The FREEP eco development program supported to establish a small unit as Eco Development Unit with Eco development officer, four range officers and nine Foresters and 12 Forest Guards. This team steered the new initiative in the 5km zone of influence along the eastern boundary of the reserve. 11 local Non-Governmental Organizations had been roped in who provided volunteers to work with the people.
The process of eco-development is ‘Site Specific’ and is driven with genuine participation of people both at planning and implementation of mutually agreed activities. The inputs of eco development increased the resource productivity in the periphery of protected areas which was used by the people and the dependence level of people using protected areas have considerably reduced due to the alternative livelihood interventions.
Enhancing awareness on the need and values of conservation and empowering people at village level are the other core facets of eco-development. Though eco-development strategy for conservation goals may not provide answers for all problems, yet as a site specific management intervention, it has high value to garner support from resource dependent local rural communities towards strengthening conservation efforts.
Building Rapport is the prerequisite for achieving a bond with people and eliciting their participation for conservation project. Interaction and valuing local culture was the key to a successful rapport building which resulted in mutual understanding which led to trust relationship with the community. The concept of ‘entry point’ activities gains significance in this effort. People do test the worthiness of the project. If some of these problems can be addressed it enables the project proponents to win the trust of the people and provides a fillip to rapport building.
Participatory Rural Appraisal is a participatory technique involving the community in collecting authentic information regarding the community. PRA based approach for micro planning for eco development was adopted.