BRIEF HISTORY AND ACHIEVEMENTS OF KHASI HILLS REDD+PROJECT
In 2007, forest initiatives in the area began as a pilot project called Wahlyngkien Mawphlang for Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) funded by Community Forestry International, (CFI) based in California, USA. This project was carried out to protect and conserve the forests of the clustered villages of Wahlyngkien Ramklang and Wahlyngkien Sunei in Hima Mawphlang Lyngdohship. With the successful implementation of the project in Mawphlang,other adjacent Hima also wanted to join in conserving the forests and natural resources. Therefore, this golden opportunity was taken into consideration. Through the enthusiastic and dynamic leadership of the present Secretary of the Society, Mr. Tambor Lyngdoh who is also the Chief Community Facilitator (CCF), a series of meetings were convened. Mr.Lyngdoh went to meet all the Hima heads and held meetings in Mawphlang, Mawngap, Mawjrong, Tyrsad and Sohrarim to describe the project and the possibility of expanding it to include other Hima through a new initiative under the United Nations’ climate change program called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradationor REDD.
In 2011, Mr. Tambor Lyngdohconvened a series of awareness programmesintroducing this new issue of conserving forests through REDD. The REDD concept was discussed at a series of village meetings in the Umiam Sub Watershed between March–June 2011. Photographs of regenerated forest area were presented, and success stories of the pilot project were described to all villages. As the project continued, it was decided to include the expertise from Bethany Society on socio-economic and livelihood as well as an NRM specialist from the forest department on natural resources and forest management during 2011. Beginning in 2012, the Synjuk administers the Project through its Mawphlang Office with itstechnical staff and community facilitators.
In 2012, through consensus from the Heads of the 10 Hima,it was resolved to unite as a strong community federation to jointly conserve the natural resources and environment through mitigating activities and by uplifting the socio-economic and livelihood condition of the community. The Synjuk of 10 Himais now very strong and has been able to link various SHGs, Farmers Clubs, and individuals toreceive training and making linkages with various Government departments for new livelihood activities. The Synjuk focuses on a bottom–up approach, through preparation of Village Management Plans to avail funding through convergence with available government schemes and other funding agencies. Village Management, Cluster Management, and Hima plans are drafted and ready for operation. To monitor and mobilize the project, KSKHAWU-MWS selected one male and one female member from each Hima to function as a community facilitator and one male and one female Youth Volunteer from each village. The secretary of the society also functions as the Chief Community Facilitator. Between 2007-2015 CFI was key to the initial support of these projects. Although the CFI formally closed its operations in June 2015, Dr. Mark Poffenberger and Dr. Kathryn Smith-Hanssen continue to voluntarily assist the Project as members of the Project’s advisory committee.