Parambikulam is home of four indigenous communities residing in six tribal settlements with 296 families and total population of 1254 individuals. Till 2000, the people in the settlements were solely dependent on the timber operations in the plantations of the reserve. Ban on timber extraction for commercial purpose from the PAs by the order of the Apex Court resulted in large scale unemployment among the local tribal communities which in turn increased overexploitation of natural forests for non-timber forest produces, fishing in the reservoirs, collection of firewood, small scale poaching etc.
Adding to this was the unregulated tourism activities and consequent damages to the natural ecosystem through uncontrolled use of vehicles inside the reserve, large scale dumping of plastic wastes, garbage and mineral water bottles, disturbance to wildlife and destruction of habitat by fire.
Forest Development Agency, Parambikulam is a society constituted for implementing various developmental programs for the inhabitants of Parambikulam. It was registered under the Societies’ Registration Act, 1955, during October 2002. Parambikulam FDA consists of 8 Eco-Development Committees, namely
- Sungam EDC
- Kadavu EDC
- Anjam Colony EDC
- Kuriyarkutty EDC
- Poopara EDC
- Earthdam EDC
- Naturalists’ EDC
- Watchers’ EDC
Of which the first 6 are EDC’s that include all inhabitants of the respective Tribal Hamlet (from which the EDC derives its name). The remaining two are professional EDCs, which is constituted by people who are working in that particular designation for the Tiger Reserve.
All these EDCs together include all the indigenous residents of these Forests. The Tourism activities presently being undertaken here is completely run by the Parambikulam FDA, which in extension means the local communities. In addition to Tourism, the Parambikulam Eco-Village and Eco-shops are also run the EDC members.
When Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary was declared as Parambikulam Tiger Reserve in 2013, as per Section 38 X of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, the Parambikulam Tiger Conservation Foundation (PaTCoF) was established as a non-profit organization working under Parambikulam Tiger Reserve in 2014. As per the Act, many of the activities which were already being carried out by Parambikulam FDA were amalgamated with PaTCoF and thus receiving statutory support. In the present arrangement Parambikulam Forest Development Agency (FDA) manages the Ecotourism and Eco-Developmental initiatives of Parambikulam Tiger Reserve while PaTCoF is engaged in Wildlife Monitoring, Research, Capacity Development, Species Survey and other scientific/technical aspects related to managing the Tiger Reserve
- To facilitate and support management of Tiger Reserve for conservation of Tiger and biodiversity.
- To facilitate ecological, economic, social and cultural development of the communities living inside the tiger reserve.
- To provide sustainable and assured employment opportunities to the indigenous communities year-round.
- To involve the forest dependent community in the execution of the programme and make the functioning fully participatory.
- To create a funnel mechanism through which assistance under various schemes of the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India and other sources would flow.
- To liaison with other Government Departments and Agencies to develop and implement eco-friendly village development programmes.To create an effective mechanism in order to ensure that this becomes a medium for other departments to reach beneficiaries as well.
- To provide effective monitoring, evaluation and supervision of the schemes implemented by member EDCs
- To undertake such activities as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of the objects of the Society.
- To facilitate the creation of/or maintenance of, such assets as may be necessary for fulfilling the above said objectives.
- To solicit technical, financial, social, legal and other support required for the activities of the Foundation for achieving the above said objectives.
- To augment and mobilise financial resources including recycling of entry and such other fees received in a tiger reserve, to foster stake-holder development and eco-tourism.
- To support research, environmental education and training in the above related fields.
- Running of all Ecotourism activities, Eco-shops, maintenance of infrastructure and also wages to local tribal engaged in these activities.
- Community development activities in adjoining areas of Tiger Reserve.
- Awareness campaigns – Wildfire mitigation, COVID-19 awareness, Medical Camps, Financial Inclusion Camps, Job Oriented Trainings etc.
- Educational assistance to meritorious students.
- Assistance for promoting self-employment among Tribal Youth.
- Financial assistance to Anganawadies and Tribal School.
- Operating an Ambulance to serve the local community.
- Medical assistance to watchers, tribals, promoting institutional deliveries etc.
- Death cum retirement gratuity for watchers and naturalists.
- Employing a Tribal Education coordinator.
- Maintenance of Protection related infrastructure.
- To reward and award Best Performing Staff members.
- Conducting Species Surveys and All Kerala Tiger Monitoring Program.
- Providing sponsorship, loans and grants to sister organizations.
- Documentation, Publication and Exhibition of the activities of Parambikulam Tiger Reserve.
- To celebrate/commemorate important days ancillary to Wildlife/Nature Conservation.
- Conducting Nature Camps for students belonging to various social groups.