ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Forest ManagementSubscribe to Forest Management

Decolonising Decentralised Governance

Three decades since the initiation of decentralised governance, and more than a decade since the first community forest resource right was recognised in Maharashtra, forest-dwelling communities still have limited space in decision-making about their forest resources. This article describes three cases from Maharashtra where bureaucratic overreach has impeded emerging forest management by forest dwellers holding community forest resource rights. It reflects on the need for changing the prevalent colonial mindset in the bureaucracy to facilitate genuine decentralised democratic governance.

Meghalaya: Impact of Ban on Timber Felling

Though the apex court's ban on timber felling was welcomed by conservationists, its ecological and social impact is only now coming to light. To alleviate many of its unforeseen consequences, it is imperative for several measures to be implemented in tandem - a comprehensive forest survey, involvement of the local community and a much-needed simplification of the legal process.

Forests, People and State

This paper focuses on the differences between pre-colonial and colonial constructions of nature and how the two interacted with and absorbed one another, with reference to the forests of the Gorakhpur region. The East India Company, while continuing the Mughal framework and institutions in the management of the forests, also embarked upon reinvention of traditions and recreation of customs. Its commercial and strategic interests always remained prominent as it sought to reinforce its notions of power and authority.

Environmental Rehabilitation and Livelihood Impact

Since Common Pool Resources (CPR) forms a primary source of livelihood support for the poor, efforts to rehabilitate these could form a viable strategy for livelihood improvement. This paper is an attempt to find out the extent to which Area Enclosure (AE) programme in Ethiopia and JFM in Gujarat have been able to incorporate and address various issues concerning the livelihood security of the local people. If AE and JFM are to contribute significantly for livelihood security, they need to address issues like ensuring equity in participation, increasing biomass productivity and reducing uncertainty over sharing long-term benefits.

Forest Management and Terraced Agriculture

This case study of the Hani of China brings out the importance of forests in providing various local ecological services that are essential for the system of terraced agriculture. The paper investigates local people's knowledge of forest-based ecological services, including water regulation and nutrient recycling, and gender differences in the local knowledge of these services. The paper notes that the Hani have maintained the forest condition quite irrespective of its tenurial status. The reluctance to 'eat the state forest' is attributed to the local understanding that the forests comprise 'critical natural capital' on which their very survival depends.

Case for Local Forest Management

The paper argues that forests are not only sources of timber and non-timber forest products, but also of environmental services. It is through the fall in the supply of local environmental services, like nutrient recycling and soil formation, that forest communities bear the external costs that are not included in the price of timber and other forest products. Local environmental services are taken into account in forest management decisions by local communities, but not by external agents, like forest departments, and form a basis for setting up local forest management systems. In arguing for the establishment of forest communities' property rights over forests, the paper supports the establishment of markets for regional and global environmental services provided by forests.

Conflict in Resource Management for Ecosystem Services

Water supplied free to urban centres imposes costs on the upland watershed. The paper analyses the conflicts and costs of such provision of external ecosystem services in a case in Yunnan, China. It argues that in order to internalise the external costs of such water supply, there should be a locally embedded system of forest management. It further argues that pricing of these external ecosystem products, like water, is needed to enable local communities to balance the benefits from their sale against costs and other benefits.

Uttarakhand : 'Lath' Panchayats:Fading Away

The institution of lath panchayats has successfully worked with the incorporation of long-held traditions of the people of Uttarakhand. However, such a system of collective village responsibility is now in danger of fading away as decision-making powers are centralised in the hands of a few bureaucrats, who are by and large unsympathetic to the immediate needs of the villagers, and their symbiotic relations with the forests.
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