PART V: GUIDELINES FOR NATIONAL REPORTING TO CSD VIII RELATED TO FORESTS
Reporting Country: India
Ministry/Department: Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India
A large amount of national information already exists on forests and national progress towards sustainable forest management within the United Nations system and other intergovernmental organisations. Therefore, these guidelines do not address topics on which information has been collected recently on a global scale. Reference is made, in particular, to the following sources:
In addition to updating the attached information on forests that you have submitted to the CSD earlier, please consider the following guidelines in your report. If your country has recently provided information to an intergovernmental body or Secretariat on any of the items listed below, please make reference to the source.
Please describe briefly, not exceeding a half a page, the current situation of sustainable forest management in your country. Please include in your description the major post-UNCED achievements related to sustainable forest management in your country. These may relate to, for example, legal and institutional frameworks, forest conservation, low-impact forest harvesting, non-wood products and services, etc). In your response, you may also wish to address gaps and challenges to the development or enhancement of sustainable forest management in your country.
Realising the role of forests in controlling soil erosion, moderation of floods, recharging of ground aquifers, as habitat for wildlife, conservation of bio-diversity and gene pool, etc., several programmes have been launched from as early as the Second Five Year Plan. The Indian Forests Act, 1927 is the main Act which regulates the management of forest by the States. A two pronged strategy to increase forest cover has been adopted which essentially comprises of:
The forestry management in the country is being practiced on the basis of sustainable management for more than a century. However efforts are being made to ensure that the management plans of the forest areas are prepared taking advantage of the important latest technology like GIS, etc. and so as to reduce the period of preparation as well as the period of management plans in the country. Accordingly a comprehensive working plan code is being prepared for the whole country.
At its third session in 1995, the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) decided to establish the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF), to continue the intergovernmental forest policy deliberations since UNCED in 1992. The IPF worked over a two year period (1995 – 97) to pursue a consensus and formulate options for further actions in order to: promote the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests; combat deforestation and forest degradation; promote international cooperation; and to facilitate international trade in forest products. The two years of intensive work of the IPF resulted, in 1997, in over one hundred negotiated proposals for action on a number of issues related to sustainable forest management directed to countries, international organisations, and major groups including the private sector.
The proposals for action of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) are related to, inter alia, national forest programmes, forest assessment, criteria and indicators, traditional forest related knowledge and underlying causes of deforestation.
Please indicate the extent to which your country has participated in the IPF process.
IPF/IFF Process: India has been participating in all the IPF/IFF meetings and India agrees with the overall action relating to National Forest Programme, Forest assessment, criteria and indicators, traditional forest related causes and underline causes of deforestation. However, India has taken a view that there has to be an instrument to coordinate the efforts of various international instruments and institutions. Accordingly, India has moved for creation of a permanent forum like Global Forest Facility on the lines of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), to further carry out the dialogue and discussions on the contentious/unresolved issues. India has also taken a view that financial resources/funding is one of the major problem areas and therefore, it is necessary to assign this exclusive function to one of the International Arrangements and Mechanisms (IAMs).
Please indicate if you have assessed the relevance of the IPF proposals for action for your country.
Please describe briefly the major points and concrete steps in implementing the IPF proposals for action in your country.
Please indicate areas where new actions could be taken.
Major forest areas in India and other developing countries are owned and managed by government, and local people have rights and concessions over the usufructs. The main problem area if most developing countries including India is of financial resources or funding. Financial resources have been identified only as a supporting function under the Principle function of policy implementation. This needs reconsideration. It is suggested that one of the IAMs must be assigned this exclusive function. It should perhaps be mandatory for this IAM to ensure that funding is based on the National Forest Action Plan prepared by the country and not on other parameters.
Policy and other instruments, and legal framework
If you have a national forest programme (nfp), is it a part of your national sustainable development strategy? Was your nfp developed or updated in accordance with the guidelines established by the IPF.
In consonance with the recommendation of IPF, India has prepared the National Forest Action Programme in the year 1999 in consultation with FAO which incorporates the agreed commitments by India.
Please specify the linkages, if any, between your national forest programme and integrated land management strategy or policy.
All the State Governments and various concerned Ministries of the Government of India, including Ministry of Rural Development, Department of Land Resources and the Planning Commission are being requested to see the National Forestry Action Programmes for drawing out linkages with the land management strategies.
Please indicate if effective mechanisms exist to harmonise cross-sectoral policies related to forests (e.g. environment, agriculture, land-use, industry, air, water, economy or other relevant sectors) and how this is reflected in your national forest programme and/or your national sustainable development strategy.
The cross-sectoral issues like rural employment, water and soil conservation, fodder production, firewood production to meet energy requirements of 80% of the rural population, etc. has been taken care of in the National Forestry Action Programme.
Please indicate if compensation is provided for forest owners who provide non-market environmental benefits to society by managing their forests sustainably.
Not relevant in the context of India as more than 95% forests are owned and managed by the Government.
Please describe, if relevant, recent (post-UNCED) progress in recognising and respecting customary and traditional rights, including the right to land and land tenure of indigenous people, local communities, forest dwellers and forest owners.
Most of the forest in the country recognizes the customer rights and concessions of the local people over it.
Please describe briefly any private or public initiatives on forest certification in your country. If information is available, please evaluate if forest certification has facilitated the access of wood products to national and international markets. Please also indicate if certification has promoted sustainable forest management.
The issue of certification is being examined by the Government and no final view has been taken on the issue.
Several regional initiatives are underway on criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management such as the Pan-European Process, Montreal process, the Dry Zone Africa, North Africa and Near East, and Central America initiatives, the Tarapoto Proposal, the initiatives of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and African Timber Organization. Many countries have also developed their own national set of criteria and indicators.
Please specify in which of the international initiatives on criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management your country participates.
The Government has taken initiatives to identify the criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management.Please describe briefly the use of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management in your country as a tool for (i) reporting, (ii) policy development or (iii) policy monitoring.Please identify which of the criteria and indicators used in your country could be useful to assess progress towards sustainable forest management at the international level.
In addition to the above, please indicate how information on sustainable forest management is made available to potential users? Can it be accessed via the Internet? Please provide the addresses of the national World Wide Web Sites that contain the requisite data.
Overriding issuesAccording to the multi-year programme of work of the CSD, the overriding issues in each CSD session are poverty and consumption and production patterns.Please describe the relationship between forestry and poverty in your country and the impact of each on the other.
Forest based livestock farming and forest are highly interdependent. Livestock development in the country has taken in two different areas in two different pretexts. The first pretext, which relates with dairy and poultry, is on an industrial base, involving more of person's management rather than persons of husbandry. However, in the second, which relates with the poor class of people/ rural poor, is resource based and depends upon forest, grassland and pastures. Therefore, forest based livestock farming needs more attention in order to result in both improvement of the economic condition of the farmers and conservation of the forests.
Do you currently recycle forest products? If so, what types and in what quantities (as a percentage of total used)?
Please identify discussion, policies or initiatives in your country to promote the use of forest products in place of products made of non-renewable materials.
Other issuesPlease identify if there are any other major issues not described above related to sustainable forest management that are important to your country.