, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 205-215
Date: 17 Feb 2010

Strategies for Self-organization: Learning from a Village-level Community-based Conservation Initiative in India

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Self-organization is a key condition to the success of community-based conservation initiatives, including those recognized by the Equator Initiative of the UNDP. This paper contributes to emerging scholarship that focuses on community-based conservation in South Asia and in particular examines self-organization strategies within a small-scale community-based conservation initiative in a cross-cultural setting to further understanding about how such initiatives originate, sustain and grow. This is achieved through a case study of the Baripada Forest Protection Initiative in India by utilizing in-depth interviews and focus groups. In addition to certain often-cited strategies for self-organization, the Baripada initiative included unique features of self-organization such as village community design, implementation and adaptation of rules for local natural resources use and conservation, little need for financial support, and significant mobilization of human resources. These strategies, along with emerging social learning opportunities (e.g., a community plant diversity register) inspired by the Baripada initiative, inform and enrich the criteria for designing and evaluating conservation and development initiatives, irrespective of their scale.