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India not tapping its forest potential properly: WB

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 3 (UNI) Pointing out that India's forests have great potential for poverty reduction, a World Bank report today said that with greater community control over their management, income from forest produce could rise to two billion US dollars per annum in 2020.

The estimated increase in income from forests can result from the current community-based Joint Forest Management(JFM) programme that covers 27 per cent of the country's total forest area, encompassing 85,000 village communities, the WB said.

The Report titled 'India: Unlocking Opportunities for Forest-Dependent People' released to the press here today, has, while launding the JFM concept, also pointed out some shortcomings to be removed to make the initiative yield better results.

It said the JFM model was at present weighed in favour of state forest department control over planning management, investment, harvesting and marketing.

Most communities participating in JFM fail to tap the potential of forests to improve local livelihood. Forests are mainly used as safety nets during difficult economic periods, or for seasonal subsistence products like fulewood and fodder.

Moreover, state forest marketing institutions tend to be inefficient and limit communities from more direct market access that could yield higher incomes, the report said.

The current JFM model does not fully recognise the unique needs and characteristics of forest dwellers, who are among the poorest groups in society.

The Report found that communities often view JFM as imposing external rules that ignore existing management institutions governing prudent use of natural resources that incorporate local knowledge and cultural context.

In view of all this, the Report has recommended more secure tenure and management rights for forest dwellers, stressing that community-based forestry must be supported by more effective management, planning, mapping and research systems that meet local needs.

It has also called for liberalising market system for community based forestry and aligning it with ongoing transitions and reforms in agricultural marketing.

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