Foundation for Ecological Security

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"Purposefully managed commons play an important role in reducing vulnerability and act as reserves on which people can fall back for subsistence and income generation during times of hardships. Efforts for improving productivity and health of the commons do help in stabilizing and improving the agriculture based livelihoods and an effective and encompassing strategy would be to supplement this effort with an array of livelihood choices geared towards helping the marginalized and women to have better control over their lives.

We promote the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources, forests and water in particular, through local self- governance institutions. The crux of our efforts lie in locating forests and other natural resources within the prevailing economic, social and ecological demands at the level of villages and village conglomerates, and amalgamating principles of conservation and local self governance to safeguard the natural surroundings and improve the living conditions of the poor. In essence, we see the role of our organisation in centre- staging an ecological agenda in an economically dominated world view, reorienting progress with a conservation and social justice perspective and presenting local visions and voices at local and global levels.

FES presently works with 1402 village institutions in 26 districts across six states, and assists the village communities in protecting the 96,933 hectares of revenue wastelands, degraded forest lands and Panchayat grazing lands (Charagah lands). Outside the Government FES is probably the only organization that works on Commons at this scale.

Areas of interest are:

• Establishing institutional design principles and mechanisms that provide space for the poor. Developing linkages between village level institutions and the umbrella institution of Panchayats, and integration of natural resource management plans by Panchayats.

• Improving rural livelihoods particularly of the poor and marginalized so as to meet the subsistence requirements and increase household incomes from agriculture, forests and other allied livelihoods.

• Reviving the criticality of forests and other common lands and locating inter-linkages with the associated production systems, thereby highlighting the value of forests and water for the sustenance of farming and safeguarding subsistence livelihoods.

• Strengthening platforms for discussion at a village and inter-village level by inviting government functionaries, academia and larger civil society"


"Spread across diverse ecological and social geographies, FES works towards conservation of nature and natural resources through collective action of local communities. The crux of FES’ efforts lie in locating forests and other natural resources within the prevailing economic, social and ecological dynamics in rural landscapes. Globally, FES hopes to see an increasing influence on two fundamental issues in governing shared natural resources – a ‘socio-ecological systems’ approach and a ‘Commons paradigm’, which together could have far-reaching impact on world views on ‘development’.

In India, FES has played a pioneering role in furthering the concept of Commons as an effective instrument of local governance, as economic assets for the poor and for the viability of adjoining farmlands. It has also highlighted that by strengthening the institutional dimension, the collective action spins off from effectively managing natural resources to other spheres of village life such as education, health and access to economic opportunities.

The three fundamental dimensions or cornerstones of FES are:

  • Ecological Restoration: Conserving nature, restoring and managing natural resources, such as land and local biodiversity, hydrological and nutrient cycles;
  • Commons and Community Institutions: Strengthening institutions and enhancing the capacity to self-govern, promoting inclusionary processes and collective decision-making;
  • Rural Livelihoods: Securing livelihoods that are dependent on natural resources, and assisting communities to determine and adopt consumption levels within the ecological capacity of the area.

FES presently works with 8,845 village institutions in 31 districts across eight states, and assists the village communities in protecting more than 2.6 million acres of common lands including revenue wastelands, degraded forest lands and Panchayat grazing lands (Charagah lands). We support Panchayats and their subcommittees, Village Forest Committees, Gramya Jungle Committees, Water Users Associations and Watershed Committees in order to improve the governance of natural resources. Regardless of the form of the institution, we strive for universal membership and an equal access of women and poor in decision making."