ATREE enables horizontal and vertical links between institutions to bring about necessary changes in governance and policies concerning the use and management of ecosystem services. The outcome is a network of institutions at the community level, engaging in dialogue and consultations with decision makers at various levels of administration.
ATREE has organized multi-stakeholder meetings to discuss political and legal issues, created awareness material for community institutions on relevant policy instruments, as well as policy briefs highlighting policy gaps and recommendations. Nepal has more progressive laws on access and tenurial rights to communities to manage their natural resources, and with the Forest Rights Act (2006), a similar policy framework has emerged in India. In a bid to borrow learning on community forestry and community based natural resource management practices from Nepal, a workshop was help held to discuss feasibility of applying this learning across the Sikkim-Darjeeling-Nepal landscape. This workshop has resulted in the formation of a working committee for transboundary cooperation, of which ATREE is a member.
ATREE, together with other local NGOs, has been working to horizontally link civil society organisations. The objective of this process has been to short-list pertinent issues related to conservation and livelihoods in Darjeeling. The network of NGOs will advocate policies related to good governance for managing natural resources. The issues short-listed by the network for action are:
ATREE has taken the lead on ecosystem services. As part of this, ATREE mapped natural springs in the Darjeeling area. The survey looked at conservation of these springs, and community involvement in management and distribution. As a result of a survey of existing ecotourism models across 15 ecotourism sites in Darjeeling and Sikkim, and interactions with various stakeholders, ATREE brought out a Position Paper on Ecotourism, which makes recommendations for policy approaches and guidelines for sustainable community based ecotourism in the Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalayas. At present, this approach for sustainable community based ecotourism is being piloted in three sites in the Darjeeling hills.