Kerala draft forest policy lacks focus

Published: Tuesday 15 May 2007

Kerala released its draft State Forest Policy on March 21, 2007. The policy has critical implications, given most of Kerala's forests are in the Western Ghats--a biodiversity hotspot.

The draft outlines "a universally accessible state forestry reporting system" for greater accountability and transparency. It also plans to focus on the 'ecosystem approach' and has made provisions for ecological audits and other such innovative measures to bring about an order in the system. It envisages an iso 9001 certification for its forests.

However, there are doubts on whether the state has sufficient capacity to implement the policy. Also, the draft has been termed 'ambiguous'. "High on jargon and vision, there is a clear lack on 'how to execute' aspect--be it good governance or personnel management. Words like 'appropriate measures' do not elaborate the specific nature of the planned measures", says T R Manoharan, senior coordinator of Forest Policy and Economics with the Worldwide Fund for Nature-India. "The ISO certification calls for a huge task," he adds.

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