“If we save the forest, the forest will save us”

“If we save the forest, the forest will save us”

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Read one woman’s story of courage to save the forest that is a source of livelihood for her entire village. http://bit.ly/1HwtMlf #EvenItUp

“If we save the forest, the forest will save us,” says a determined Bhubneshwari Devi. Read more. http://bit.ly/1HwtMlf #EvenItUp

For Bhubneshwari Devi, the forest was her livelihood, her home and provider for her family. As a daily wage labourer she collected and sold forest products for a living. 

Bhubneshwari lives with her husband and six children -- three sons and three daughters -- in Kusumbha village, Vishnugarh, Hazaribagh, Jharkhand.

The entire community of Kusumbha village was struggling for their rights over the 400 acres of forest they inhabited for generations.

The government, especially the forest department, had made it difficult for them to live and work in the forest area. 

And the forest in which Kusumbha village is settled in was being illegally cut. The unemployment problem in the community was increasing alarmingly.

With the support of Oxfam India’s partner, Naya Sawera Vikas Kendra (NSVK), Bhubneshwari Devi raised awareness in her community about forest rights, encouraging people to participate in the Gram Sabha (village meets) and put forward their grievances.

  • She formed Van Suraksha Dals (Forest safety teams) of six women to protect illegal cutting of trees in their forest, saving 400 acres of forest, their home and source of livelihood for generations.
  • She mobilised community members to prepare and file claims for individual and community forest rights.

“The forest is ours and we will protect it. Community and individual rights to the forest will help us to earn our livelihood. If we save our forest, forest will save us,” said Bhubneshwari Devi.

As a result, the cutting of trees in the forest has gone down. Now Bhubneshwari wants Community Forest Right over the 400 acre forest. She also wants to link women with self employment.

 

Written by: Oxfam India staff

Photo credit: Oxfam India

 

 


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