Private players in forestry

Published: Monday 30 November -0001

-- THE NEW FORESTERS . Sushil Saigal, Hema Arora and SS Rizvi . March . 2002

The new role of private enterprise in the Indian forestry sector, that's essentially what this book talks about. In the last decade after economic liberalisation and following the national forest policy of 1988, the forestry sector has changed a lot. Now the commercial focus has ended and forests are being managed primarily for ecological services and meeting local communities' subsistence needs. Forest-based industries are expected to meet their requirements from non-forest lands by establishing direct relationship with farmers. Many schemes to involve communities in forest protection have been launched.

The direction of forestry sector has altered. The book, a research report prepared by Ecotech Services (India) Private Lts, New Delhi in collaboration with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London, examines the various challenges facing the sector and the contribution made by the private sector to sustainable forestry and forest-based livelihoods.

To date the contribution of private enterprise to forestry in India has been limited. There is a huge gap between demand and sustainable supply of various forest products. Even though the Ministry of Environment and Forests has estimated that an annual budget of Rs 52.85 billion is required to improve forest cover, only Rs 16.15 billion is available.

The book recommends that there is an urgent need to loosen bureaucratic control and to simplify procedures to allow the private sector to contribute more effectively. Putting great emphasis on the ayurvedic industry, the report suggests tapping its potential and developing a possible standard for the management of forests for ayurvedic herbs. There is also a need to simplify bank loan procedures and bring about clarity in agreements between companies and farmers. Researchers also call for a nationwide review of all laws and procedures constraining farm forestry. The book makes it clear that the impacts of commercial use of Joint Forest Management (JFM) should be equitable and not biased against the poor sections of the society.

'The New Foresters' is organised in eight sections. Section 1 presents the current content of the forestry sector and the demand and supply scenario with respect to major forest products. Section 2 talks about policy for private sector participation. The role of corporate private sector, farmers and communities is discussed in Sections 3, 4 and 5 respectively. Section 6 is dedicated to ayurvedic industry potential in India and the process of policy change is analysed in Section 7. The last chapter deals with the recommendations.

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