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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ranthambore, Sariska buffer zones notified

Rachna Singh, TNN | Jul 10, 2012, 04.22AM IST A tiger rests in a pond ahead of the Census of Wild Animals, at the Ranthambore National Park. JAIPUR: The forest department has finally notified the buffer zones of Sariska Tiger Reserve and Ranthambhore National Park. The notification of buffer zones would help regulate commercialization of revenue land and create a better habitat for the big cat. As per the notification issued under Wildlife (Protection) Act, a 298 sq km of buffer area has been added to the Ranthambore park which is spread over approximately 400 sq km. Similarly, 392 sq km buffer area has been added to the STR, which is spread over 800 sq km. "While the critical tiger habitat was notified earlier, the buffer zones had to be identified and notified for Project Tiger. The consent of villagers has been taken before earmarking the buffer zones as some land also happens to be revenue land. With this we would be able to focus on creating a congenial habitat for the tiger by adding the buffer zone, peripheral to the critical tiger habitat," said A C Choubey, chief wildlife warden, Rajasthan. The tiger reserves are constituted on a 'core-buffer' strategy. The core area is kept free of biotic disturbances and forestry operations, where collection of minor forest produce, grazing, human disturbances are not allowed. "However, the buffer zone is managed as a 'multiple use area' with twin objectives of providing habitat supplement to the spillover population of wild animals from the core conservation unit and to provide site specific eco-developmental inputs to surrounding villages for relieving their impact on the core," said Choubey. The idea is to create a better tiger habitat with support from the Tiger Conservation Plan, without putting any riders on the villagers, he said. Except for the national parks portion if contained within, normally no relocation of villages is visualised in the buffer area, and forestry operations, non-timber forest products, NTFP collection and other rights and concessions to the local people are permitted in a regulated manner to complement the initiatives in the core unit. Besides, the notification of the buffer zones is very significant as it would also lead to protection of the reserves from intensive projects like mining. According to National Tiger Conservation Authority, "the buffer zone of a tiger reserve will not have the status of a national park or sanctuary. Buffer areas with forest connectivity are imperative for tiger dynamics, since such areas foster sub adults, young adults, transients and old members of the population. Habitat management and improvement activities will be carried out in the existing habitat of tiger and its prey species through active involvement of local communities." The existing silvicultural operations will be accordingly modified to promote conservation of the area and the management will be based on specific forest lands forming part of village-level micro plans. Community will be involved in the overall management of the buffer area, lists NTCA. What's a buffer zone? A buffer is a thin layer of protection on all sides of the reserve. Those living in this zone will be given alternative livelihood options to reduce dependence on core forest produce. These zones will be protected from major changes in land use. Unlike the core area, which is exclusive, the buffer zone will be inclusive but importance will be given to protection of wildlife.

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