Ecological and socio-economic assessment of the grazing ban in Sikkim

Research Team: Shweta Bhagwat, Manasi Pathak, Vivek Venkataramani
LEAD Centre: Centre for Development Finance ( CDF)
Focus Area: Environment and Climate Change
Project Geography: Sikkim
Partner: Department of Forest and Wildlife Management, Sikkim
Status: Completed

Background:

The Environmentally Sustainable Finance team in collaboration with the Forest Environment and Wildlife Management Department, Sikkim is conducting a study to examine the effects of the ban laid on grazing in forest areas in Sikkim. The study is being carried out in Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary (BRS) and the neighbouring areas of Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve (KBR) in West district. Sikkim government had implemented a ban on open grazing in reserved forest areas, plantations and near water sources in 1998. The ban was implemented phase-wise and now covers all the protected forest areas in the state. The study is a review of the implications of the grazing ban on vegetation and soil of the region and on livelihood aspects of the local stakeholders.\

Objectives:
The objectives of the project are as below:
•    To determine the change in habitat condition, hydrology and edaphic factors in the region after the implementation of the ban on grazing in reserved forest areas.
•    To understand the perspectives of the local community on the grazing ban and to study the change in livelihood strategies adopted by them.
•    To develop a feasible methodology for assessing impact in the absence of detailed longitudinal ecological or socio-economic data.
•    To document relevant baseline data that can be used as a foundation for rigorous research on the future impacts of continuing or adjusting the grazing ban.
•    To perform preliminary investigation on the issue of cross border grazing.

Impact of the study
The project is an independent study that has been initiated at the behest of Sikkim Forest Department. The findings from the study are expected to serve as a baseline for forthcoming studies related to ban on grazing in the state. A successful implementation of ban on grazing is supposed to improve the condition of the degraded forest landscape, but it is important to fully understand what aspects of the forest it helps more than others as well as where its impact could be strengthened. The present evaluation helps in understanding this and other potentially confounding influences on forest health. The present study develops a feasible analytical framework for a pilot area that can be scaled up for a larger study to measure the impacts of the grazing ban in the State of Sikkim.

Related Resources
WORKING PAPER – An approach to effective assessments in low data environment : Evidence from Sikkim, India
PUBLISHED PAPER – Analysis of grazing exclusion policy in Sikkim through a climate change mitigation lens
REPORT – Sikkim Grazing Impact Assessment Report