Community-Conserved Areas (CCAs) as an effective tool for Biodiversity Conservation in Nagaland, India

Rejuvenating as well as strengthening the age-old practice of conserving community forests through mobilization and building synergies

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Eligibility Criteria

  • I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
  • I am 18 years old or older.

Initiative's representative name

Siddharth Edake

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative's representative gender

  • Man

Headquarters location: country

  • India

Headquarters location: city

New Delhi

Where are you making a difference?

Sukhai, Kivikhu and Ghukhuyi in Zunheboto district of Nagaland, India

Website or social media url(s)

Siddharth Edake ( Siddharth Edake (

Date Started


Project Stage

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)

Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?

  • €10k - €50k

Organization Type

  • Nonprofit/NGO

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

In 2015, when TERI was conducting a study documenting the CCAs in Nagaland, we were approached by the Sukhai village council to assist them in conserving their landscape. Since Sukhai village is the parent village of other villages including Kivikhu and Ghukhuyi that migrated away from it in the past and settled on the sides it was imperative to garner their support as the natural resources like forests, rivers and biodiversity is shared beyond village boundaries. Hence, to ensure conservation of large contiguous forest areas, it was decided to mobilise support to link the community conservation areas, revive traditional conservation practices and formalise and mainstream a network of CCAs on pilot basis along with the Nagaland Forest Dept.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

In Nagaland, located within the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot in India, most of the economic activities in the villages are based upon utilization of natural resources which has led to their over exploitation. But the silver lining is that there are records of Community-Conserved Areas (CCAs) created by communities for forest protection since time immemorial. Local communities, however, require incentives to compensate for lost livelihood opportunities as productive landscapes are conserved.

3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

A pilot scale project was initiated in the three villages of Sukhai, Kivikhu and Ghukhuyi in Zunheboto district of Nagaland, which aimed at creating and linking Community-Conserved Areas across the landscape and supporting conservation through livelihood creation. The model adopted aimed at strengthening the resilience of these mountain communities and their forests by rejuvenating traditional conservation practices and providing supplementary livelihoods. Activities included compiling information on Indigenous Ecological Knowledge (IEK), developing long-term ecological monitoring mechanisms, motivation and sensitization on landscape conservation and capacity building of the community members in biodiversity identification, documentation and monitoring, as well as promoting ecotourism as a livelihood option. This model of biodiversity conservation is being mainstreamed within the governance mechanism and up-scaled through a multi-pronged approach including financial support, legal recognition and long-term ecological monitoring.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

To strengthen community-conservation in Nagaland, a multi-pronged strategy is required including creating and linking CCAs, awareness creation and capacity building, initiating a dialogue with communities on the need for a policy for CCAs, and creating livelihood opportunities through ecotourism and payments for ecosystem services (PES). Since the majority of natural habitats are owned and managed by individuals and clans overseen by village councils, district councils and other traditional institutions it is imperative to involve the communities and support them in managing the conservation areas collectively thus in rejuvenating as well as strengthening the age-old practice of CCAs through mobilization and building synergies.

5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?

The primary stakeholders of the project consist of community and community institutions (Village Councils, Biodiversity Management Committees, CCA Committees, hunters, church groups, youth and women. TERI is implementing its work in partnership with the Forest Department of Nagaland at state level and Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change at national level who are the government legal institutions and is trying to push a policy to recognise CCAs at par with Protected Area Network in the country. Recently Ministry of Tribal Affairs has given a grant to TERI to focus on livelihood improvement by reviving local handicraft in Nagaland. Also, Japan Fund for Global Environment has committed a grant to focus on traditional agriculture & associated knowledge. In addition we are also working closely with like minded organisations like Conservation International Japan, United Nations University Tokyo and Institute for Global Environmental Strategies to name a few.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

Around 222 species of birds, 200 butterflies have been documented and protected by declaring 939 hectares as CCA and banning hunting and destructive fishing across the remaining landscape of forests and rivers (total area being 3751 hectares). This is our baseline at the moment & regular studies will be conducted to document species diversity & abundance. The direct beneficiaries so far have been 1200 individuals from 3 villages while number of indirect beneficiaries that have been sensitized through various tools is appro. 10000 individuals. The communities reported increases in the protection of natural resources after the formation of jointly managed CCAs, and improvement in management of common resources. The elders were satisfied with the documentation of their traditional and cultural indigenous knowledge in the People’s Biodiversity Register while the women, youth & hunter groups reported increases in their household income due to ecotourism by $260 per household per year.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

Since the neighboring villages around the pilot site have approached TERI for carrying out similar activities, we envisage to upscale them in at least 7 villages that share their forests & natural resources with the current three pilot villages. In addition, we will also include 3 other villages including Chepokita village from Phek district that lie on the southern side of Zünheboto district along the border but are dominated by the Chakesang tribe as oppose to the Sema tribe in Zunheboto disctrict. This will be a sizable area to demonstrate joint management of large contiguous patches of forests by communities as well as effective green corridors for free movement of wildlife that are otherwise hunted.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?

The current work has helped the communities in strengthening the age-old practice of conserving community forests through mobilization and building synergies. The project has also responded to the critical needs of the pilot area by documenting the traditional knowledge and raising awareness of impacts of anthropogenic activities on the biodiversity and ecosystem services, and its ripple effect on the socio-economic and cultural lifestyle of the communities. Again, the project, through its effort to generate alternative livelihoods, has built the capacity of communities on ecotourism and is contributing to biodiversity conservation.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

We have been supported by the Nagaland Forest Department initially followed by support from Conservation International (CI) Japan via a Global Environment Facility (GEF)-Satoyama grant. Since the project duration is over now, currently we are in phase of writing proposals and submitting them to various agencies for upscaling the project activities. Since we have been successful in meeting the project objectives, the State Government is keen in mainstreaming this work & TERI's aim is to influence policy development through the recognition and creation of a network of CCAs and to provide an important fillip to the rest of the Eastern Himalaya to formally recognize community-based conservation and forest restoration.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

Dr. Pia Sethi- Team Leader and Ecologist Mr. Siddharth Edake- Wildlife Biologist Ms Vidhu Kapur- Development specialist/community mobilization expert Mr Yatish Lele- Botanist Ms Aastha Sharma- GIS and remote sensing expert Dr Bibhu Prasad Nayak- Socio-economist

11. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Search engine

12. Connection to Biodiversity: How does your project directly contributes to preserving and/or restoring biodiversity? Please share data to support your answer.

The joint CCA formed by three villages has resulted in documentation of local biodiversity along with associated traditional knowledge in form of People's Biodiversity Register. This biodiversity which had completely dwindled over the years due to rampant hunting and logging for sell of timber and shifting cultivation has been revived due to intense focused conservation efforts by the communities. It has led to developing communication material for school children (Eg posters) as well as scientific publications by finding new species (eg. Krananda lucidaria moth) and range extension for many species (eg. a paper on mandarin trinket snake has been jointly published with local youth member). Moreover, camera traps purchased by communities are indicating whether RET species such as the Blyth's Tragopan are still sighted & are using corridors. These surveys, by documenting unique, rare or special fauna, have also acted as a catalyst to attract more nature lovers to the area as ecotourists.

13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples that show how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.

* The Village-level consultations, CCA network formation, GIS mapping to demarcate joint CCA boundaries & institutional strengthening will result in formation of joint CCA networks across identified districts to protect larger forest & river landscapes, prevent fragmentation and maintain viable species populations . *Documentation & mapping with training on monitoring techniques & hunting assessment will result in listing of biodiversity and traditional knowledge of area & understanding of factors influencing hunting. * Organisation of exposure visits & perception analysis regarding livelihood options will result in initiation of livelihood activities in form of ecotourism along with developing marketing strategies and links with tourism agency * Resuming the dialogue initiated between government & local communities on need for a policy/enabling framework on CCAs in Nagaland will result in reaching consensus amongst government & village communities on policy directions to be adopt

14. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?

Organizations like Kalpavriksh, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Foundation for Ecological Security & Nagaland Empowerment of People through Economic Development have attempted to document the CCAs of Nagaland, in order to highlight the conservation efforts taken by local communities. However their studies were limited to documentation and concentrated to smaller areas. On the contrary TERI did a first state-wide documentation of CCAs in Nagaland & found that one-third of it's villages (407 villages out of 1,428 in 11 districts) have constituted CCAs. The data also revealed that the foremost challenge faced by 81% of CCAs is providing alternative livelihoods. This needs to be urgently addressed, particularly since 58% of the CCAs face incursions by the timber mafia. Hence our proposed project focuses on legally recognizing CCAs, strengthening community conservation through joint CCA model & developing ecotourism which is imperative as a role model for Nagaland.

15. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?

* Tizu Valley Biodiversity Conservation and Livelihood Network (Joint CCA network of 3 pilot villages) has won special recognition under MoEFCC-UNDP 2018 awards for Sustainable Use of Biological Resources * The film, Nagaland is Changing..but!, produced and based on the conservation efforts of villagers in Nagaland, won the Golden Beaver Best Film Award in 2016. *

16. Financial Sustainability – funding breakdown: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating an estimated percentage that comes from each source.

individual donations or gifts- NIL foundation or NGO grants- bequests- 19.70% corporate contributions- 18.91% grants or contracts- 28.32% earned income (product or services sales, licensing, franchising, consulting, financing, etc.)- 9.91% other- 23.16%

17. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge? How would you invest the prize money to leverage your work?

India has a rich history of community-based conservation with thousands of small & large areas where traditional forms of conservation exist or new forms of conservation have evolved. The conservation processes at these sites are deeply interlinked with the local culture, lifestyles & needs. Thus, the Indigenous and community conserved areas are increasingly being recognized as important ways to protect and regenerate a range of values. Nagaland is the only state of India to have almost a third of its area under CCAs and provides a wonderful example of a fledgling people’s movement for conservation. The conservation initiatives taken by the communities such as TVBCLN can be easily upscaled through the project as well as formalized & mainstreamed as the 1st big joint network of CCAs in the state which is at par with India’s Protected Area (PA) & can be replicated in 30 States/UTs of the country where the Scheduled Tribes are notified constituting 8.6% of country’s total population.
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Attachments (13)

Documentation of Community Conserved Areas of Nagaland-final.pdf

In North-East India, located within the Indo-Burma and Himalaya biodiversity hotspots, traditional conservation and wise-use practices have helped protect biodiversity over the centuries. Today, however, rampant hunting and forest degradation greatly threaten the region’s biodiversity. The revival of traditional conservation practices through the creation of Community-Conserved Areas. This is the 1st study that documents one-third of Nagaland’s villages (407) have constituted CCAs

Pilot CCA Case Study.pdf

A pilot scale project was initiated in three villages of Sukhai, Kivikhu and Ghukhuyi in Zunheboto district of Nagaland which aimed at creating and linking community conservation areas across the landscape and supporting conservation through livelihood creation. The project has resulted in protection declaring 939 hectares as community conservation reserve and banning hunting and destructive fishing across the remaining landscape of forests and rivers (total area being 3751 hectares).


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