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India's total forest income raises to US$ 2 bn per annum: World Bank

Written by: Staff
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Mumbai, Apr 9 (UNI) With greater community control over forest management, total income from forests in India could rise from an estimated US 222 million dollars in the year 2004 to approximately USD two billion per annum in 2020, said a newly-released World Bank report.

The community-based forestry offers vast potential for poverty reduction and rural economic growth in India, while also supporting critical national conservative goals, the report indicated. This is possible by undertaking effective reforms in managing community forest resources and improving forest productivity.

The report titled 'India: Unlocking Opportunities for Forest-Dependent People', estimates this potential will rise from the current community-based 'Joint Forest Management'(JFM) programme that covers 27 per cent of the national forest area across India, and encompassing 85,000 village communities.

It draws heavily on detailed background studies in Assam, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. The three states represent a good cross-section of JFM history, scale and implementation progress.

More secure tenure and management rights for forest dwellers.

Strengthened forest management, monitoring and control systems, access to more effective market systems, more effective and flexible institutional models.

Forests are the second largest land-use in India after agriculture. An estimated 275 million people in rural areas depend on forests for at least part of their livelihoods. Forest dwellers, which include a high portion of tribals, are among the poorest and most vulnerable groups in society.

India's community-based JFM forestry model continues to evolve, but most communities are not tapping the full potential of forests to improve their livelihoods and reduce poverty, the report observed.

World Bank Senior Natural Resource Management Specialist Grant Milne, one of the key authors of the report, said: ''With improved forest productivity and policy reforms for community forestry, many communities could earn up to Rs 10 lakh or more in cash income each year.'' Given improved technology and better market access, he said, many communities could evolve higher level of value added activities and generate even greater returns. Forests offer excellent potential for poverty reduction and rural economic growth in India, while also supporting critical national conservative goals.

The reforms, to be pursued under the joint forest management (JFM), are more secure tenure and protect management rights for forest dwellers. Therefore, states need to strengthen forest policies and grant stronger land or resource rights to communities.

That apart, other reforms are also strengthening forest management, monitoring and control systems. Community-based forestry must be supported by more effective management, planning, mapping and research systems that meet local needs, the report noted.

Market systems for community-based forestry need to be liberalised and more aligned with ongoing transitions and reforms in agriculture marketing, the report opined.

To develop more effective and flexible institutional models, targeted training and investment programmes should be implemented to help forest departments rationalise their roles and focus more on facilitation and technical advisory services, it added.

UNI SN SSS VKG0950

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