways for commercial exploitation. This has caused
rapid depletion of these resources, thus depriving the mountain societies of their
livelihood support base. On one hand, this sort of indiscriminate exploitation of
natural resources provided many opportunities to industrialists and capitalists
to further augment their profit, while on the other hand, this limited the vital
resource base for the sustenance of the mountain dwellers. Today, the situation
has worsened to the extent that majority of the marginal communities have been
forced to face several hardships to earn their livelihood.
This book is made up of a set of articles that explore the participatory resource management systems and institutions such as van panchayats and sacred groves, and attempts to assess their compatibility with current legislative and policy provisions. In a significant way, these articles aim at bridging the gap between policy and practice, to provide field-level inputs to national- and state-
level processes of policy deliberation.
This volume is recommended to all practitioners of natural resource management and anyone interested in delving into our deep cultural traditions.