Information for G00345
Changing Ownership and Management of State Forest Plantations in India
This report follows an international conference held in Cape Town, South Africa in November 2002. The Indian forestry sector is facing major challenges such as degradation of forests, demand-supply gap and inadequate investment in the sector. Private sector involvement can supplement government's efforts in addressing these challenges. Forest-fringe communities are already working with state Forestry Departments under the Joint Forest Management (JFM) programme to protect and manage forest lands, including plantations. The experience with JFM has been encouraging in terms of regeneration of degraded forests and plantations and improved livelihood opportunities for the forest fringe communities. However, a number of steps are needed before the JFM programme gets institutionalised in the country. The most important of these is provision of a firmer legal basis to the programme. Further, considering that nearly a fifth of state forestland is already under JFM and the area is likely to increase in future, the potential for commercial production from these forests and linkages between FPCs and forest-based industries should also be explored. The current policy and legal framework does not encourage corporate private involvement on state forest lands. However, considering the unsatisfactory performance of most FDCs, involvement of the corporate sector in the management of existing commercial plantations with the FDCs may be explored. The productivity of these plantations can be substantially improved through better professional management expertise of the corporate sector. This would help ease the raw material shortages facing the industry. However, the corporate sector should be charged commercial rates for land and detailed guidelines should be prepared to ensure that local communities' interests are not compromised and adequate environmental standards are maintained. It is hoped that through these interventions private sector players can contribute significantly towards better management of state forests and plantations.