Forests 2011 :

India, with a wide range of climate, geography & culture, is unique among biodiversity- rich nations. The panorama of Indian Forests ranges from evergreen tropical rain forests in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, the Western Ghats and north- eastern states to dry alpine areas in Himalayas in the north and between these two extremes, the country has semi-evergreen, deciduous, subtropical and thorn forests.

Green Facts of the Country

Key Challenges to the Forestry Sector in India:

With 17% of world's population, and 18% livestock population over 2.4% of world's total geographical area, India's forests are facing severe biotic pressures as nearly 40% of domestic fuel wood needs of the people and 30% of fodder needs of the cattle population in the country are met from forests. The demand and the supply gap of timber, fuel wood and fodder is widening. Shifting cultivation (slash & burn cultivation) practiced over about 1.2 m ha., though associated with socio-cultural, legal and bio-physical characteristics, is also cause of degradation of forests predominately in eastern & north- eastern India. To deal with the stupendous task to overcome the problems forests are facing, National Forest Commission has recommended allocation of minimum 2.5% of national budget to the forestry sector. Concern over inadequate role of elected Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) vis- a vis Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs) in forest management, limited involvement of non-profit making voluntary sector, control over Minor Forest Products, implementation of Forest Right Act and PESA are some of the issues frequently voiced with little recognition for the tremendous efforts made to maintain forest cover in the present conflicting scenario. Some of these issues are expected to be addressed once the JFMCs are recognized as part of Gram Sabha and legal back up is provided to them.

A Multi-sectoral and Multi-stakeholder Approach to the Forest Management:

The Forestry sector recognizes its increasing role to provide sustained benefits to the people and strives to attain it by integrating new frontiers of knowledge & science in planning, management, research & capacity building with forest management. Besides programmes of State Forest Departments for the regeneration of forests & wildlife conservation and afforestation programmes of other ministries of the Government of India, Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) has launched many initiatives for restoration of degraded forests and management of wildlife by taking mult-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach. JFM approach of "Care & Share" draws its strength from National Forest Policy 1988 and subsequent guidelines of MoEF in 1990, 2000 and 2002, which lay emphasis on the involvement of local communities in protection, afforestation and sharing of benefits with the communities. National Afforestation Programme (NAP) is a flagship afforestation programme of National Afforestation & Eco-development Board (NAEB) in the ministry, which is being implemented through Joint Forest Management Committee (JFMCs) under the umbrella of Forest Development Agency (FDAs) in each forest division and State Forest Development Agency (SFDAs) in the State. National Mission for a Green India also proposes increased forest and tree cover on five million hectares of degraded lands and improved quality of forest cover over another five million hectares besides increasing forest based livelihood, enhanced Carbon di-oxide sequestration and benefits from ecosystem services. The involvement of non-profit making voluntary sector in Greening India, eco-development forces constituted from among retired defence personnel for afforestation of sensitive areas, integrated habitat development of wildlife areas, Integrated Forest Management scheme to improve the infrastructure of forest departments are some of the continuing efforts in this direction. The professionals, who manage the forest resources, are being regularly provided with the cutting edge knowledge, technology and skills to deal with new challenges. Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy (IGNFA) Dehradun, FRI Deemed University, Dehradun, Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM) Bhopal, Indian Council & Forestry Research & Education (ICFRE), State Forest Training School and state forest institutions are making extensive efforts to fulfill the knowledge gap. Forest Conservation Policies and constitution of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and National Tiger Conservation Authority are other few efforts in the direction of forest and wildlife conservation.