Exploitation of forests over the years may have contributed to economic growth for certain sections of society but it has been at the cost of ecological security. Such exploitative policies have directly led to the impoverishment of marginal mountain farmers dependent upon forests as support areas for their livelihood.
We at Grassroots strongly believe that sustainable mountain development is possible only if forest ecosystems are restored, thereby effecting necessary recharge of water sources and nutrient recycling. And this can happen effectively if various stakeholders – farming families, NGOs, the state government, local administration, forest officials – act in unison. Grassroots has been striving for such a coalition of efforts in two river basins: Gagas in the central Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, and Palor in the western Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh. Our endeavor in such a multi-stakeholder platform of key players in the river basin is to ‘put the villagers first’, making it clear to all players in the multi-stakeholder platform that the community is the primary stakeholder.