Chhattisgarh Forest Policy and conservation
The basic objectives that should govern the State Forest Policy are the following:
- Unlocking of the vast array of forest resources on sustainable basis for enhanced well-being of local people by converting these open access resources (OAR) into community controlled, prioritized, protected and managed resources.
- A shift in accent from major to minor forest produces, from crown to multi tier forestry and from flagship species to smaller denizens of the forests.
- Maintenance of environmental stability through preservation and where necessary, restoration of ecological balance that has been adversely disturbed by serious depletion of forests in the state.
- Conserving the Bio- cultural heritage of the state by preserving the biologically rich natural forests that provide the essential cultural milieu to the tribals of the state.
- Checking the denudation of forests and soil erosion in the catchment area of the rivers, and reservoirs for soil and water conservation; mitigating the floods and droughts; recharging of water bodies, aquifers and for the retardation of siltation of the reservoirs.
- Increasing the forest / tree cover in forest deficient districts through afforestation and agro forestry/ farm forestry programmes, especially on all denuded, degraded and unproductive lands.
- Meeting the requirements of fuel wood, fodder, minor forest produce and small timber of the rural and tribal population with due regard to the carrying capacity of the forests.
- The derivation of direct economic benefit from the forests of the state shall be subordinated to the requirements of the environmental stability and maintenance of ecological balance in the state.
- Creating appropriate policy and legal framework for the achievement of these objectives.
Essentials of forest management in chattisgarh
- Existing forests and forest lands should be fully protected and their productivity increased. It is necessary to promote efficient methods of timber harvest and utilisation to maximize economic returns from the forests.
- The network of national parks, sanctuaries, biosphere reserves and other protected areas should be strengthened and extended adequately for the conservation of total bio cultural diversity in the state.
- Targeting on broad range of goods and services in terms of physical, material, human, social, cultural and environmental assets in conjunction with appropriate entitlement regime, People’s Protected Area (PPA)envisions a proactive and people’s friendly framework to ensure long term protection and maintenance of biological diversity and providing at the same time a sustainable flow of natural products and services to meet local community needs. Therefore, a network of PPAs should be established as poor people’s pool of assets for strengthening livelihood security of forest dwellers.
- Provision of sufficient fodder, fuel and small timber to local people, especially in areas adjoining forests, is necessary to prevent further depletion of forests beyond their sustainable capacity. As fuel wood continues to be the predominant source of domestic energy in rural areas, the programme of afforestation should be intensified with special emphasis on augmenting fuel wood production to meet the requirements of the people. Furthermore, to reduce the pressure on forests due to increasing demand for fuelwood, its substitution by alternative sources of energy should be promoted.
- Minor Forest Produce (MFP) including medicinal plants provide sustenance to the tribal population and to other communities residing in and around the forests. Such produce should be protected, improved and their non-destructive harvesting methods enhanced with due regard to providing employment and income generation opportunities to the dependent people. MFP is the major source of livelihood of tribals and other forest based rural communities. Therefore, rather than exporting MFP in raw form, efforts should be made, as far as possible, to promote processing and value addition of the same, at the local level.
Strategy of forest management
Area under forests: The national goal is to have a minimum of one-third of the total land area of the country under forest or tree cover. Though the state has the rare distinction of having more than one third of its geographical area under forest, there are few districts, where the forest area is less than the norm, and where there is a need to expand the forest cover in addition to preserving the existing forest cover.
No forest should be permitted to be worked without a duly approved working/management plan, which should be in a prescribed format and in keeping with the National Forest Policy / State Forest Policy and the principles of sustainable forest management. The effects of forest management on forests should be periodically measured with the help of set criteria and indictors (C&I). The state should issue necessary guidelines to put in place a monitoring mechanism to ensure regular compliance of management/working plan prescriptions.
. In order to meet the growing needs of people for the essential goods and services that the forests provide, it is necessary to enhance the forest cover in forest deficient districts and to increase the productivity of the existing forests through appropriate scientific and technical inputs.
No exotic species should be introduced, through public or private sources, unless long-term scientific trials undertaken by specialists in ecology, forestry, sociology and agriculture have established that they are suitable and have no adverse impact on indigenous vegetation, ecology and bio cultural environment of the state.
Joint forest management (JFM) practices should form the basis of forest management in the state. Necessary provisions should be made for the adequate participation at all levels of decision making by the landless, marginal farmers and women in all JFM bodies like the VFC (Village Forest Committee), FPC (Forest Protection Committee) and EDC (Eco Development Committee).
For sustainable forest development, livelihood security and bio- cultural diversity conservation, People’s Protected Areas (PPAs) should be established. This paradigm shift of adaptive management can reconcile the dichotomy of threat perception arising out of conservation-development orthodoxy by taking into account the human sensitivities like their socio-cultural norms, beliefs and systems borne out of history, culture and traditions.
Management of Sal and Bamboo Forests
Sal and Bamboo forests in the state constitute an important component of the forest ecosystem of the state. The state has large chunks of ecotone forests between Sal and Miscellaneous forests requiring special management practices. Such forests are not only ecologically sensitive, but also provide bamboo and other basic needs that constitute the essential elements of the livelihood security of the poor and tribal people of the state. Therefore, special treatment of ecotone sal forests and the restoration of the degraded bamboo forests as well as the maintenance of good bamboo forests should be the state’s priority.
Conservation of Medicinal Plants
Forests have been the source of invaluable medicinal plants since the time man realized their preventive and curative properties and started using them for human health cover. In view of the richness of medicinal and herbal plants in the state, a mechanism should be developed for in situ and ex situ conservation, domestication and nondestructive harvesting with the active support from local people including traditional healers and vaidyas. The socio-cultural, spiritual and medicinal arena of the rural populace particularly the tribal should form the backbone of community based conservation and utilisation of medicinal and herbal plants.
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