Forest is both ecological as well as economic resource. The socio-economic conditions, the poverty, the illiteracy, unemployment and under employment prevalent in the villages adjoining to the forest forced the people to use the resource as economic resource and never gave an opportunity to think of ecological relevance of the resource in the area. Efforts by the department to protect the resource in isolation resulted into conflicts with the locals and more damage to the forest resource leading to the degradation of the land resources. Realising the situation, efforts to involve local people in the protection and regeneration of the forests were initiated in south Gujarat especially in Vyara and Rajpipla forest divisions in the year 1986-87 based on the principle of care and benefits. The results were encouraging not only in the protection and regeneration of the forest resource but also in reducing the conflicts between the locals and the departmental personnel.
Based on the National Forest Policy, 1988 and. the guidelines thereon from the Government of India in June, 1990 regarding the involvement of the local communities and voluntary agencies in forest protection, management and regeneration to rejuvenate degraded forest lands, the Joint Forest Management (JFM) programme was launched in Gujarat vide government resolution in March 1991. Since than the activity of involving the people in the protection and regeneration of forests was expanded to other areas. Thus a decentralized approach of participatory management based on the broad principal of Care and Share is under progress and increasingly gaining recognition and acceptance as a major strategy for the eco-restoration and rehabilitation of the degraded forest land in the State.
Salient Features of JFM in Gujarat
The salient features of thc Government Resolution 1991 as modified in 1994 and 2000 are as under:
- Applicable to degraded forest areas only
- State Level Working group for policy level inputs,represented by officials/NGO’s and Academic Institutions generally meets once in six months.
- District Level Working Committees (for solving operational problems and resolving local conflicts) represented by officials, NGO’s and Village Level Organisations (VLO’s) meets once in two months.
- Community participation at village level. Implementation through a specially created Village Level Organisation (VLO).Minimum 60% of families of the village to join a VLO for making it eligible for Joint Forest Management.
- Gram Panchayat may also act as a VLO.
- VLO’s to be registered as co-operative society under”The Societies Act “.
- The Executive Committee will have at least two women members and a representative of concerned Panchayat, one representative of NGO( where NGO is facilitating ), one representative of funding agency ( if any)
- Involvement of NGO’s (Wherever associated / possible) for HRD support and organising VLO’s. The role of HRD support by GFD in the absence of NGO’s.
- Action Plan prepared to be approved by Deputy Conservator of Forests. Working scheme before harvesting. No working without sanctioned working scheme.
- Benefits to the members of VLO :
- 100% Usufruct benefits of intermediate products ( non wood ).
- 50% sharing of wood products between FD and VLO. – 50% sharing of net at final harvest.
- No monitory benefit to NGO’s.
- Provision of agreement between the FD and VLO’s.
- Provision of cancellation of Adhikar Patras, agreement or disqualifying VLO by Deputy Conservator of Forests without any compensation.
- Provision of appeal against the decision of Dy. Conservator of Forest to Conservator of Forest.
The status ending March, 2005 is as under
|No. of Van Kalyan Samiti||1734|
|No. of Samities Adhikar Patra given||1355|
|No. of Samities registered with Dy.Cr No.||1734|
|No. of Samities registered as Societies||488|
|Forest area allotted||2,38,242 ha.|
|No. of meetings (SL WG)||20|
The working under the Joint Forest Management has been appreciated by the Government of India (Gal) as three of the Van Kalyan Samities namely- Pingot, Bapda, Balethi and Motia have been awarded Priyadarshani Vriksha Mitra Award in recognition of their services for the protection and regeneration of the degraded forest.
|(1)||Development works in the form of entry point activities / support activities were carried out in the villages which include Land development works- land leveling Creation of minor irrigation facilities Drinking water facilities Energy saving devices such as Bio gas / gobar gas plants,solar cookers and solar lights, improved chullahas and improved crematories have been promoted. Distribution of grafted fruit trees Construction of school buildings and aganvadis Construction of Van Talavadiesl/Check Dams Fish rearing Construction of link road Community utensils Leaf cup machines|
|(2)||The grass and fire wood available due to protection is allowed to be taken free of cost. The more production of grasses and firewood is due to better management and protection from fire and grazing. In many villages (more than 20 % villages), some secondary economic activities have also started. The main activity is dairy due to increased fodder availability.|
|(3)||In about 20 villages, the bamboo crop on the forest land managed under JFM have been harvested and the benefits have been distributed to the members.|
The productive system
This includes the
- Enhancing the productivity of the forest land through
- Intensive ex-situ! in-situ soil and moisture conservation works
- Regulating the t,grazing in the area
- Controlling and checking the forest fires
- Reclamation of the otherwise unsuitable land
- Improving the productivity of the vegetation by
- Utilizing the available root stock for coppicing
- Planting site specific multipurpose suitable species
- Promoting multi-canopy plantation
- Proper silviculture system
- Tree improvement programme for quality seedling
- Promoting medicinal plants and other NTFP species
- Adopting suitable ago-forestry model
Participation of NGOs in the programme
Presently, the following NGOs are active in the JFM programme
- Agha Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP).
- Viksat, Ahmedabad
- Sadguru Foundation
- Development Support Center. Ahmedabad
NGOs are active in promoting facilitating the programme. Training programmes for Awareness Motivation, Human resource development Skill upgradation, Capacity building, Microplan preparation and Leadership development arc being organized in coordination with the NGOs to strengthen the programme. Microplanning through Participatory . Rural Appraisal (PRA) is organized jointly by the NGOs and the Department so as to make the people aware about the natural resources and their wise use. The department and the NGOs, separately or jointly are organizing training programmes and other HRD interventions to equip the Range Officers Foresters and the Beat Guard to deal with the conflicting roles expected from them and also for attitudinal behavioural changes both of the participating villagers and the forestry personnel’s. In general the programme comprises of
- Human resource development programme for the Foresters
- Motivation. exposure trips. shivirs. camps for the villagers
- Organizing community into institution
- Capacity building skill development for both i.e. FD & VI.
- Infra-structural support
- inter sectoral linkages
- Documentation of the progress
A center named Centre for Participatory Natural Resource Management( CPNAR) is working in the State at Gujarat Ecological and Environmental Research (GEER), Foundation to facilitate the progress of the programme.
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