Social Forestry
Social Forestry

Introduction

According to the National Forest Policy 1988, one - third of the geographical area of the country should be maintained as forest and tree cover. According to State of Forest Report (2009), Gujarat has only 11.04% of its geographical area declared as forest, which is much below the national average. Forest and tree cover is in the extent of 11.74 % (7.48 % forest cover and 4.26% tree cover outside forest-TOF) of its geographical area. More than half of the population of the state resides in the rural areas, which is directly dependent on forest resources for their fuel-wood, fodder, small timber and other requirements. Due to these reasons, regeneration, maintaining the productivity level and sustainability of the non-forest lands, particularly the common lands has become imperative for the state to meet the increasing rural needs.

Promotion of tree planting on non-forest land, through Social Forestry programme has, therefore, was considered to be the only answer to improve the green cover as well as to conserve the forests in Gujarat State. With this background, as early as in the year 1969-70, Gujarat Forest Department launched a "Social Forestry Programme" for planting trees on non-forest lands and since then the programme has been continuously strengthened and as a result of that the Gujarat State has become a pioneer as also a leading state in this field.

The Social Forestry programme was launched with following objectives.

  • To increase tree cover outside the forest areas.
  • To encourage participation of people and institutions in plantation related activities.
  • To increase the production of forest produce (Small timber, firewood, fodder, fruits and other NTFP) to meet the needs of the local population.
  • To enhance the productivity of the degraded farm lands through tree plantation.
  • To augment the income of farmers through agroforestry.
  • To create livelihood opportunities for rural poor.
  • To improve carbon stock in the tree cover outside forest areas.

The success story of Gujarat in the field of social forestry has been globally acclaimed. As a result of continuous effort to increase the tree cover in Gujarat, the achievements of the state can be listed among the best conservation/restoration stories in the world. As per the India State of Forests report 2011 published by Forest Survey of India, the Tree cover outside forests (ToF) was 7837sq km which has increased to 8358 sq km (Forest Survey of India report 2013) which is 4.26% of geographical area as against to 2.78 % of National average. It is to mention that despite the fact having adverse agro climatic conditions, Gujarat is the second highest among the states of India, in having area under trees outside forests.

Gujarat is the only State in the country which has initiated the tree census for the areas outside forests. So far three censuses have been carried out, the details of findings are as under. The number of trees outside the forest area increased from about 25.1 crores in 2003 to 26.9 crores in 2009 to 30.14 cores in 2013 in the state, and tree density from 16.1 trees/ha in 2009 to 18.5 trees/ha in 2013.

Timber production from trees growing outside forest in Gujarat is very impressive and annual economic contribution- (Gross Value Output-GVO) of trees outside forest (TOF) in form of timber to the state economy was Rs 4,388 crores in 2008 (Source: Central Statistical Organisation, sponsored by the Planning Commission of India). Gujarat was fuel wood and timber deficit state a few decades ago but it is now surplus in fuel wood production and is well on the way of reaching near surplus in timber production, due to social forestry programmes. The state has planned to increase number of trees outside forest from about 30.14 crores to 35.0 crores within a decade through intensive social forestry activities.

Go to Navigation