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Sunday, March 14, 2010

A unique example of Joint Forest Management from Nagaland, India

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Situated in the North –East region of the Indian Union, Nagaland is a unique state in terms of its topography, soils, forests, wildlife and other resources of environment. The management of the natural resources of the state is mostly vested with the public as these have been considered to be the common property. Accordingly, the people had framed their own social norms, rules and regulations for the utilization of natural resources.

Image :  A forest in Nagaland

 As per the ‘Nagaland: State of Environment’- report-2001, approximately 8, 62,930 ha of area is occupied by forests in this state. Of this, about 11.7 percent of the forests are accounted for the Government. It has been reported that both the reserved and the community owned forests have been exploited unscientifically and haphazardly since a long time and even the sanctuaries and parks have never been free from encroachment. But now the farmers, who were ones blamed for disturbing the ecology of their areas through Jhoom cultivation, have started a revolution by planting trees in their fields along with their crops.

People’s participation and involvement in the development and protection of natural forests have been envisaged in the National Forest Policy of India. In the Policy Document it is stated that the Forest Communities should be motivated to identify themselves with the development and protection of forests from which they derive fuel wood, fodder, and small timber such as house building materials etc.       On March 5th 1997, a Joint Forest Management Programme was launched by the Government of Nagaland and the people vide Notification No. FR-153/80

Objectives of joint forest management

The objectives of the Joint Forest Management in Nagaland are mentioned below.
1. Creation, management and protection of plantations along mountain slopes and in areas where trees are in lesser density or in Jhoom Fields.
2. Achieving the Ecological needs coherent to sustainable productivity of wood and other non- timber forest resources.
3. Weaning away the land owning communities from Shifting Cultivation or the Jhoom cultivation by adopting an alternative.
4. Productive utilization of the degraded Jhoom- land thereby checking soil erosion.
5. Conservation of biodiversity through People’s Actions.
6. Creation and generation of Forest Based Economy for villages.

Community JFM- Committees
As per the Resolution on Joint Forest Management (JFM) in Nagaland, Joint Forest Management Committees have been formed in all the districts of the state. The Record of some of the   Community- Forest Management Committees are listed below-
In different divisions also, more committees have been formed for the protection and regeneration of forests. Trainings are being given to officials and community members on various aspects of JFM by the Departments of Forests/ Agriculture/ Horticulture/ Village Development Boards etc. Some of the important aspects of Joint Forest Management on which trainings are being imparted to officials and community members are -

1. Theoretical background of JFM;
2. The method for micro-planning through Participatory Rural Appraisal;
3. Various issues such as gender equality, equity in distribution of resources;
    4. Resolution of conflicts arising out during community based management of forests and   distribution of forest resources.

Image : A scene of deforestation in Nagaland

Integrated Village Afforestation and Eco Development Scheme
The Government of Nagaland is on its way to implement various Forestry Development Schemes in consonance of the sound principles of Joint Forest Management under the Department of Forests, Ecology, Environment and Wildlife since September 1999. In view of implementing forest regeneration, protection and development programmes through community participation in the entire state, different Forest Development Agencies (FADs) have been registered and facilitated to submit the detailed Project Reports to the Government for the sanction and release of funds under the Integrated Village Afforestation and Eco-Development Scheme (“ Samanvit Gram Vanikaran Samriddhi Yojna”) of the government. A number of projects are being implemented in different parts of the state according to the norms fixed by the central and state governments.

The objectives of the Integrated Village Afforestation and Eco Development Scheme of the Government are mentioned below-

1.      To control the removal of forest produce from forest areas by making the community responsible for monitoring removals of forest produce etc. from the forest areas,
2.      To provide sustainable and assured employment  opportunities to the tribal people living in or adjacent to such areas,
3.      To create the durable assets for tribal population that contribute overall eco development in the area,
4.      To motivate the local population towards the participation in the implementation of schemes of regeneration, development, caring and monitoring etc of forests.
5.      To facilitate the rural youth to develop self- income generation activities so that they may not be dependent on forests for the same,
6.      To check the degradation of environment and erosion of land,
7.      To increase the area under forest cover and to facilitate the development of biodiversity and its conservation,
8.      To protect wild animals and to stop all types of cruelties to them.
Key Words : Nagaland, north-east, JFM, erosion, Samanvit Gram Vanikaran Samriddhi Yojna,biodiversity,Forest Development Agencies, Community- Forest Management,micro-planningParticipatory Rural Appraisal

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