Community Reserves
Community Reserves, as per the law can only be declared on non-government land. This category, therefore, is a non-starter in most CCAs as they are on government controlled lands which cannot be declared as Community Reserves. In north east India , Western Ghats , and a few other examples in the rest of the country where conserved land is under community and private land ownership, this provision could have been applied, but could create problems as:

1) After declaration the community or the private body loses the mandate to manage and conserve their own area with their local rules, regulations, and institutions. The Act provides for a uniform institution consisting of panchayat heads and others. Particularly in the north-east, India the traditional village council or the traditional decision-making bodies thus cannot be involved in the management.

2) Once the area is declared a community reserve the community or the private body an no longer make any changes in the land use without the permission of the state government

3) No process for denotification has been specified in case the concerned community or individual desire to opt out of the arrangement.

4) The benefits or incentives for a community or a private body for getting their area declared as a community reserve are unclear. They will be in fact be losing their present exclusive rights to manage the area, and will be losing control over the decisions related to land use change! Under such conditions, communities or private parties are unlikely to be willing to have their areas declared community reserves.

5) The imposition of a uniform institutional structure is likely to undermine the enormous diversity of effective institutions already managing existing CCAs; in addition, the mandatory inclusion of a forest official on the CR Managing Committee is likely to be viewed with suspicion by the communities whose past or ongoing experience with government agencies has not been positive.


The only limited areas where Community Reserves may be useful are in community or private lands where the community is strong enough to be able to resist the above problems, where they can force the government to accept their own terms.but even in these there remains a long-term risk of losing control over their lands/other resources.Community Reserves are not applicable for areas where communities are not volunteering to conserve or on government lands where community based conservation is already in place.Participants discussed the pros and cons of these categories in detail and strongly felt that their use will be extremely restrictive and even counter-productive. The categories are at best a very half-hearted attempt at supporting community conservation initiatives, and at worst prone to serous misuse by giving government control even on community and private lands. If these categories are intended at creating community support for conservation then some serious amendments will have to be made as is clear from the pros and cons of these categories given below.
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