Management of Forests


Keshav Bhatia, Academic Content Writer at Edumarz

The goals and needs of all stakeholders need to be accounted for if we are aiming for sustainable management of our forests, forest produce is made available for industrial use at a rate far below the market value while access to this is denied to the local people.

We are going to study two famous cases to improve our understanding of sustainable management of Forests and the ways we can achieve that by keeping all the stakeholders in mind:

  1. The Chipko Adolan was a success of a grassroots level effort to end the alienation of people from their forests. 

  • Hug the Trees Movement was started in a village called Reni in Garhwal, during the 1970s.

  • What happened was the Villagers opposed and confronted the logging contractors who secured a contract to fell trees in their village. On one day, the contractor noticed that the menfolk were absent in the village and tried cutting down the trees taking help from his workers. 

  • To stop the felling of trees the brave women folk of the village gathered and hugged the trees(clasping the tree trunks), which prevented the workers from cutting down the trees. This movement came to be known as the Chipko Andolan which then spread all over India

  • The revolt by the villagers had something inherent in it, it is the idea of conservation of a replenishable resource, and the method of use was being called into question specifically.

  • The contractors would have destroyed the replenishable resource for forever by cutting the tree down.

  • Contrary to that, the villagers traditionally lop the branches and puck the leaves of the trees, allowing this precious resource to replenish over time.

Result of the Chipko Movement 

  • The movement quickly spread all over India and especially across the forest-dependent communities and the media. 

  • This forced the government to re-think their priorities in the use of forest produce.

  • The whole Nation was made conscious of the various negative consequences of deforestation.

People know through experience that deforestation is not limited to the loss of forest produce or less availability of forest products, it has wide-ranging consequences some of which are damage to soil quality, soil erosion, damage to water sources, and water quality.
The participation of local people is very important for the efficient management of forests.

  1. Transformation of the Sal Forest

  • The West Bengal Forest department recognized the massive failure they made in managing the Sal forests in the south-western districts of the state in 1972.

  • There was a complete alienation of the people from the administration, because of the absolutist practices of the administration, the practice of policing surveillance led to frequent and bitter confrontations between the forest officials and the locals.

  • This mismanagement and the bitter confrontations between the forest officials for land and forests were being used by Naxalites to fuel the militant peasant movements in that region.

  • The Forest department changed its policy of surveillance and policing, instead what they did was involve the local populace in the management of the forest. An earnest and far-sighted forest officer named A.K Banerjee insisted on this policy change, he would become known as the father of Joint Forest Management later in his life due to his brilliance and the success of his efforts.

  • They made a beginning in the Arabari Forest Range of Midnapore district, 1272 hectares of badly degraded sal forest was to be under the care of both the locals and the forest department.

  • The policy was simple: the Villagers would help protect the forests and in return, they would get 25% of the final harvest, and employment in both silviculture(silviculture is the management of forests for proper growth and quality produce) and harvesting.

  • They were also allowed to collect fodder and firewood on the payment of a nominal fee.

  • The efforts of the forest department and the policy change finally paid off, the villagers protected the forest with active and willing participation, this resulted in the Arabari sal forest undergoing an astonishing recovery. This previously worthless forest was valued at Rs 12.5 Crores in 1983.

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