Monastery into wildlife conservation

Lhagyala Monastery declares part of its forest as Community Conserved Area 

 Mon-Lhagyala Buddhist Cultural Society (MLBCS) and the Kalaktang Tsopa, a confederation of more than 20 Monpa villages, have unanimously decided to set aside a significant proportion of the forests belong to the Lhagyala monastery for biodiversity conservation.

The MLBCS declared the proportion of forests as Mon-Lhagyala Community Conserved Area (MLCCA) during an event organised in Domkho village on 26 April 2017. This is probably the first instance in the region where a monastery takes interest to set aside its forest resources and declares it as a CCA for the long-term management and sustainable livelihood purposes.

The DFO of Shergaon forest division formally inaugurates the CCA and lauded the efforts of local community. “This is a good beginning and noble efforts by the people of Domkho and other villages” he appreciates and extends his support towards this effort. The president of Kalaktang Tsokpa and executive members of MLBCS also attended the CCA inauguration event.  

The MLCCA, named after the Lhagyala gonpa (Monastery), falls under the Kalaktang circle of West Kameng district covering an area of 85 sq km. The elevation of the CCA ranges between 2500m and 4000m covering both the temperate and the sub-alpine biomes. It is an important habitat of the red panda (Ailurus fulgens), alpine musk deer (Moschus chrysogater), high altitude pheasants, Asiatic black-bear (Ursus thibetanus), forms the catchment of Domkho Ri (river), crucial water sources for the Domkho-Morshing valley and the downstream.

The conservation area extends upto the international boundary of Bhutan. Importantly, the CCA shares it western boundary with the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary of Bhutan that owns some of the vast, pristine mixed conifer forests tracts and the diversity of Rhododendron species that is said to the highest in the country!

WWF-India has been supporting the local communities and the MLBCS to secure forests for species conservation and long-term management to address livelihood needs of the people. WWF-India will further work with the people and the society to strengthen management practices and define resource use protocols. The CCA model is an important tool that can be effective in the state like Arunachal Pradesh where more than 60% forest (roughly 30,000 sq km) belongs to local community and governed by their traditional customary laws.  

About the Lhagyala Gonpa (Monastery)

It is situated at the mountainside overlooking the Domkho/Morshing valley. The term ‘Lhagyala’ means repository of more than hundred large icons. It is culturally a very significant monastery for the entire region and is older than even the Tawang monastery, having been established by the Kachen Lama in the 7th century.

CCA Management

The CCA is managed by the Mon-Lhagyala Buddhist Cultural Society. The Society currently bans any form of hunting and illegal/ commercial extraction of forest resources from the CCA. Violation of this order will be a punishable offence under the provision of customary laws of the Tsokpa and the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.