Background of 'Oran Forum'

'Oran Forum' is an independent and informal forum in which different stakeholders can discuss matters related to Orans. 'Oran' is a colloquial term used to describe 'conserved commons' of traditional pastoral communities in Rajasthan. They include woodlots, pastures, orchards, sacred groves, and habitats usually centred around springs and bodies of waters. Orans provide landscape connectivity and nourish human communities, livestock and biodiversity: birds (exp. peacocks, bustards, vultures and cranes); wild fruits and medicinal plants; vulnerable & endangered wildlife (e.g. leopards, tigers, the caracal); and endemic animal and plant species that are disappearing elsewhere. Being associated with local deities and customs, orans also play a cultural and spiritual role in these communities. Their estimated number in Rajasthan is over 25,000, supporting over 7.5 million pastoralists. Being governed managed by custodian communities, orans exemplify 'conserved commons'. 'Oran Forum' is network of over 1000 members representing indigenous & local communities, pastoralists’, activists, NGOs, academics, and other stakeholders across Rajasthan. Oran Forum was initiated by KRAPAVIS in the year 2008 to provide an opportunity for indigenous and pastoral communities to act on behalf of orans. The forum not only brings together a community with overlapping or shared concerns but also shapes a perspective on the future of Orans. This is also used as an “effective forum” with different stakeholders for discussion of in-depth matters and for safeguarding the long-term interest of communities in insuring the survival, growth and development of orans.


Advisory Board of the Oran Forum

Executive body of the forum is composed of an advisory board consisting of a president, secretary and seven members. The present advisory board is composed of the following people:

S. No. Name of the Board Member Designation
1. Shri Aman Singh, Founder KRAPAVIS President
2. Shri Bhojuram Gujar, Community Leader & Scholar on Orans Secretary
3. Shri Vijay Dhasmana, Aravali Biodiversity Park Member
4. Shri Nitin Bathla, ETH Zurich Member
5. Dr. Dhirendra Devarshi, Professor- Zoology, MSJ College Member
6. Shri Sumersingh Bhati, Oran Community Representative Jaisalmer Member
7. Prof. Soumana Datta, Head of Botany Dept. Rajasthan University Member
8. Dr. Sitaram Verma, Senior Veterinarian Alwar Member
9. Dr. Archana Godbole, Director AERF & Member of IUCN's Commission Member

The forum is currently presided by the founding member of the convening organisation, KRAPAVIS. Officially, the president heads the forum and is responsible for execution of the decisions and for overseeing forum activities.

Activities of the Oran Forum:

Building upon years of experience of working closely with oran communities, the board deliberates on the actions and strategy of the forum. The forum takes part in formulating plan of action to facilitate and empower local communities. The forums engagement with community is based on the foundations of engendering the development perspectives and is an assurance of greater role and control of communities. The forum undertakes the following activities:

1. Policy Issues on Oran: The forum undertakes policy research, the findings of which can help produce more ecologically and socially rooted rules, regulations and practices vis-à-vis orans. The following factors merit further consideration in the interests of strengthening the case for policy change:

  • Status of the existing orans in Rajasthan
  • Nature of and reasons for deterioration of orans
  • Management, Control and Ownership (MCO) of orans. Suggest necessary policy to legally and constitutionally uphold community rights over the ownership and management of orans in terms of biodiversity conservation and rural livelihoods.
  • Customary rights over commons, legal tenure rights and civil rights over orans
  • Livelihood, socio-economic and cultural issues related to orans; social catchment analysis; how Orans protect the livelihoods and basic needs of economically vulnerable sections of rural communities (including the 7.5 millions pastoralists in Rajasthan)
  • Gene pool and biodiversity conservation aspects of orans
  • The possibility of using legal action to convince government agencies to identify and classify all existing orans
  • The scope for improvement in condition of orans under various existing Acts, laws, for example the National Bio-diversity Act 1992, Rajasthan Forest Policy 2010, Supreme Court ORDER (03/07/2018) etc.

Based on the above, an advisory document detailing potential policy/legislative changes are developed by the forum and submitted to the government.

2. Advocacy:

  • In-depth analysis of the direct and indirect causes of degradation of Orans and development of sustainable and practically feasible management strategies.
  • Distributing information (such as the aforementioned policy documents) to relevant stakeholdersin order to increase awareness of the fact that the biodiversity can be conserved only if the traditional social and cultural structure of local communities is also preserved.
  • Release of a quarterly newsletter in a local language and circulation of publications/articles/case studies to encourage appreciation of the complexity of people’s cultural practices and knowledge (especially their mental maps of orans (trees and water resources).
  • Organizing workshops at different levels to create public awareness and interest in the importance and beneficial aspects of oran conservation.
  • Organizing workshops and seminars at the state level in order to forge links with administrators, government officials, scientists, foresters, NGOs and other relevant people, and to include them in forum/advisory committees of willing and consenting members for further discussion and planning at the state level. Field visit to model Orans developed under project to be conducted.
  • Involve and partner the government to recognize the importance of orans by jointly circulating quarterly newsletters/publications about the same.
  • Enhancement of compensation and involvement of local communities.

3. Coalitions with existing networks: This initiative adopts a partnership-centred approach by linking activities with community-based organisations, non-governmental organisations, legal experts/agencies, private sector, government, State Biodiversity Board, research and academic institutions, and so on.