(i) Eco development:- The core area of the reserve is free of any human settlements. A total of 62 villages fall within the immediate vicinity of the park and considered as fringe villages for eco-development programme linked to the reserve. The inhabitants of fringe villages belong to different ethnic composition including: Bodo (47-65%), Bengali (25-40.7%) and Nepalese (0.1%). The native communities of the reserve are socially, culturally and emotionally attached to the area. They are dependent on the biological resources for use as medicine, food, fodder, fuel, timber, religious, fibre, agricultural tools, etc. Due to their traditions and ethno-specific practices, they are heavily dependent on various kinds of forest produce from neighbouring forests. It includes fodder (cattle grazing), timber, firewood, thatch, wild vegetables and fruits, fish and occasional wild-animal hunting for meat. Most of the villagers are poor, landless labourers or marginal agriculturist with very low agriculture production. Rice is the major crop, which contributes 75-90% of agriculture production; other agricultural crops include jute, mustard and vegetable. Location specific agriculture development initiatives are missing. Also, the efforts for possible development of fishery, piggery and dairy related income generating activities have not occurred in the area (Singh, 2002). As such, the buffer zone of the reserve is functioning as manipulation zones where the native communities are allowed to use natural resources and to carry out the developmental activities. Various activities such as eco-restoration, cultivation of medicinal plants, apiculture, animal husbandry, ecotourism, land stabilization, etc. are being initiated by the Biosphere Reserve Authorities, Research Organizations, and other agencies, etc.
The local communities residing in and around the buffer zone of Manas Tiger Reserve generally belong to Bodo, Adivasi, Bengali, Rabha-Hasang, Koch- Rajbongshi, Muslim and Nepalese. Due to their traditions and ethno-specific practices, they are heavily dependent on various kind of forest from neighbouring forests. It includes fodder, cattle (grazing), timber, firewood, thatch, wild vegetables and fruits, fish and occasional wild animal hunting for meat.
A major percentage of the total population belong to Bodo tribe who comprise 47% to 65% of the population in the individual villages which followed by other communities like Assamese, Bengali, Nepalese, Rabha-Hasang, Koch-Rajbongshi and a negligible number of Adivasis. Besides, minority community such as Muslims also inhabits the area.
The eco-development programmes in the area was a humble beginning of Welfare works in the fringe villages for seeking people co-operation in protection of flora and fauna of Tiger Reserve. The broad objective of this scheme are – a) to mitigate the pressure of the people on the natural resource of the reserve by creating alternate source of livelihood outside the reserve and other income generating activities which are not deleterious to Protected area value; b) to undertake welfare works in fringe villages for providing basic amenities to the people and collaboration of local people in conservation.
Logistic support agencies for demonstration projects, environmental education and training, research and monitoring related to local, regional and global issues of conservation and sustainable development:-
- Authorities of the MTR (Manas Biosphere Reserve) (State forest Department, Govt. of Assam) provide the basic support for organizing educational camps, seminars, technology transfer programmes, etc.
- The G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Kosi-Katarmal- 263643, Almora, State of Uttaranchal, India, has been identified as Lead/ Coordinating Institution for Manas along with other Himalayan Biosphere Reserves i.e., Nanda Devi, Dibru-Saikhowa, Dehang-Debang and Kangchendzonga to facilitate the Research and Development activities and compile and disseminate the available information. The Institute after analysis of information identifies the gap areas for future action.
- Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India, under its Man & Biosphere Scheme, funds the projects in these Biosphere Reserves.
- Various Universities, Research Organizations and NGOs are executing R & D projects pertaining to biodiversity assessment and monitoring, ecorestoration, conservation and other related aspects with funding support from different national and international agencies.
(ii) Development through District Administration:-
MTR is located within the jurisdiction of the Bodoland Territorial Council came into being in 2003. As per agreement some 39 subjects were transferred to the Council and Forest was one them. The Council executes developmental programmes in its territory through various departments transferred to it and each headed by a designated Council Head of Department.
The Ministry of P & R. D. Dept, Govt of India and State Govt counterpart allocate fund under Community Development Fund, NSAP and Rural Development to the DRDAs of the BTC. The flagship programmes of rural development of Govt of India are: NREGA (National Rural Guarantee Act), IAY (Indira Awas Yojona), SGSY (Swaenajoyanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana) and IWDP (Integrated Westland Development Programme). All the DRDAs of BTC districts like Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri receive Rural Development fund from the Central as well as the State Govt.
(iii) Catchment Area Treatment Plans:-
Tangible initiatives in the area in context of catchment area treatment plan are either missing or not loud in the area.
Tourism:- Manas is generally open to tourists from November to April. The entry to the Park is permitted from Bansbari gate on Bansbari- Mathanguri Road. Forest IB inside the park is situated at Mathanguri for which reservation is done by the office of the Field Director. It is located on an elevation on the bank of Manas river overlooking the Bhutan side of the park and presents a view of the spectacular landscape and forests.
There are other resorts owned privately and located at the fringe of the park. They offer host of facilities and services to the visitors at modest price.
The park provides boat rides (rafting) and elephant rides. Foreign visitors need a special permit to enter the park.
Tea Plantations:- There are numerous Tea gardens located in the fringe of Manas Tiger Reserve. These are either just adjacent or in close proximity to the Tiger Reserve. The list of the Tea Gardens is given below:-
- Fatemabad Tea Estate (adjacent to Manas national Park)
- Dumni Tea Estate (near Batabari RF)
- Menoka Tea Estate (near Darranga RF)
- Nagrijuli Tea Estate (west of Barnadi WLS)
- Atharikhat Tea Estate (south of Barnadi WLS)
- Dimakuchi Tea Estate (south of Barnadi WLS)
- Paneri Tea Estate (south of Khalingduar RF)
- Bhutiachang Tea Estae (south of Khalingduar RF)
- Hatigar Tea Estate (south of Khalingduar RF)
- Khairabari Tea Estae (south of Khalingduar RF)
- Koramor Tea Estate (adjacent to Khalingduar RF)
- Chandana Tea Estate (Dhansiri).