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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Conservation and Management of Forests

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Protection, preservation and development of forests together with the sustainable use of forest resources are called as conservation and management of forests.

The need and importance of conservation and management of forests is being felt the world over. Different countries are trying to conserve and manage their forests. Governments have framed their forest policies and have enacted laws to protect forests whereas local communities in different parts of the world are making their own efforts for the protection and management of their forests by making plans of their own.

Forests control and affect the global environment also. Hence, nations of the world have planned to protect global forests through joint efforts.

Global scenario of Conservation and Management of Forests
Forests control and maintain global as well as local environmental processes. The Stockholm Conference of 1972, values forests as 'largest, most complex and self- perpetuating ecosystems".

The conference made following recommendations-
     . Countries of the world should strengthen basic and applied research for improved forest planning and management with emphasis on environmental functions of forests,
     .Countries of the world should modernise their forest management concepts by including multiple functions and reflecting the cost and benefits of the amenities provided by forests,
     . Countries of the world should incorporate environmental values in land use and forest management, and
     . Countries of the world should establish appropriate monitoring systems for continuous surveillance of the forest cover of the earth.

Following the Stockholm Conference (1972), many countries in the world banned cutting of trees in view of conservation and management of their forests and the devastating natural calamities like landslide and flooding. The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has focussed attention on the role of forests in controlling world climates and changes occurring in them. Parties to UNFCCC have reached to an agreement on rules and modalities for accounting the roles of forests.

Now the world community is focussing on the Sustainable Forest Management (SFM). According to this management scheme, countries of the world should utilize their forest resources keeping in minds the needs of future generations. By 2000, nine international initiatives were launched incorporating the development of implementation of schemes in 85 percent forests on the global level. An Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) and Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) have worked for common management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests under United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (1997-2000). A United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) was formed in October 2000.

According to a report of United Nations Environment Programme, different countries of the world have prepared ambitious plans of Afforestation. Here are some examples-
1. The Chinese Afforestation Programme began in 1970s.The forest cover in this country was 13.9 percent in 1993 which went up to 17.5 percent by 2000. The total area under forest cover by 2001 reached up to 46.7 million ha.
2. Within the period of the next ten years, Viet-Nam has decided to generate 5 million ha of additional forests.
3. The Philippines has prepared a Master Plan of forestry to generate 5 million ha of forests within the period from1990 to 2005.
4. China's plantation target between the periods from 1996 to 2000 is 9.7 million ha.
5. The plantation target of Australia by 2020 is 3 million ha.
The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and natural resources) and the WWF(World Wide Fund for nature) together with the Food and Agricultural Organisation(FAO), are surveying the status of forests of the world and are launching projects for the conservation and management of forests across the globe. 
Indian Scenario of Conservation and Management of Forests
The forest cover in India is 6, 75,538 sq km which constitutes 20.55 percent of its geographical area. When we compare the forest cover assessment of 2001 with that of 1999, we come to know that there is an increase of six percent which constitutes an increase of1.16 percent of India's geographical area. The Government of India has introduced a number of programmes to increase the forest cover up to thirty percent of its geographical area. A National Afforestation and Eco Development Board were constituted in August 1992 in order to expand forest generation in the country.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, has constituted the National Forest Commission on 7 February 2003. This commission reviews the working of Forest and Wildlife sector. Now, if someone wants to divert a forest land for non forest purposes, he is bound to take permission from the Central Government under the Forest (conservation) Act, 1980.The Indian Government introduced Joint Forest Management (JFM) in 1990. Under this programme, about 45000 village communities in 21 states, are managing more than11 million ha of the degraded forests. The Central Government has formulated an Integrated Forest Protection Scheme by merging "Forest Fire Control and Management", and "Bridging of Infra structure Gaps in Forestry Sector in eastern region and Sikkim". This scheme has been extended to all the states and union territories during the tenth Five Year Plan.

A Government Initiative of afforestation in Jharkhand

Conservation and Management of Forests by Local Communities
The communities living near forests remain dependent on them for their livelihood. On the other hand, now they are being increasingly aware of the roles of forests in the environment. Hence, they tend to oppose every stress on their forests caused by contractors and other people including the government officials. The CHIPKO (1973, Uttarakhand), the APPIKO (1983, Karnataka), the social fencing of Shivalik Hills (1986), the Silent Valley Movement (1963, Kerala) and Joint Forest Management (J.F.M.) in West Bengal (1981, Midna Pur, Bankura and Purulia districts), are some examples of conservation and management of forests through the efforts of local communities in India. Inspired by the J.F.M. in Bengal the Joint Forest Management was introduced in India, on government level in 1990.

There are several examples of management of forests by local communities on the global level also. More than 500 000 ha of forests in Viet-Nam have been given in the charge of indigenous people fighting for their rights on forests. In Philippines too, a system of Integrated Protected Areas have been developed which protects the biodiversity involving local communities in the management of forests. In Jharkhand (India) too, the local tribal people (including tribal women) in different areas, have started taking charge of the conservation and management of local forests.

Some Measures to Conserve Forests
     1. The extraction of timber should be done judiciously and it should not interfere with the local watersheds.
     2. Felling of trees should be minimized and it should be matched by planting of trees.
     3. The use of fire wood should be discouraged and alternate sources of energy should be promoted.
     4. Modern techniques of promotion, protection and regeneration of forests like promotion of silvi- culture, disease and pest management, weed control, breeding of endangered tree species and application of techniques of tissue culture should be promoted.
     5. Forest conservation and management rules should be enforced properly.
     6. All the interference in forests should be banned completely.
     7. Poaching and hunting of wild animals should be banned.

Legal Provisions for Conservation and Management of Forests in India
 The Indian forests are protected through a definite Forest Policy since 1894, which has been revised twice, in 1952 and in 1988 respectively. It is aimed at protection, conservation and development of forests.

Besides the Indian Forest Policy, our forests are also protected by a number of legal provisions like Indian Forest Act,1927; Forest(conservation) Act,1980;Forest (conservation) Rules,2003 etc. In July2002, the Ministry of Environment and Forest made a separate wing entitled Animal Welfare Division. The central government has established State Animal Welfare Boards in 24 states and union territories. Another step forward is, the National Afforestation and Eco –Development Board, which was established in August 1992.

Key Words: conservation, management, forest, JFM, UNFCCC, Jharkhand, National Afforestation and Eco-development Board, IUCN

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