Kolkata

Research paper calls for change in India’s forest policy: D-G Forests

A view of the Kanha National Park.  

Director General of Forests Sanjay Kumar has said a research paper which advocated for sustainable forest management based on certification and a policy characterised by restoration, conservation and production equally was relevant in making a “strong case” for amendment in the forest policy.

Mr. Kumar on June 28 wrote to senior officials including Inspector Generals of Forests (Forest Policy), (Forest Conservation) and (Survey and Utilisation) to take follow-up action once a vetted review by experts on the paper titled the ‘Impact of forest policies on timber production in India: a review’ was received from the Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), Bhopal.

The paper, published in 2016 in the Natural Resources Forum, a United Nations Sustainable Development Journal, while illustrating the potential of timber production from trees outside forests (TOFs) — grown outside government recorded forest areas (RFAs) — points to the lack of reliable data relating to growing stock, consumption and production of timber, which constrained forecast of supply and demand projections.

Domestic timber production slumped while imports soared after decades of policies focused on production instead of conservation, following a 1996 Supreme Court order which regulated logging in government forests. The imports affected domestic pricing patterns, said the paper. “The import-export policy of the country should be reviewed to rectify the pricing in the market so that it is economically viable to grow trees on farmlands,” the authors suggested.

The domestic demand of timber, they said, was growing owing to increasing population and per capita GDP. And the dependency on imports could backfire as exporters worldwide were shifting to a conservation-based approach, warranting a revision in the Indian policy to boost domestic production.

‘Help rural economy’

Highlighting the pivotal role of TOFs in meeting demand, the paper quotes the India State of Forest Report (2011) which estimated timber production from government forests to be 3.17 million m³ and potential timber production from TOFs to be 42.77 million m³.

“Increasing wood production will also push carbon sequestration, and help in mitigating effects of climate change,” said Bhaskar Sinha, Chairperson, Centre for Climate Change Studies, IIFM, one of the authors besides Mili Ghosh, former PhD scholar. “Increasing timber production from TOFs can revive the rural economy.”

Mr. Kumar told The Hindu, “Every piece of information is important, particularly if it is coming from academics.”

The conservation policy, the paper said, must focus on maintaining ecological balance and improving biodiversity through protected area management. The restoration policy must target reclamation, rehabilitation and regeneration of degraded landscapes and wastelands.

Production forestry should focus on “sustainable increase in forest productivity from TOFs and RFAs”. To boost production through RFAs, the paper recommends, States must devise working plans and demarcate 10% of the forests for plantations. For TOFs, a synchronised nationwide policy could be developed.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 2:53:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/research-paper-calls-for-change-in-indias-forest-policy-d-g-forests/article32538021.ece

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