The debate over the extent to which tribals and other indigenous communities have the right to use natural resources found in and around their traditional habitat is one which continues to take place even today. The present paper discusses this very issue in the context of the Bhotia, a tribal community living in the Himalayan foothill state of Uttaranchal (India); their rights to extract and use medicinal plants vis-à-vis the country's forest policy banning it; the issue of conservation of biodiversity and the place of local communities in such endeavours; the plight of the local forest dwellers in the wake of non-recognition of their rights on the forests, and their interaction with this situation. An attempt has also been made to put forward a few suggestions to solve this continuing and nearly universal problem in an amicable way not only among the Bhotia but also among other indigenous groups facing a similar situation. The paper is chiefly based on primary data collected through in-depth interviews, discussions and observations on the selected group.
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