Saturday, January 30, 2016

33 Joint Forest Management (JFM) as precursor. Forest Landscape Restoration in India-IV.

Joint Forest Management (JFM) as precursor to the landscape approach

Contemporaneously with the expansion of Indian forestry into the non-forest areas, individual forest officers had been experimenting with versions of the  joint forest management approach in different parts of the country (Saxena, 1997, p.45). The earliest such initiatives seem to have been those made in Arabari forest of West Bengal in the 1970s, and another early experiment was the formation of Hill Resource Management Committees to undertake soil and water conservation in the eroded hills around Sukhomajri in Haryana state.  Participatory approaches were also initiated in Gujerat, Orissa, and other states. These encouraging results, and the favourable environment provided by the 1988 forest policy,  prompted the Ministry of Environment & Forests (and Climate Change from 2014, hence MoEFCC) to issue the famous letter of 1 June 1990, exhorting all the states to take up JFM as a general programme. All externally-aided forestry projects from the 1990s (such as the DFID-funded Western Ghats Foresry Project, discussed below) have adopted JFM as their underlying principle and principal framework, as also the National Afforestation Programme (NAP), the ‘flagship’ scheme of the MoEF (see below). As a result, there are now over 120,000 JFM committees taking care of over 20 million hectares of forest (an estimate up to March 2010 is 112,816 committees covering 24.65 mha, see ICFRE, 2012, p.24).



(A pdf file of the entire article is available at https://www.academia.edu/21490696/Forest_Landscape_Restoration_in_India_Antecedents_experience_and_prognoses)
Since JFM in India has been one of the most prolific generators of papers and theses, it will not be necessary to recount its history in detail here, apart from a very brief account of its features (see Saxena, 1997, for an early account, and the author’s monograph, Dilip Kumar, 2014, for a more detailed analysis from the point of view of common property management and decentralization). The forest department places at the disposal of the village or hamlet community,  a tract of (degraded) forest, and works with the community over a period of a year or two to enroll members on the proposed Village Forest Committee (VFC). Every adult citizen is entitled to be an independent member; usually both male and female household heads are given individual membership. The committee usually has an elected Chairman or President from among the villagers, and a Secretary (usually the Forester) from the forest department (FD) to keep the records, write the cash accounts, and liaise with the government. The villagers get together to draw up a ‘micro-plan’ for a 10- or 20-year horizon, usually using a PRA-type exercise with the help of a local NGO that is compensated by the scheme  or project which is funding the programme. The micro-plan includes an assessment of the forest-related problems and needs, the state of the resource, ways to improve the supply-demand position of forest products and ensure long-term sustainability of the environmental services (especially water conservation), capacity building (training, workshops, visits to demonstration plots) and processing and marketing facilities, financial and physical resources required, management systems and protection regimes, etc. A significant part of the JFM regime is the authorization to share the incremental benefits with the community: in practice, this means that all the firewood and lops and tops, prunings, brushwood, etc. is taken by the villagers, as also all non-timber products (which have in any case been assigned to the Panchayats by law) and a portion of net revenues from final timber harvests (usually 50% to 75%). Wage labour payments are an added benefit where there is dearth of work. An important part of the exercise is the identification of so-called ‘entry-point activities’: perhaps repair of a foot-bridge or bridle path, restoration of a drinking water source, desilting of a pond, repairing a schoolroom, etc. The philosophy is that when the community sits down with the FD and the NGO, there will usually emerge some pressing non-forestry problems of their own, so that it would be difficult to talk of forestry matters (which are usually way down in their priorities) unless some solutions can be found for the immediate pressing problems. The provision of a discretionary fund for these is a good way to smoothen the way to setting up an effective village forest committee (the process is sometimes termed the ‘forest journey’), as it builds interest in the activity and confidence in the sincerity and competence of the sponsoring agency. Otherwise it will be taken as empty talk, especially as the benefits arising from forest protection tend to be fairly distant in time, entail some sacrifice in the current periods, and are often nebulous until some concrete instances are shown.

It can be appreciated that, in comparison with the Social Forestry/Farm Forestry (SF/FF) approach, the JFM/VFC framework is a closer approximation to the landscape approach we are discussing here. The JFM/VFC approach requires the community to be involved from an early stage in the programme (right from situation analysis, identification of issues, drawing up of plans) through implementation and garnering benefits. Further, all sectors are considered in the village micro-planning exercise, if at least peripherally. Especially when discussing entry-point activities, capacity building, livelihoods support, etc., it is expected that decisions will be taken either to integrate other schemes and projects, or at least to approach other departments and sources of funding or other support. Especially where an NGO is involved, there is a likelihood that other activities will be brought in, such as a medical camp or animal health camp, renewable energy (solar, improved stoves, biogas), etc. One of the common programmes is to initiate, and advance seed money to, a number of micro-savings and loan groups or Self-Help groups (SHGs), that may become quite active in other fields like processing and marketing of local produce. Forest restoration may in fact be only one of the benefits, and as agriculture improves (through water harvesting, better techniques, crops, infrastructure for processing etc.), the dependence on the forest may well go down. Another spin-off of improved agriculture is the reduction in periodic out-migration for wage employment, gradual down-sizing of ‘scrub’ cattle herds and switching to stall-fed, improved milch animals, and increased attendance of children in schools (who would otherwise have been assigned low-priority chores like grazing the scrub cattle and collecting dung).

National Afforestation Programme (NAP) and JFM

As the approach to forest development progressively veered to the participatory, bottom-up mode, the central schemes of the forest ministry also changed their character. The National Afforestation Programme (NAP) was  formulated by merger of four IXth Plan centrally sponsored afforestation schemes of the MoEF, namely, Integrated Afforestation and Eco-Development Projects Scheme (IAEPS), Area Oriented Fuel wood and Fodder Projects Scheme (AOFFPS), Conservation and Development of Non-Timber Forest Produce including Medicinal Plants Scheme (NTFP), and Association of Scheduled Tribes and Rural Poor in Regeneration of Degraded Forests (ASTRP), with a view to reducing multiplicity of schemes with similar objectives, ensuring uniformity in funding pattern and implementation mechanism, avoiding delays in availability of funds to the field level and institutionalising peoples participation in project formulation and its implementation.[1]   The NAP scheme is operated as a 100% Central Sector/ Centrally Sponsored Scheme by the National Afforestation and Eco-Development Board at the  Ministry (NAEB), set up in 1992. By 2011, 743 forest development associations (FDAs), a federation of JFM committees at the forest division level, had been operationalised, to treat some 1.23 mha as on 19.11.2007 (Ministry website, http://www.archive.india.gov.in/sectors/environment/index.php?id=9)
A comprehensive ‘Mid-Term Evaluation’ (MTE) of the NAP by the ICFRE Dehradun submitted in 2008 (available at http://naeb.nic.in/MTE-Complete_Report.pdf) found that the physical achievements were satisfactory, and that the entry-point activities, such as water conservation measures, wells, common utility buildings like school, anganwadi, primary health centre, eco-tourism, NTFP management, etc. have been well received, in the forest-fringe Village Forest Committees (including Eco-Development Committees, EDCs, in wildlife areas). “The programme, by and large, has been successful in mobilizing people in 28181 villages in forests protection and development activities covering over ten million hectare forests. It has worked well towards deepening of democratic ethos and their institutionalization through FDA-JFMC mechanism” (MTE, p.ii). Thus the FDAs have played a “catalytic role in development of rural production systems through improved irrigation, soil and moisture conservation, value addition in non-timber foresdt produce collection and processing, and enhanced biomass production”, resulting in successful protection of about 10 mha forests from illicit grazing, fire, etc. that are now “regenerating with vigour”. On the down side, the report comments that the micro-planning has been mainly restricted to forest schemes (and not truly multi-sectoral), training is seen to be somewhat  ad-hoc, and there are other weaknesses in the process.  JFM committees, like any  “nascent” institution, have been helped by capacity building exercises to understand the scheme, but “functioning of forest committees remain still beyond the grasp of a majority of forest committee members and forest department in majority of cases”, and there does not seem to be any clear idea of what will happen after the funding ceases (lack of an “exit strategy”). As estimated by Dr.Devendra Pandey for the India- Forest Sector Report 2010 (ICFRE, 2012), a cumulative total amount of Rs.23370 million was released over 8 years of the NAP until 2009-10, achieving about 1.69 mha afforestation; out of this some 40 to 45% is under Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR), and 35-40% under artificial regeneration and mixed plantation (other models include silvi-pasture development, bamboo and cane plantation, regeneration of herbs and shrubs, etc.). The revised 2009 guidelines (available at http://naeb.nic.in/NAP_revised%20Guidelines%20English.pdf) seek to address some of these issues.     

Criticism of the JFM approach

As with SF, the JFM programme has also attracted its share of the ire and disapproval of social environmentalists (for instance, Lele’s chapter is titled frankly “What is Wrong with Joint Forest Management?” in Lele & Menon, 2014; see also Lele, 2003). This is puzzling and disheartening to the forest department, which feels that the JFM/NAP has been a useful, and fairly successful, programme, and the improvement in forest cover after 1997 has been generally ascribed to the improved protection and fire prevention achieved by the VFCs. The disapproval seems generally to be based on the fact that the forest department still holds the reins, by monopolizing the Secretary post and controlling the bank accounts of the VFC, for example. Some observers also find that women’s interests are down-graded, as men prefer to go for cash returns from the timber harvest, and often put controls on collection of fuel and fodder, which is predominantly the women’s responsibility. Equity concerns are also pointed out, as landless families need income from collection, grazing, etc., which may be prohibited in the regenerating plots. These gender and equity effects are criticized as a flaw in the JFM set-up, which tends to favour landed, dominant sections of the village community.

However, foresters tend to discount such criticisms, on the ground that the VFC process also has a lot of support for livelihoods built in, such as capacity building and training for subsidiary occupations (both forest-based and otherwise), infrastructure building for processing and marketing (drying and threshing floors, work and storage sheds , transport, credit, minimum support price for certain products, etc.), especially where a project has more flexibility in the types of activities that can be funded. In the final analysis, the benefits of almost any rural programme tend to go disproportionately to the dominant elements (a feature already noted in the agriculture sector and the Community Development pragramme, by Myrdal, 1968, Vol.II; see pp.1344-45, 1367, for instance), but where support is given to activities not favoured by the better off (such as collection of low-valued forest products), the landless wage-earners are likely to be benefited.

Choice of Institutions: between community-based, state and panchayat

Social environmentalists, finally, demand the shift of VFCs from the control of the forest departments to the jurisdiction of the elected panchayats (or village general body, Gram Sabha). As explained by the author in his survey of VFCs and JFM in three states (Dilip Kumar, 2014), this antagonism to what are termed Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) outside the official panchayat raj institutions (PRI)system, is probably a creation of the social activists. The villagers themselves do not see any antagonism between CBOs and PRIs, as each has its role and status, and the CBO (VFC) is actually preferred by all the communities contacted in the above study. This is because the CBOs (such as the VFCs) are closer to the settlement or hamlet level of the community, where all the members are equal, and know each other and can take up joint activities, as posited by Ostrom (1990) and others. The village panchayats (the lowest rung of the PRIs) are much larger, are farther away from the village or hamlet, and are less responsive to the felt needs as they are meant to take up large infrastructure programmes of the state. In any case, the villagers like the sense of control they have in the CBO, and would like these to be independent of the PRIs so as to keep away the political divisions of the electoral process. Further it was commonly expressed that the two are not mutually incompatible, and can easily be reconciled by making the CBO based on the whole village general body (Gram Sabha), and designating it as a sub-committee of the PRI (se Dilip Kumar, 2014).




[1] (Operational Guidelines for the Tenth Five Year Plan, available at http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/NAEBwebst.pdf, and revised 2009 guidelines at http://naeb.nic.in/NAP_revised%20Guidelines%20English.pdf).


(A pdf file of the entire article is available at https://www.academia.edu/21490696/Forest_Landscape_Restoration_in_India_Antecedents_experience_and_prognoses)

References


Dilip Kumar, P.J. 2014. Managing India’s Forests: Village Communities, Panchayati Raj Institutions and the State. Monograph No.32. Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore. Available at http://www.academia.edu/9235210/Managing_India_s_Forests_Village_Communities_Panchayati_Raj_Institutions_and_the_State


Government of India. 1988. National Forest Policy. Resolution  No.3-1/86-FP dated 7 Dec 1988, Ministry of Environment  and Forests, New Delhi. Available at the ministry website, http://www.moef.gov.in/sites/default/files/introduction-nfp.pdf

ICFRE. 2008. Mid-Term Evaluation of the National Afforestation Programme. Published by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, Dehradun, on behalf of Ministry of Environment  and Forests, Government of India , New Delhi. Available at  http://naeb.nic.in/MTE-Complete_Report.pdf

ICFRE. 2012. Forest Sector Report India -2010. (Lead author Devendra Pandey). Published by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, Dehradun, on behalf of Ministry of Environment  and Forests, Government of India , New Delhi. Available at http://www.icfre.org/FSRI-REPORT_English.pdf

Lele, Sharachchandra. 2003. Participatory Forest management in Karnataka: At the Crossroads. Community Forestry, Vol.2, Issue 4, May 2003, p.4-11. Available at: http://www.ces.iisc.ernet.in/biodiversity/sahyadri_enews/newsletter/issue21/pdfs/PFM%20in%20Karnataka.pdf

Lele, Sharachchandra and Ajit Menon. 2014. Democratizing Forest Governance in India. Oxford University Press, New Delhi.

Myrdal, Gunnar. 1968. Asian Drama. An Inquiry Into the Poverty of Nations. Twentieth Century Fund, inc. Reprinted in India 1982, 2004, Kalyani Publishers, New Delhi.

NAEB. 2008. Mid term Evaluation of the National Afforestation Programme (NAP) schemes implemented through Forest Development Agencies (FDAs). Final report submitted by Directorate of Extension, ICFRE Dehradun to the National Afforestation and Eco-Development Board, Ministry of Environment & Forests, New Delhi. Available at naeb.nic.in/MTE-Complete_Report.pdf

NAEB. 2009. National Afforestation Programme Revised Operational Guidelines – 2009. National Afforestation and Eco-Development Board, Ministry of Environment & Forests, New Delhi. Available at http://naeb.nic.in/NAP_revised%20Guidelines%20English.pdf

NCA. 1976. Report of the National Commission on Agriculture. Part IX, Forestry. National Commission on Agriculture. Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Government of India, New Delhi. (Available at http://krishikosh.egranth.ac.in/bitstream/1/2041449/1/CCS323.pdf)

Ostrom, Elinor. 1990. Governing the Commons. The evolution of institutions for collective action. Cambridge Universities Press, Cambridge.

Saxena, N.C. 1997. The Saga of Participatory Forest Management in India. CIFOR Special Publication. Center for International Forestry Research, Indonesia. Available at www.cifor.org/publications/pdf_files/Books/SP-Saga.pdf


Friday, January 29, 2016

32 Social Forestry: strengths and weaknesses. Forest Landscape Restoration in India-III.

Social Forestry and its strengths and weaknesses

Social Forestry (with Farm Forestry) has been supported by the state and central schemes, by externally aided projects, etc., but it has not been given a good reputation by reports that dwell on shortcomings, such as this by Barnes et al. (1982): “Despite these hopeful reasons for social forestry, in practice many programs have been unsuccessful. In some cases, problems have plagued every stage in the reforestation  process from seedling distribution to harvesting trees.”
The public perception of social forestry as a failure has unfortunately been heavily conditioned by scholarly accounts like that of N.C.Saxena (1994) with the pithy title India’s Eucalyptus Craze: the God That Failed. This report of a doctoral study, undertaken by the author in 6 villages of Uttar Pradesh, documents that government-sponsored social forestry resulted mostly in planting by larger land owners, including absentee landlords, rather than the poor; and that the favoured species was eucalyptus, for commercial sale as poles or pulpwood rather than subsistence needs of the poor forest-dependents. The author records that after the initial planting spree during 1980-86, it was subsequently abandoned by the farmers due to a combination of factors, e.g. higher costs than expected, lower prices obtained, especially when there was a pile-up in supplies, problems in marketing due to diseconomies of bulk and grading, transit regulations on wood transport, competition from subsidized raw material supply to paper mills and domestic fuels like kerosene and gas, and so on. Hence the author’s verdict that the programme had failed the farmers.

(A pdf file of the entire article is available at https://www.academia.edu/21490696/Forest_Landscape_Restoration_in_India_Antecedents_experience_and_prognoses)

The forester’s reaction would be along the following lines: these ups and downs are a normal feature of market situations even in respect of horticultural and agricultural products (when tomato prices crash, farmers  in Kolar district of Karnataka are wont to throw tractor-loads onto the highways in dudgeon). In fact farm forestry has expanded remarkably in many regions of India since then, although there are periodic slumps that prompt farm forestry advocates to call for support price operations by government. In western UP (including the separate state of Uttarakhand), Punjab and Haryana, where the first experience was bad, agroforestry and farm forestry are now supporting a major wood industry of over a thousand  plywood and veneer plants in the small-scale sector with timber requirements of around 2.5 million cum (ICFRE, 2012, p.138), based on improved varieties of poplars in addition to eucalyptus, sissoo, acacia species, etc. High-yielding stock has been bred both by industry (e.g. Wimco, leading match manufacturers) and the forest research institute in Dehradun (see Saigal and Kashyap, 2002, for a good account of the farm forestry economy in two regions, the tarai of western UP and coastal Andhra Pradesh).Other states with extensive farm forestry include Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Gujerat. It is estimated by Saigal and Kashyap that around 50% of the wood supply in the country is coming from non-forest sources (op. cit., p.xv).

Social environmentalists generally fault social forestry projects for not having addressed equity and poverty alleviation issues, as the main benefit seems to have been garnered (or, in their view, cornered!) by the better off, especially absentee landowners, as there would be less labour and other inputs required, and the land could be safeguarded relatively easily by the perennial crop. Small and marginal farmers generally would not have much land to spare for tree crops, and agricultural labourers  may also have lost because of reduced labour demand with expansion of tree crops on larger holdings. The criticism is also made that instead of fuelwood and small timber for local needs, the bulk of the plantations were directed to industries (see the evaluation of the Karnataka SF Project, 1984-90, funded by the ODA and the World Bank)[1]. However, to the implementing agency, this would seem to be an unfair judgment, because the farmer is supposed to be free to take his own decisions. Obviously, he will go for the economically most promising crop, a behavior already marked by Gunnar Myrdal in his magnum opus on the south Asian economies (1968, Vol.I, p.441). Equally, he cannot be expected to reduce a high-valued product like timber into a lower-valued one like fuelwood, which in any case is mostly collected rather than bought. Even so, the lops and tops and leaf litter are usually left for collection by the poorer (at least this has been the observation in Karnataka). The wage employment lost due to the perennial tree crop (in comparison with annual food crops) may be compensated to some extent by additional work on tree harvesting, transport, processing, etc. Finally, subsistence goods like fuel and fodder can come from rehabilitation of village common lands and degraded fringe forest areas, which are treated under social forestry and the National Afforestation Programme (NAP), as well as watershed development, desert eradication (drought-prone area) programmes, etc.

The assessment that social forestry was a flawed concept has induced donor agencies to shy away from funding such projects, instead pushing for change in the policy and legal framework to transfer ownership and control over forest resources to the community. In India, agroforestry as a subject has been transferred to the Panc hayati Raj institutions and the central agriculture ministry. Therefore the ministry of environment and forests no longer monitors agroforestry or restoration of non-forest lands, although in the states the forest departments (FDs) are often the implementing agency for raising and distributing seedlings for social and farm forestry, and in past plan periods, have taken up reforestation of both forest and non-forest lands under schemes like Rehabilitation of Degraded Forests (RDF), Drought-Prone Area Programme (DPAP), Area-Oriented Fuel and Fodder Scheme (AOFF), etc.

(A pdf file of the entire article is available at https://www.academia.edu/21490696/Forest_Landscape_Restoration_in_India_Antecedents_experience_and_prognoses)

References

Barnes, Douglas F., Julia C.Allen, William Ramsay. April 1982. Social Forestry in Developing Nations. (Unpublished). The Centre for Energy  Policy Research. Resources For the Future, Washington, D.C. April 1982. Available at pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNAAY447.pdf



Government of India. 1976. Report of the National Commission on Agriculture. Part IX, Forestry. Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. New Delhi. Available at http://krishikosh.egranth.ac.in/bitstream/1/2041449/1/CCS323.pdf

ICFRE. 2012. Forest Sector Report India -2010. (Lead author Devendra Pandey). Published by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, Dehradun, on behalf of Ministry of Environment  and Forests, Government of India , New Delhi. Available at http://www.icfre.org/FSRI-REPORT_English.pdf

Myrdal, Gunnar. 1968. Asian Drama. An Inquiry Into the Poverty of Nations. Twentieth Century Fund, inc. Reprinted in India 1982, 2004, Kalyani Publishers, New Delhi.

ODA. 1990. Karnataka Social Forestry Project (KSFP), India. Evaluation (summary).Overseas Development Agency, UK.  Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/.../ev503s.pdf

Saigal, Sushil and Divya Kashyap. 2002. The second green revolution: analysis of farm forestry experience in western Tarai region of Uttar Pradesh and coastal Andhra Pradesh. Sub-study of the India country study of the international collaborative research project; instruments for sustainable private sector forestry. India Country Sub-Study. Ecotech Services (India) Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, and International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London. Available at http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/9185IIED.pdf.

Saxena, N.C. 1994. India’s Eucalyptus Craze: the God That Failed. Sage Publications, New Delhi.



[1][1] ODA (1990). A summary is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/.../ev503s.pdf

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

31 Forest policy and the integrated approach. Forest Landscape Restoration in India -II.

Background of Empire forestry in India

India has had no less than three comprehensive statements of forest policy, the first as early as 1894 under the British Raj. The foundation of organized or ‘scientific’ forestry  in India is often ascribed to the Memorandum of 3rd August 1855, issued by Lord Dalhousie, the then Governor-General of India (FRI,  1961, Vol.II, p.63), which Stebbing (1922, Vol.I, p.206) termed the “Charter of the Indian Forests”.  The forests of the sub-continent had been depleted in the preceding decades by two forces: one, the prior practice of relatively unregulated timber ‘mining’ by contractors (both British and native), and then other, the frequent slashing and burning for expanding cultivation. Dalhousie’s memorandum laid the basis of scientific forestry, by enunciating the principle that valuable forests should be worked, not to swell the profits of traders, but to maximize their value to the state in conformity with their “future proper  maintenance” (Stebbing, op. cit., p.207). Stebbing states that “Lord Dalhousies’s pronouncement was the act of a far-sighted statesman and proved him to be a man far ahead of his times”. It was Dr.Dietrich Brandis, who started as the Superintendent of Forests in Pegu in 1856, who subsequently worked tirelessly to establish scientific forestry in India, earning him the name of the “Father of Indian Forestry”, endowed as he was with “both the requisite scientific forestry knowledge, fitness of character and the equally  necessary tact to carry through the policy determined upon in the face of the most strenuous opposition” (ibid.).



(A pdf file of the entire article is available at https://www.academia.edu/21490696/Forest_Landscape_Restoration_in_India_Antecedents_experience_and_prognoses)

This ‘scientific’ forestry has been reviled by social environmentalists and environmentalist  historians  as an exercise of naked imperial avarice and high-handedness that dispossessed the people of the sub-continent of their rightful habitats and their traditional rights (for a recent adumberation, see Lele & Menon, 2014). However, a less adversarial assessment  would be that the colonial foresters and administrators were actually trying to preserve the existing large forest belts (specially in the higher altitudes and upper river catchments), for what we now term environmental and ecological values (see Barton, 2002), while the intermediate belt of high timber value would be worked on sustained yield basis for commercial timber and other products (including non-timber products like oleo-resins and pitch, gums and tannins, medicines etc. which were significant commercial products). At the same time, it is not as if the colonial forest conservators like Brandis and others were completely oblivious of the great dependence of the population on the common lands and community forest for a myriad of products and services. In his Report on the Improvement of Indian Agriculture, Voelcker (1893) drew a number of conclusions on the interdependence of the agricultural economy and livelihoods to the state of the forests and supply of forest products. For instance, because farm-yard manure (cattle dung) was so important to maintain soil fertility, he urged that government should help in supplying fuelwood so that the manure need not be burnt, through the development of “Fuel and Fodder reserves” for the rural population, even if it proved to not financially profitable, in the greater interests of the rural population (Voelcker, op. cit., p.xi). In his chapter on the forests,  Voelcker recognizes that the initial mandate to the forest department had been to make the working of the forests more sustainable financially, but because of the expansion of cultivation closer to the forest borders and increase in population and the needs of the people, it “has become necessary to extend the benefits of forests, so that they may more directly serve the interests of agriculture” (p.xii).  Voelcker also suggests “the increase of plantations along canal banks and railway lines”, “the further encouragement of arboriculture”, the carrying out of an enquiry into “the needs of different cultivating districts in the matter of wood supply”, and the setting aside of a portion of the forest revenue for “the extension of ‘reserves’ to meet agricultural wants” (p.xiii). In his Chapter IX on “Grass”,  he maintains that “the provision of grazing in forests is a desirable and legitimate object”, and in times of drought it may even become “invaluable in keeping the cattle of the country alive” (p.xiii). He again stresses the importance of raising fodder in the fuel and fodder reserves, and in the Chapter X on “Fodder-crops and Hedges”, he advocates the growing of fodder and hedges on farms (p.xiv). As is apparent, these ideas not only foreshadow the concepts of social forestry and agroforestry that  were developed in detail in the 1970s following the National Commission of Agriculture (Government of India, 1976), but also imply an integrated, multi-stakeholder approach that took the whole gamut of land use and livelihood practices and patterns for its field of action.

Brandis himself was a strong proponent of the desirability of community control of such local resources. Although, based on the experience of different states in Europe, he felt that handing over full control to private entities would end up in sale of forest, he also expresses the highest concern for the need to respect the customary rights of the people, which calls for “much care, patience, and conciliatory treatment of the people concerned”, and definitely not to treat the clearing and burning of forests by the native communities as a grave offence, as “…the tribes of India have the same claim as the holder of prescriptive forest rights in Europe to demand that provision be made for their reasonable wants and requirements”. Brandis had the vision that once the forests had been restored to a productive state, the village communities would be in a position to take responsibility for their future conservation and management as fuel and fodder reserves (Brandis, 1897, repr. 1994).

Forest Policy Resolution, 1894 of colonial government

Based on Voelcker’s report and the considerations outlined in the government memoranda, the Government of India issued the first Forest Policy resolution dated 19 October 1894 (available as an Appendix in 100 Years of Indian Forestry, FRI, 1961, Vol.I). The underlying principle is that the state forests are to be administered “in the public benefit”, which may be in some cases the whole body of tax-payers, but in others “the people of the tract within which the forest is situated”. Regulation and restriction of rights and privileges may be necessary to safeguard the forest, but are justified “only when the advantage to be gained by the public is great”; and must be done only to the absolutely minimum degree. The state forests are broadly classified under four headings: (a) Forests to be preserved on climatic or physical grounds (hill slopes, hill torrents, etc.), (b) Forests for valuable timbers for commercial purposes, (c) Minor Forests, (d) Pasture lands. It is not intended that existing state forests should each be assigned these classes; they are only “to afford a basis for the indication of the broad policy” to be applied, and always with “the fullest consideration … given to local circumstances”.  

One of the implications of making the interests of sustainable agriculture and livelihoods paramount is that “wherever an effective demand for culturable land exists and can only be supplied from forest area, the land should ordinarily be relinquished without hesitation” (subject to certain precautions e.g. avoiding the honey-combing of the forest etc.). Therefore, the local governments were given the discretion to divert forest land to agricultural purposes without previous reference to the Government of India, a position that was reversed only in 1980 with the passing of the Forest (Conservation) Act.

Protection and management of the minor forests and fuel and fodder reserves are to be done with full consideration of the local needs and traditional practices, and not to generate profit for the state and even though scientific principles may demand strict control. “The customs of generations alter slowly in India; and though much may and should be done to lead people to their own profit, yet it must be done gently and gradually – always remembering that their contentment is no less important an object than is their material advantage”.

It can thus be seen that the colonial policy on forests and village commons was, at least conceptually, a fairly ‘integrated’ one that sought to keep a balance between the needs of the rural and urban populations as well as the interests of what we would term today the environmental and ecological health of the region. On the one hand, therefore, the colonial administration proceeded with diligence in notifying the better forest tracts and settling the rights and privileges of the communities, while on the other, the expansion of settled agriculture was encouraged following on the establishment of ‘Pax Britannica’ in tracts hitherto subject to the vagaries of fickle nature and the  depredations of wild animals – and of lawless humans (see Tucker & Richards, 1983, for an account of nineteenth-century deforestation and expansion of settled agriculture).

National Forest Policy, 1952 of independent India

If we fast-forward to the post-independence era, it appeared to the policy-makers that the country had probably taken the priority of agriculture to unreasonable extents, and a corrective was seen to be required if the remaining forest areas were to be safeguarded for posterity. Thus the National Forest Policy of 12 May, 1952 (Government of India, 1952; available as Appendix III in the publication 100 Years of Indian Forestry, FRI, 1961) called for a “re-orientation” of the forest policy in the light of the changes since the colonial era, the better understanding of “the part played by forests in maintaining the physical conditions of the country”, and the realization of the “unsuspected dependence of defence on the forests” during the World Wars. The National Forest Policy was based on the following paramount needs of the country: (1) the need for balanced and complementary (and the most appropriate) land-use, (2) the need for checking denudation, soil erosion, invasion of sand dunes on the coast and desert regions, (3) the need for establishing treelands wherever possible, for amelioration of climatic conditions and general well-being, (4) the need for increasing supply of grazing, small wood, firewood etc., (5) the need for sustained supply of timber and other forest produce for defence, communications and industry, and (6) the need for the realization of the maximum annual revenue in perpetuity consistent with the fulfillment of the needs enumerated above. The following functional classification of forests was proposed: (A) Protection forests, which “must be preserved or created for physical and climatic considerations”, (B)  National forests, to meet the needs of “defence, communications, industry and other general purposes of public importance”, (C) Village forests, to provide fuelwood, small timber, fodder, grazing, etc. for local requirements, and (D) Tree-lands, “outside the scope of the ordinary forest management”, but “essential for the amelioration of the physical conditions of the country”.  All the forests, “irrespective of their functions and ownership”, should be administered “from the point of view of national well-being”; hence the claim of local communities, and the interests of agricultural requirements, must necessarily take a second place to the national interests. Thus the first national forest policy of independent India is seen to have rejected some of the basic premises of the previous (colonial) forest policy. According to the  1952 policy:

 “The accident of a village being  situated close to a forest does not prejudice the right of the country as a whole to receive the benefits of a national asset. The scientific conservation of a forest inevitably involves the regulation of rights and the restriction of the privileges of user…however irksome such restraint may be to the neighbouring areas”.  

Again, local needs should be met to a reasonable extent, but not at the cost of national interests. The old policy of liberal relinquishing of forest lands for agricultural purposes,  although subject to certain safeguards that unfortunately have been “honoured only in their breach”, should be given up. Each land parcel should be put to the appropriate land use “under which it would produce the most and deteriorate least”. The forest vegetation on vulnerable tracts like mountain and hill slopes, river valleys and river banks, catchment areas,  coastal areas, desert areas, etc. needs to be restored “by establishing protective forests over larger areas, and preserving the existing ones”.  Village forests should be managed in a sustainable manner for local needs, but not for commercial returns. This will require the imposition of controls, which “render the entrusting of the management of village forests to panchayats, without appropriate safeguards, a hazardous undertaking as has been demonstrated in some of the States” (probably pointing to the experience in Tamil Nadu, where the panchayats had found themselves unable to safeguard the village wood lots raised under forestry schemes).  There is “vast scope for an all-round increase in the area under treelands”,  on agricultural land, institutional and departmental lands,  etc. outside the conventional forests, and a systematic programme for this should be drawn up for raising nurseries, raising public awareness, etc. Free grazing (especially of sheep and goats) should be curtailed where it is damaging the vegetation. Shifting cultivation, which damages the forest over wide tracts, should be gradually reduced, but by “persuasion, not coercion; a missionary, not an authoritarian, approach”.

National Commission on Agriculture, 1976

The 1952 forest policy thus aimed at maximizing the value of the forest resource, and consolidating the forest estate, a response to the free-handed conversion of forest to cropland in the early decades of independent India. This techno-centric and national-economic orientation was further strengthened by the report of the National Commission on Agriculture (NCA, 1976), the main points of which are summarized below. One of the issues that seems to have deeply impressed the NCA is that with a forest estate of almost half the cultivated area, the contribution of forestry and logging to the NDP was only some 1.5% (1972-73), which obviously weakens the case for retaining land under the forest department. The resolution of this conundrum is seen in working toward the general increase in productivity and economic returns (per hectare per year), which would call for, and also attract, higher investment from commercial banks, overseas development agencies, and the corporate sector. But to achieve this higher productivity and economic returns, the forests would have to be put under “scientific management on modern lines” (op. cit., p.20), which meant that the existing low-valued, mixed growth of all sorts of low-valued miscellaneous trees and scrub ought to be replaced by the most efficient, fast-growing, species, implying the testing and adaptation of exotics that had been proven in similar ecological conditions elsewhere in the world (like the poplars, Australian eucalypts, acacias, sub-tropical and tropical conifers like the pines and Cryptomeria species for the hill regions). At the same time, free supply of forest produce to all and sundry was resulting in a feeling that the forests were of no value and could be treated in a cavalier fashion:

“There are a lot of subsidised supply of timber and forest materials to the rural population. From this an attitude has developed that forest material can be given to others without going too much into the economics of production… In the name of encouragement to industry, forest material has been leased out for longer period at a very nominal rate of royalty… If the forests are bled both by the rural sector and industrial sector, there will be no incentive or initiative left to change over from the present low-cost low-yield forestry to a commercial high investment economic forestry development” (NCA, 1976, Part IX: p.3-4).

The recipe, then, was to convert the mixed low-value jungles into highly productive plantations yielding industrial material that would be sold at fair prices (for which forest development corporations were to be set up to attract institutional finance), while local needs like fuel, fodder, artisanal raw materials, etc. would have to be met from farm forestry or social forestry, and from improved degraded forests in the rural areas (using development funds and foreign aid agencies’ support). “Production of industrial wood would have to be the raison d’etre for the existence of forests” (NCA, Part IX:p.32-33). Development of minor forest products through state agencies for collection, marketing, etc. was expected to assure employment and a reasonable minimum wage to tribals and others dependent on this activity (p.34). The detailed recommendations were set out in the NCA’s two “Interim reports”: one on Production Forestry – Man-made Forests, and the other on Social Forestry (NCA, Part IX:p.22).

A mention may be made of the NCA’s approach to the interrelations of forest economy with the rural and tribal economy. Apparently the Commission saw employment (wage labour) as a main avenue for involving the local people and lessening their pressure on the forests: “Employment could be offered as an alternative to rights of user, if forest development is properly organized” (NCA, IX:p.22). The rural labour could also be engaged in increasing the production as well as improving collection and processing of minor forest produce  for maximizing its contribution to rural employment. However, the forests under use by communities have deteriorated mainly because of their over-exploitation, so ‘they cannot in all fairness expect that somebody else will take the trouble of providing them with forest produce free of charge” (p.25).  However, the NCA also stated that “growth should lead to social justice…the increased yields of forest products will have to be equitably distributed between industrial needs and the demands of the rural population” (p.34) and so on.

The 1952 forest policy and the NCA report of 1976 gave a fillip to forest development on a large scale in India. The achievements are impressive (and condemnable in the view of environmentalists) in terms of conversion of natural forest into monocultures of industrial wood using mainly exotics like eucalypts and acacias, as well as, complementarily, a huge programme of social and farm forestry in the countryside. This  is, in a manner of speaking, an integrated approach, approximated by the term “high modernising” (Scott, 1999): it seeks to take care of diverse, competing needs, but at a macro-, national policy-making level. In doing so, it tends to ignore the specifics of the relationship of local communities with the habitat and its resources. The high-modernist approach tends to abstract use of resources to the level of the broader national economy, and claims to maximize the benefits to the wider economy. Under this model, benefits would have to circulate back to the community not directly as extractors, but by way of their participation in that economy, either as processers or wage-earners etc.

Unfortunately, the local community is often unable to participate in the wider economy because of various reasons: lack of education and awareness, centuries of discrimination by the caste or class system, remoteness and lack of communications and infrastructure, lack of credit  and marketing facilities, and so on. This could well be the crucial difference in the landscape approach that we are discussing now: it has to be at the level of the local community, taking into account the actual specifics of their interrelationships, rather than leaving it to the broader economy and markets to sort out their issues. At the other extreme, the village common lands, with no caretaker institution, were left to a process of local appropriation which rendered them “unable to meet local demands for fodder and fuel, leaving the villagers with no other recourse, but to turn to the Forests which increased pressure on them” (Saxena, 1997, p.13).

Ironically, even as the state was developing this ‘high-modernistic’ approach in accordance with the National Commission on Agriculture, other currents were already starting to move in the ‘political economy’ of the forest  that would in time result in the almost complete reversal of that policy and the proclamation of a revised forest policy of 1988, and the formalization of a revolutionary new phase of Joint Forest Management (JFM) for the degraded notified forests of India. Thanks to the activism of a group of social environmentalists, who came to examining the forest sector fairly late in the game according to Guha (2012), the direct relationship of the local communities was legalized in the Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers Recognition of Forest Right (ROFR) Act, 2006, which vested considerable rights (and duties) in the Gram Sabha or village assembly in replacement of the formal forest department in the traditional habitat of the communities.

Revised National Forest Policy of 1988

The Revised Forest Policy of 1988 (Government of India, 1988) derives the need for a new policy statement from the “serious depletion” suffered over the ensued years, the “relentless pressures arising from ever-increasing demand for fuelwood, fodder and timber”, “inadequacy of protection measures”, “diversion of forest lands… without ensuring compensatory afforestation and essential environmental safeguards”, and “the tendency to look upon forests as revenue earning resource”. The statement of “Basic Objectives” in Section 2 also seems to indicate the hierarchy of priorities given to different objectives: it starts with “maintenance of environmental stability” and “ecological balance”, “conserving the natural heritage”, controlling erosion, sand dunes spread, etc.; then “increasing substantially the forest/tree cover… through massive afforestation and social forestry”, “meeting the requirements of fuelwood, fodder” etc.; and finally, “increasing the productivity of forests to meet essential national needs”, “encouraging efficient  utilization… and maximizing substitution of wood”.  A final objective is listed: “Creating a massive people’s movement with the involvement of women, to achieve these objectives and to minimize pressure on existing forests”. However, an overall caveat is given that the principal aim is “to ensure environmental stability … ecological balance… including atmospheric equilibrium”, etc., and that “derivation of direct economic benefit must be subordinated to this principal aim”.

Perhaps the most telling feature of this revised policy is the total reversal of the strategic role between reserved forests and social forestry: now the “domestic requirements of fuelwood, fodder, minor forest produce and construction timber” of the “tribals and other poor living within and near forests” should be “the first charge on forest produce”. Use of industrial wood needs to be reduced by substitutes, while as far as possible, forest-based industry “should raise the raw material needed… preferably by establishment of a direct relationship between the factory and the individuals who can grow the raw materials…”. Farmers would be encouraged to grow industrial wood, on marginal lands not required for cultivation or pasture purposes, and forest department/ corporations likewise on “degraded forests, not earmarked for natural regeneration”.  The practice of supplying forest produce to industry at concessional prices should cease, encouraging the industry to use substitutes, and import of wood and wood products should be liberalized. In essence, then, this has been interpreted as down-playing the commercial harvests from the state forests (fresh clear-felling and conversion of natural forest is precluded, so only the already existing plantation working circle areas are being harvested and replanted in rotation), while industrial raw material comes predominantly from trees outside forest (TOF). The policy also gives highest importance to supporting the tribal people and involving them closely in the protection and development of forests, safeguarding their customary rights and interests, “undertaking integrated area development programmes… including the provision of alternative sources of domestic energy”, etc.

However, this does not mean that the revised policy has no place for attention to the state forests beyond use for “subsistence and consumption” (Saxena, 1997, p.34) of local poor. The aim of achieving one-third of the total land area under forest or tree cover is reiterated. A massive programme of tree growing on all degraded and denuded land, both forest and non-forest, is urged, along with modification of laws and rights to encourage community afforestation, social forestry, farm forestry etc. Projects that interfere with forests on hill slopes etc. should be “severely restricted”. To met the “growing needs for essential goods and services which the forests provide”, it is “necessary to enhance forest cover and productivity” through “application of scientific and technical inputs”, however, without resorting to “clear-felling of adequately stocked natural forest”, nor through introduction of exotic species, “unless long-term scientific trial undertaken by specialists in ecology, forestry and agriculture have established that they are suitable and have no adverse impact on native vegetation and environment”. Shifting cultivation should be contained within areas already affected, “and area already damaged by such cultivation should be rehabilitated through social forestry and energy plantations”. There should be “no regularization of existing encroachments”, fire should be controlled, and grazing regulated.     

Antecedents in Indian experience with ‘integrated’ approach


A plethora of schemes, programmes, and projects have been pursued in India that go under the general rubric of ‘integrated’ approaches, a precursor to the landscape approach. The earliest was probably the Community Development Programme immediately after independence, which however was faulted on the grounds that works were decided by officials, and not in consonance with people’s felt needs. This prompted the move to set up local representative governance structures (panchayati raj institutions, PRIs) as discussed in the author’s monograph on village communities and forest conservation (Dilip Kumar, 2014). Other integrated projects and schemes include the Integrated Tribal Development Projects, Watershed Development Programme, Integrated Rural Development Programme, and others. Each of these has thrown up valuable learnings regarding many issues: the role and method of genuinely bottom up planning, empowering communities, addressing issues of gender and equity, mechanisms of consultation, planning and implementation, and so on. Space precludes a detailed consideration of these, unfortunately, so this paper goes on to consider only three major programmes in the forest sector: the Social Forestry/Farm Forestry programmes of the 1970s to the 1980s, the Joint Forest Management (JFM) framework adopted in the National Afforestation Programme (NAP) and in most ongoing externally aided projects from the 1990s, and the Western Ghats Forestry Project (WGFP) in Karnataka during the 1990s.

(A pdf file of the entire article is available at https://www.academia.edu/21490696/Forest_Landscape_Restoration_in_India_Antecedents_experience_and_prognoses)

References

Barton, Gregory Allen. 2002. Empire Forestry and the Origins of Environmentalism. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Brandis, Dietrich. 1897. Forestry in India. Origins and Early Developments. Reprinted 1994 by Natraj Publishers, Dehradun. 

Dilip Kumar, P.J. 2014. Managing India’s Forests: Village Communities, Panchayati Raj Institutions and the State. Monograph No.32. Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore. Available at http://www.academia.edu/9235210/Managing_India_s_Forests_Village_Communities_Panchayati_Raj_Institutions_and_the_State

FRI. 1961. One Hundred Years of Indian Forestry, Vol. I and II. Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, India.

Government of India. 1894. Resolution No.22.F dated 19th October, 1894. (Available as Appendix IV, The Old Forest Policy,  in the publication 100 Years of Indian Forestry, FRI, 1961).

Government of India. 1952. (National Forest Policy). Resolution  dated 12th May, 1952. (Available as Appendix III in the publication 100 Years of Indian Forestry, FRI, 1961).

Government of India. 1976. Report of the National Commission on Agriculture. Part IX, Forestry. Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. New Delhi. Available at http://krishikosh.egranth.ac.in/bitstream/1/2041449/1/CCS323.pdf

Government of India. 1988. National Forest Policy. Resolution  No.3-1/86-FP dated 7 Dec 1988, Ministry of Environment  and Forests, New Delhi. Available at the ministry website, http://www.moef.gov.in/sites/default/files/introduction-nfp.pdf

Guha, Ramachandra. 2012. The Past and Future of Indian Forestry. Chapter I in Deeper Roots of Historical Injustice: Trends and Challenges in the Forests of India. Published by Rights and Resources Initiative, Washington, D.C. Available at www.rightsandresources.org/documents/files/doc_5589.pdf

Lele, Sharachchandra and Ajit Menon. 2014. Democratizing Forest Governance in India. Oxford University Press, New Delhi.

NCA. 1976. Report of the National Commission on Agriculture. Part IX, Forestry. National Commission on Agriculture. Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Government of India, New Delhi. (Available at http://krishikosh.egranth.ac.in/bitstream/1/2041449/1/CCS323.pdf)

Saxena, N.C. 1997. The Saga of Participatory Forest Management in India. CIFOR Special Publication. Center for International Forestry Research, Indonesia. Available at www.cifor.org/publications/pdf_files/Books/SP-Saga.pdf

Scott, James C. 1999.Seeing Like a State. How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. Yale University Press.

Stebbing, E.P. 1922. The Forests of India. (Vol.I to III). London. Available at https://archive.org/download/ForestsIndia1/IndFor1.pdf (Accessed Dec. 2015).

Tucker, Richard P. and J.F.Richards. 1983. Global Deforestation and the Nineteenth-Century World Economy. Duke University Press, Durham, N.C.

Voelcker, John Augustus. 1893. Report on the Improvement of Indian Agriculture. London. Available at http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924001039324.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

30 Forest Landscape Restoration in India- I.The concept of the ‘Landscape Approach’ in forest restoration

I. The concept of the ‘Landscape Approach’ in forest restoration

Introduction

While the landscape approach to forest restoration has been seen as the latest innovation, many antecedents are perceptible in past efforts at forest conservation and development in India, as in many other parts of the world. The essence of a ‘landscape’ approach would probably lie in the conscious anticipation and management (where required) of potential feedback loops, especially displacement of pressures and leakages into adjoining areas and other such effects, which can be termed the internalisation of externalities.  Examples of past experiments in this direction would include the various ‘integrated’ or ‘comprehensive’ development or conservation projects, starting from the community development programme soon after Independence, the numerous social and community forestry projects of the 1970s and 80s, the massive movement for participatory or joint forest planning and management (JFPM) from the 1990s onwards, various ‘integrated’ tribal and area development schemes and projects, watershed development, eco-development, and so on. The paper will attempt a broad survey of such antecedents, summarize the achievements and critiques from the resource economics and social development points of view, and relate these antecedents to the various policy and legal measures undertaken by the Indian government in  recent decades, such as the Forest Conservation Act (1980), Recognition of Forest  Rights Act (2006), the Panchayati Raj amendments to the Constitution (1998), the revised National Forest Policy (1988), Court judgements, etc.



(A pdf file of the entire article is available at https://www.academia.edu/21490696/Forest_Landscape_Restoration_in_India_Antecedents_experience_and_prognoses)

The most recent manifestation of  the integrated approach is the Green India Mission (GIM) of the Government of India (2010), one of the eight Climate Change missions drawn up by the previous government and continued by the current party in power, the formulation of which was done under the supervision of the author in the Ministry of Environment & Forests. This is an ambitious programme that envisages the creation of 5 mha new growth and improvement of 5 mha of existing forest, on a landscape approach, over a period of 10 years, which will sequester carbon, along with a number of ‘co-benefits’ in the form of strengthened community participation, biodiversity conservation, income augmentation, etc. One of the issues to be addressed in the Mission is the institutional arrangements, which includes the clarification of the linkages of the community-based forest committees with the elected Panchayati Raj institutions. The subsequent part of the paper will proceed to lay out the salient features of the GIM, analyze the mechanisms that are supposed to incorporate the landscape approach as a bedrock of programme formulation, and then attempt to review the experience of the past few years in the translation of these ambitious ideas into practical institutions and actions on the ground. This will give the first taste of the possibly innovative ways in which regional and local agencies and communities interpret the idealized objectives of the landscape approach, and possibly offer a more realistic idea of the institutional arrangements that are likely to be effective in realizing these objectives.

The Ten Principles of landscape restoration

Among the many approaches to forest expansion and rehabilitation, especially in the context of mitigating the effects of global warming, the concept of forest and landscape restoration (FLR) seems to have caught the public imagination in recent years. Symptomatic of this is the grand conclave on FLR held just a few days after the climate conference (CoP 21) at Paris in December 2015. This paper seeks to explain how the concepts going into FLR are relevant to the Indian context, and how this new approach is related to antecedent practices and frameworks adopted in the country for rehabilitation of degraded forests and regeneration of new forests. The Indian experience is offered as a significant reference point for the world efforts in FLR, which will serve to establish the continuities as well as point out the important modifications that may be called for to improve the programme and increase the likelihood of achieving the numerous co-benefits in a sustainable manner.

We start by briefly laying out the essentials of what this new approach consists of, and in what ways  it is a departure from previous approaches. In recent articles on the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) website, Terry Sunderland, Principal Scientist with the CIFOR, clarifies that there is no simple or single definition: “The landscape approach is anything but orderly. It is more a case of muddling through and being flexible enough to adapt to change, and integrating multiple objectives for the best possible benefits” (Sunderland, August 2014). Other terms for it include “integrated landscape management” (ibid.). In an earlier CIFOR web article (Evans, October 2013), Dr.Sunderland describes the landscape approach as “essentially managing complex landscapes in an integrated fashion, in a holistic fashion, incorporating all the different land uses within those landscapes in a single management process”.  This is in contrast to current sector-based approaches, where each agency or stakeholder tends to function on its own, in an isolated manner, thereby letting many externalities go unaccounted for. The fond hope is that by getting all these stakeholders to plan and implement together, in a holistic and coordinated manner, there will be greater wins than losses.

In a formal paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Vol.110, No.21, datelined 21 May 2013, Jeffrey Sayer and others (including Sunderland) found, after a comprehensive survey of the literature, that there was no universal definition for a landscape approach, but  suggest “ten principles for a landscape approach to reconciling agriculture, conservation, and other competing uses”, that “…emphasize adaptive management, stakeholder involvement, and multiple objectives. [...]  with institutional and governance concerns identified as the most severe obstacles to implementation”. Among other features, a landscape approach (sometimes equated to an “ecosystems” approach) would “imply shifting from project-oriented actions to process-oriented activities”, requiring “changes at all levels of interventions, from problem definition to monitoring and funding”, tying “stakeholders to long-term, iterative processes, giving them responsibilities and empowering them”, moving “away from top-down engineered solutions towards more bottom-up negotiated actions  that emerge from a process akin to muddling through” (Sayer et al., 2013).  

The above mentioned ten principles have also been adopted by the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR, 2013). For the record, they are: 1. Adaptive management, 2. Common concern entry point, 3. Multiple scales, 4. Multi-functionality, 5. Multi-stakeholder, 6. Negotiated and transparent change logic, 7. Clarification of rights and responsibilities, 8. Participatory and user-friendly monitoring, 9. Resilience, and 10. Strengthened stakeholder capability  (www.forestlandscaperestoration.org/tool/our-approach-landscape-approach).

Earlier examples of such checklists and flow-charts are available in the successive ITTO guides on FLR (ITTO, 2002, 2005, 2009),

The principles of community institution building

Another example of a checklist of desirable elements in community approaches is afforded by the work of Elinor Ostrom (1990). Based on case studies of a wide range of actual common property or community natural resources management systems, Ostrom and her group find that beyond the two extremes of privatisation or state control that are suggested as a solution to the “tragedy of freedom in a commons” (Hardin, 1968), there is a third alternative, that of developing institutions for self-government.   Some fundamental characteristics of “successful common-pool management schemes” involve “coping with free-riding, solving commitment problems, arranging for the supply of new institutions and monitoring individual compliance with a set of rules” (Ostrom, 1990, p.27). One of the desired characteristics is that the institution building start with a suitably small scale, where people can learn about one another and build up trust by face-to-face interactions, and then gradually build it up to higher levels and larger groups.

If we want a list, the requirements to institute a set of rules that are acceptable and sustainable to manage a CPR, are as follows according to Ostrom (op. cit.):
1)      define a set of appropriators who are authorized to use the CPR,
2)      relate the rules to the attributes of the CPR and the community,
3)      the rules to be defined at least in part, by local appropriators,
4)      the rules to be monitored by individuals accountable to local appropriators,
5)      the rules are “sanctioned using graduated punishments” (in common parlance, I interpret this to mean that serious punishments are not imposed at the first offence, but through a gradually rising series according to their seriousness and frequency).

Ostrom then presents the following set of variables as capable of explaining the supply of institutions in the sort of situations her case studies cover:
1)      the total number of decision makers,
2)      the number of participants needed to achieve the collective action,
3)      the discount rate in use,
4)      the similarities of interest,
5)      the presence of people with substantial leadership assets.

However, the studies also threw up situations where some of these factors seemed to be acting in diverse ways: for instance, although smaller groups may be generally more effective, the numbers involved in certain successful groundwater basins and irrigation areas were quite large (700 to 13,500), and at the other extreme was a 200-strong community of fisherfolk who were unsuccessful. Size of the group cannot obviously be the only determinant of the capability of organising themselves, and other explanations are required. The following additional conditions are then suggested (Ostrom, op. cit., p.100-101), which are a continuation to the five listed above:
6) that they have access to rapid low cost “arenas” to resolve conflicts,
7) the rights to devise their own institutions are not challenged by external government agencies,
8) these activities are organised in multiple layers of “nested enterprises”.

It also helps if they can “call on public facilities – courts, a state department of natural resources, legislatures, special elections” and so on, to obtain information and make decisions that were “legitimate and enforceable”.  Ostrom feels that institution-building and management learning has to proceed through an “incremental, self-transforming process”, to be successful.

This seems to be quite applicable even to the situation in India, where the author of this paper also found that communities exhibited a keen appreciation of the strength of a collaborative relationship with the forest department, and there was no sense of animosity between these community-based organisations (CBOs) and the larger elected institutions of the formal panchayati raj system (Dilip Kumar, 2013, 2014).

Sustainable Management and the landscape approach

These are therefore not entirely new concepts, and in fact the landscape approach may be seen as just a more incisive and focused statement of the concerns and ideas behind the concept of sustainable management. For example, scanning through the contributions in the magnificent volume put together for the Year of Forests 2011 (UNFF, 2012), we see the recurring theme of the multi-faceted benefits of forests, much beyond the pre-occupation with sustained yield management for the main product, timber, of the 19th and early 20th century foresters. Now there is an acute consciousness that forests sustain the livelihoods of sizeable sections of the population, especially rural poor, by providing myriad non-timber products (including medicinal herbs that support traditional health care systems which are all that the poor can access), water for irrigation, drinking, and livestock, fodder, grazing, fuelwood, climate amelioration, biodiversity,   and cultural inputs. The old approach to both livelihoods support and biodiversity and climate maintenance is not achievable by cordoning off the forests from the population with guns and guards alone, but calls for a more positive recognition of the stakes of multiple actors on the ground, providing a central role to communities, developing innovative   management regimes for the natural resource, and so on. Thus the entire gamut of ideas and interventions coming under the label of sustainable management or ecosystem management is very similar to those informing the landscape approach. Another common term used is holistic management, much used by proponents of development alternates, or the integrated or comprehensive approach, which has been applied to numerous programmes and projects in recent decades.

Grazing in Haryana jungle
Having said this, it appears that a certain distinction can be made in respect of the landscape approach narrowly interpreted. This is that effects of interventions in one area, sector or community would obviously have repercussions on other areas or sectors or communities. In the normal course, each implementing agency, whether a government department or an NGO, would not go beyond its narrow range of concerns, so that these spill-over effects, or externalities, would go unaccounted for. As examples, we can expect that closing off of one patch of land in order to restore the vegetation or to raise a fuelwood or fodder plantation, would probably displace users to some other patch. Often, effects of forest closure for the sake of regeneration or restoration, fall heavily on the poorest – women and children who have the responsibility of collecting fuelwood and fodder, or landless people who collect forest produce for barter or sale, for instance – which makes such single-dimensioned projects iniquitous. This indeed is the main criticism of the previous initiatives, often supported by foreign aid, like social forestry and participatory forestry in India, which have otherwise been quite successful in achieving physical and financial targets. It would be interesting to see how these criticisms are proposed to be dealt with in the latest incarnation, the Green India Mission (Government of India, 2010), which is one of the (eight) Climate Change Missions drawn up by the previous government (under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh).


One of the problems for ground-level practitioners and administrators in understanding and endorsing wholeheartedly these seemingly innovative approaches is, that it is not clear whether these are tested and proven ways, or just some more examples of aspirational designs drawn up by well-meaning external agents. As we are well aware, a whole succession of approaches (as outlined above) have been coined, but many of them have fallen by the wayside as donor or sponsor interest has waned due to the in-built cycle of project financing, or donor fatigue in some cases, or adverse notice from analysts, especially social environmentalists. 


We now turn to a more detailed exposition of these various experiments and experiences in forest restoration approaches in the Indian context, where the above ideas have a long history of application in one form or another, over a number of policy changes and programme initiatives since the inception of organized ‘scientific’ forestry in the 19th century. 


(A pdf file of the entire article is available at https://www.academia.edu/21490696/Forest_Landscape_Restoration_in_India_Antecedents_experience_and_prognoses)

References

Barnes, Douglas F., Julia C.Allen, William Ramsay. April 1982. Social Forestry in Developing Nations. (Unpublished). The Centre for Energy  Policy Research. Resources For the Future, Washington, D.C. April 1982. Available at pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNAAY447.pdf

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