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Context: A research paper has advocated for sustainable forest management based on certification and a policy characterised by restoration, conservation and production equally. 

More about news:

  • The paper titled the ‘Impact of forest policies on timber production in India: a review’ was received from the Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), Bhopal.
  • It recommends an amendment in the forest policy.
  • The paper illustrates the potential of timber production from trees outside forests (TOFs) — grown outside government recorded forest areas (RFAs).

Trees Outside Forests (TOFs) are defined as trees growing outside government recorded forest areas (RFAs) and include trees growing on private lands, farms, community lands, along roads, canals and railway lines and urban areas. 

  • The term “Recorded Forest Area” (RFA) is used for lands which have been notified as “forest” under any government Act or rules or recorded as “forest” in the government records.
  • At present, India’s forest and tree cover is estimated to be 802,088 sq. km, which is about 24.39% of the country’s total geographical area.

Key takeaways of the paper:

  • Timber production in India: The India State of Forest Report (2011) estimated timber production from government forests to be 3.17 million m⊃3; and potential timber production from TOFs to be 42.77 million m⊃3;.
  • The domestic demand of timber was growing owing to increasing population and per capita GDP. 
    • Domestic timber production dropped while imports soared.
    • It happened due to forest policies focused on production instead of conservation, following a 1996 Supreme Court order which regulated logging in government forests. 
    • The imports affected domestic pricing patterns.
  • Significance of Timber 
    • Helps rural economy: Increasing timber production from TOFs can revive the rural economy.
    • Environmental benefits: Increasing wood production will also push carbon sequestration, and help in mitigating effects of climate change. 
    • The National Forest Policy 1988, the National Forest Commission 2006 and the recent National Agroforestry Policy 2014 have also recognized the potential of TOFs for timber production in India.
  • Concerns: 
    • The dependency on imports could hurt as exporters worldwide were shifting to a conservation-based approach.
    • The lack of reliable data relating to growing stock, consumption and production of timber, constrains forecast of supply and demand projections.
    • The low volume of timber production from RFAs is owing to strict regulations and policies that focus more on forest conservation over timber production.
    • Cumbersome TOF regulations for felling and transit of trees and lack of proper market linkages for farm-grown timber were major deterrents towards adoption of tree growing by farmers.
  • Recommendations by the paper
    • The import-export policy of the country should be reviewed to rectify the pricing in the market so that it is economically viable to grow trees on farmlands.
    • There should be a revision in the Indian policy to boost domestic production.
    • The conservation policy must focus on maintaining ecological balance and improving biodiversity through protected area management. 
    • The restoration policy must target reclamation, rehabilitation and regeneration of degraded landscapes and wastelands.
    • Production forestry should focus on “sustainable increase in forest productivity from TOFs and RFAs”. 
    • To boost production through RFAs, States must devise working plans and demarcate 10% of the forests for plantations. 
    • For TOFs, a synchronised nationwide policy could be developed.

Draft National Forest Policy (NFP) 2018

  • In this policy, first priority is water conservation, followed by climate change mitigation through carbon sequestration and finally to secure livelihoods. 
  • The first National Forest Policy in independent India took effect in 1952. The current National Forest Policy 1988 (NFP-1988) was announced 30 years ago.
  • The previous NFPs were focused on production and revenue generation of forests (NFP, 1894 and NFP, 1952) and environmental stability and maintenance of ecological balance (NFP, 1988).

Salient features:

  • It proposes to restrict “schemes and projects which interfere with forests that cover steep slopes, catchments of rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, geologically unstable terrain and such other ecologically sensitive areas".
  • The ecologically sensitive catchment areas shall be stabilized with suitable soil and water conservation measures, and also by planting suitable trees and grass like bamboo.
  • It also suggests setting up of two national-level bodies—National Community Forest Management (CFM) Mission and National Board of Forestry (NBF)—for better management of the country’s forests.
  • The draft calls for state boards of forestry headed by state ministers in charge of forests to be established for ensuring inter-sectoral convergence, simplification of procedures, conflict resolution, among other things.
  • National Forest Policy will be an overarching policy for forest management, with the aim of bringing a minimum of one-third of India’s total geographical area under forest or tree cover

Image Source: Hindustan Times


After reading this article, answer the following question for Mains answer writing practice. Also you can get your answer checked free of cost by clicking on the following link.

For Mains:

Q) There should be a revision in the Indian forest policy to boost domestic production of timber. Critically analyse. (250 words)