Joint Forest Management
Joint Forest Management

Joint Forest Management

Introduction and History

India is the seventh largest country in the world with a total land area of 3.28 million square kilometers, 23% of which is forested. Forest cover is essential for sustenance of life and also for the maintenance of ecological, biological and environmental equilibrium. Since last three decades, there has been an increased concern about forest conservation, wildlife protection and people’s participation in protection and management of forests. In fact the decade of 1980s is considered to have brought about a paradigm shift in India's forest policy and legislations. The passing of the Forest Conservation Act in 1980 was followed by a host of measures to unleash a forest conservation movement in India based on local community support. The National Forest Policy of 1988 marked the first effort to set the pace for community participation in forest management. The revised National Forest Policy of 1988 took into consideration the symbiotic relationship between forests and the local indigenous people and their role in protection, regeneration and development of forests. This was the first step in the transition of forestry from being government-managed to now being community-managed. In June 1990, the Government of India issued a circular to give effect to the provisions of the National Forest Policy 1988 in this regard. Thus Joint Forest Management was born. Henceforth ‘Participatory Forestry Management’ was institutionalised as an integral part of forest governance and management. Under Joint Forest Management (JFM) programme, the forest areas are jointly managed by the local communities along with government (Forest Department) on a care and share basis. The local people help in the development and protection of forests and, in return, they get bamboos, small timbers, and a share in the final harvest of timber in addition to the Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs).

Gujarat has had a long tradition of involvement of people in the protection of forests. Joint Forest Management is being implemented in the Gujarat State vide Resolution of Forest & Environment Department, Govt. of Gujarat No FCA-1090-125-V (3) dated 13/3/1991 and Resolution of Forest & Environment Department, Govt. of Gujarat No. FCA-1090-125-K (Part-3) dated 27/6/1994. The first Resolution highlighted the responsibility of the village organization in the protection of forest land from unauthorized encroachment, illicit cutting and grazing. This has had very good results in raising forests and conservation and has been accepted very well by the people. For further extension and consolidation, it was decided vide Resolution of Forest & Environment Department, Govt. of Gujarat No. JFM-1005-191-G dated 17/12/2005 that Joint Forest Management (JFM) would be extended to good forest areas having tree densities above 0.40 in addition to degraded forest areas.

Division wise details about JFMCs

Continuous efforts are made to involve more and more people in JFM. As a result of these efforts, as many as 3414 Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs) are registered in the State covering an area of 458303.20 ha. The Division wise details about JFMCs are at Table-20.

Dependence of Locals on Forest Areas

The forests and trees outside forests in India support rich bio-diversity, provide a wide array of goods and ecosystem services, and support millions of forest-dependent people. Forest products contribute 20-40% of total household income in forested areas, with poorer households being more dependent on forest resources such as fuel wood, fodder and other non-timber forest products (NTFPs). Although the overall forest cover in India has remained stable over the past twenty years, approximately 40% of the forests have been and continue to be degraded by unsustainable extraction and population pressures.

Legal Framework : FDA and JFMC

National Afforestation Programme (NAP) is a major forestry scheme of the Government of India in which afforestation and related activities are intended to be implemented through public participation having joint forest management and eco-development committees. This scheme is being implemented by the National Afforestation and Eco Development Board (NAEB), Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. This is a 100% centrally sponsored scheme (CSS) and started in the 10th Five Year Plan with a two-tier institutional structure i.e. Forest Development Agency (FDA) and Joint Forest Management Committee (JFMC) or Eco-Development Committee (EDC). The village is reckoned as a unit of planning and implementation and all activities under the programme are conceptualized at the village level. The procedural details about functioning of JFMCs is as below:

  • The registration of Joint Forest Committees is carried out under Society Ragistration Act 1860 and/ or Mumbai Sarvjanic Trust Adhinium 1950.
  • These JFMCs prepare the micro plan of the area which is certified by the Working Plan.
  • These micro plans have details of development of forest area of the region.
  • In order to ensure economic development of local community, 20% of the poles and 20% of bamboos, developed from the implementation area of micro plan is given to members of JFMC.
  • The income generated by cutting of matured trees developed by JFMC under a micro plan which is authorized by Working Plan of the Area is distributed between JFMCs and Government. Of the total Income generated from tree harvesting, 20% goes to the JFMCs and 80% goes to the Government. Further, if the members of JFMCs have actively participated in the harvesting of tree/timber, 20% income of the 80% government share (which is 16% of total), is given to the JFMCs.

Benefit sharing with JFMCs

In order to ensure economic development of local community, 20% of the poles and 20% of bamboos, developed from the implementation area of micro plan is given to members of JFMC. The income generated by cutting of matured trees developed by JFMC under a micro plan which is authorized by Working Plan of the Area is being distributed between JFMCs and Government. Of the total Income generated from tree harvesting, 20% goes to the JFMCs and 80% goes to the Government. Further, if the members of JFMCs have actively participated in the harvesting of tree/timber, 20% income of the 80% government share (which is 16% of total), is being given to the JFMCs. Further, 20% of the grass produced from the reserved grasslands of the State can be harvested and taken by the members of JFMC of the area. The JFMC is authorized to sell the 20% grass collected by it to anyone, if find suitable.

Road Ahead – Cluster Development Plan

The Cluster Development Plan is a logical evolution of this Joint Forest Management movement. A cluster is a geographic concentration of interconnected villages, their whole socio- economic life, their major economic activities, businesses and associated institutions creating direct and indirect synergies among them and linked by commonalities and complementarities. The Cluster Development approach is an attempt to bring about socio-economic transformation of forest dependent communities by providing them livelihood opportunities by utilizing the synergies and productive associative relationships that develop in a cluster. Basically the Cluster Development Plan aims to super charge the economy of all constituent villages in a cluster by providing suitable economic (credit and subsidy) and material inputs and simultaneously undertaking intensive efforts for skill Upgradation and capacity building of all important stakeholders in the cluster.A cluster development plan for forest dependent communities cannot solely focus on the development of forests. Thus, it is envisaged that developing the NTFP market, adding value to various forest products, agricultural development, watershed development, dairy development and such programs related to natural resource development are to be promoted along with forest regeneration and development. This also means that several related government departments need to work together in the cluster for its overall development.

Photos of JFMCs

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