In February 2022,Villagers staying adjacent to Kakoijana reserve forest in Assam’s Bongaigaon district, have opposed a move by the State government to upgrade Kakoijana Reserve Forest to a Wildlife Sanctuary.
Kakoijana Reserve Forest is one of the better-known homes of the Golden Langur.
What Is the issue?
The Assam Forest Department issued a preliminary notification for converting the 19.85 sq. km. area of forest into the Kajoijana Bamuni Hill Wildlife Sanctuary.
Once the Kakoijana Reserve Forest is converted to a Wildlife Sanctuary this will impact the customary and traditional practices and consequently result in villagers losing the rights over the forest.
The villagers have demanded that the reserve forest should be converted into a Community Forest reserve using Forest Rights Act, 2006.
They pointed out that the conservation efforts by them had helped the authorities concerned to restore the forest canopy from less than 5% to more than 70%.
This in turn helped increase the Golden Langur population from less than 100 to more than 600 over almost three decades.
This is considered as the world's 25 most endangered primates.
Main population of golden langurs in Assam is the Manas Biosphere Reserve, along the Bhutan Border.
Difference between Wildlife Sanctuary,Community Reserve and Reserve forest
Wildlife Sanctuary-This place is reserved exclusively for wildlife use, which includes animals, reptiles, insects, birds, wild animals, especially those in danger of extinction so that they can live in peace for a lifetime and keep their population viable.
The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 gives power to Central and State governments to declare any area a Wildlife Sanctuary, National Park or Closed area.
Reserve Forest-They are the most restricted forests and are constituted by the State Government on any forest land or wasteland which is the property of the Government.
In this forests, local people are prohibited,unless specifically allowed by a Forest Officer in the course of the settlement.
Community reserve - It is the customary common forest land within the traditional or customary boundaries of the village.
The reserve is managed through a community reserve management committee.
No change in land use pattern shall be made within the community reserve, except in accordance with a resolution passed by the management committee and approval of the same by the State Government.