SKOCH Award Nominee
Category: Other – State Owned Enterprise
Sub-Category: subOther – State Owned Enterprise
Project: Joint Forest Management, A people’s Movement in Bengal
Start Date: 1991-05-17
Organisation: West Bengal Forest Department
Respondent: Mr Niraj Singhal, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Managing Director
Joint Forest Management
JFM Forest Department of West Bengal has succeeded in achieving the goal of biodiversity conservation in the true sense. The rate of degeneration of naturally grown Sal forest has been reduced which is now growing back healthily. As a result, poor people living in forest fringe areas have been able to improve their economic status in a technically feasible, socially acceptable, economical and eco-friendly manner.
South West Bengal being a tribal influenced has areas where people are still living far away from the glitters of technology. The forest fringe populations were dependent on firewood collection from forests to support their daily fuel needs and livelihood. They were so habituated in their forest areas that any sort of meddling by authorities used to result in conflicts. All these conflicts and lack of awareness were leading to the losses of fertile top soil resulting in the degeneration of Sal forests.
Through JFMCs, Forest fringe populations were taken into confidence and they have become an integral part of forest protection as well as part of forest management. To support their fuel needs, they are provided with the lops and tops of trees and for their financial security, the net sale proceeds of the forest produce are provided. They are also involved in the auctioning process for greater transparency and empowerment.
The project resulted in the provision of 40% of the net sale proceeds to stakeholders after timber harvesting operations. The Biodiversity index has improved in these forest areas over the last 3 decades. The incidence of conflict improved drastically between fringe people and the forest department as JFMC committees received 42.24 crores in 2021-22 as JFMC share.
The big challenge was to convince the forest fringe population that they can be an integral part of the whole forest management process. Gaining the trust of the people and formulation of an eco-friendly and socially acceptable resolution was a big challenge. Even after the formulation of the resolution, getting legislation in this regard was a big challenge. Initially, most people were quite skeptical about whether this JFM will lead to further deterioration of forests and whether it will be able to achieve the goal for which it had been formulated.
The idea of the Sale of forest produces through a transparent MIS platform of e-auction and to use of technology in the management process, such as GIS-based marking, mechanized harvesting etc was an innovative step. Also, the money was directly transferred to the stakeholder’s accounts through ECS.
The department plans to facilitate the active involvement of JFMC members in the ecotourism and training of Women’s self-help groups based on their existing knowledge or skill to earn their livelihood.
As per the Forest Survey of India Reports, every year the state has shown an increase in forest/green cover and the success of this is deeply rooted in the Joint Forest Management through peoples’ participation.
For more information, please contact:
Mr Niraj Singhal, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Managing Director at firstname.lastname@example.org
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