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People often stand at the crossroads of conservation and consumption, making their role in forest management paramount. While forests silently stretch across continents, acting as the planet’s lungs and housing biodiversity, it’s the actions and decisions of people that determine their fate. Forest management isn’t just about trees, terrain, or wildlife; it’s also profoundly about the communities that live within, around, and even far from these wooded landscapes. People have the capacity to either be the stewards or the exploiters of these vast green expanses. Understanding the symbiotic relationship between people and forest management offers a lens into the intricate balance of preserving our natural resources while catering to human needs.
Humans and forests have always been interdependent on each other. In recognition of the intricate interplay between human actions and forest health, the role of people in forest management has gained increasing importance. This article sheds light on the essential contributions and responsibilities of individuals and communities in safeguarding and nurturing our forests for future generations.
Community and Social forestry are two concepts in forestry that demonstrate the relationship between people and forest management.
It is the practice of managing forests to benefit nearby people. It focuses on enhancing rural, environmental, and social development by addressing issues including forest management, forest preservation, and afforestation of deforested regions. In contrast to previous forestry initiatives, social forestry prioritizes the needs of nearby populations. Because of this, the primary objective of social forestry is to expand the number of trees and plantations to satisfy people’s increasing demands for wood, food, fuel, and other necessities while easing the strain and dependence on traditional forest regions.
Social forestry involves local communities who live near or in forests with their sustainable use and management. By increasing awareness, expanding capacity, creating policies with locals, and acknowledging their rights and knowledge systems, this style of management gives communities more control. Communities receive advantages from them and access to forest resources in exchange for taking part in sustainable forest management.
It refers to a set of institutional arrangements in which communities participate fully or partially in decision-making, reap the rewards, and provide labor and expertise in order to maintain healthy forests and promote social well-being. The term “social forestry” refers to a variety of internally and externally driven programs and locally initiated and executed forest management.
It entails the process of deciding how to use and conserve forest resources within a local community, with the organization of the activities based on common values and the interests of the local populace. A community may be a location in the sense of a human settlement with a defined and bounded local territory, a local social structure including interactions among residents of the same physical region, or a category of connections distinguished by a common sense of identity.
Joint Forest Management (JFM) is a strategy and program introduced in the context of the National Forest Policy of 1988. State forest departments work with local communities who live near or within forests to protect and manage those forests and to split the costs and benefits associated with doing so. Communities form a JFM Committee to conserve and manage the local woods under the direction of bylaws and micro plans that were created locally.
The main component of JFM is that communities have the authority to control how members and outsiders utilize forests. Direct access, control over the use and sale of the majority of NTFPs, a part of the proceeds from the sale of wood, as well as other intangible advantages from local ecosystem services, such as water recharge, pollination, wildlife habitat, etc., are benefits to them. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for communities to participate in the conservation of forests and animals.
The National Forest Policy of 1988 signals a new approach by giving priority to the ecological role of forests and acknowledging that communities are essential to the protection and management of forests, whereas the Forest Conservation Act of 1980 provides centralized oversight for forest land diversion. Importantly, it also gives local populations the usage of forest areas for sustenance first priority. Accordingly, JFM makes an effort to channel the strengths and enthusiasm of local rural communities for protecting and managing forests through JFM Committees/Eco-Development Committees and aids in meeting their needs for subsistence and livelihood in addition to producing local environmental services.
Read More About JFM in India
In order to increase the area covered by tree growth, Forest Extension is a practice of forestry in regions devoid of tree growth and other plants that are located outside of traditional forest areas.
The extension is the process of providing farmers with pertinent information and guidance and distributing such information and advice as input in contemporary farming.
Agroforestry technology, the preservation of small-size logs and wood processing technologies, scientific knowledge about biodiversity, and novel concepts in conservation are all used in forestry extension programs to fulfill the demands of small-scale farmers.
The volunteer’s unique background and traits are the most important resource for efficient extension work. The level of extension efforts is influenced by the forester’s own education and training, expertise and experience, communication skills, and capacity to ask for assistance from other sources when necessary.
The planning process for a forestry extension program includes these 6 phases: policy and resource analysis, client requirements assessment, goal formulation, program/project plan creation, program implementation, and program evaluation.
Training and site visits, demonstration farm projects, producer meetings, instructional materials, and media use are all recognized extension strategies. To effectively steer the process of technological change and progress, extension operations must be multi-media.
For assessing the capacity of forests as carbon sinks, the estimation of forest carbon density is a key metric. The foundation for understanding the mechanisms by which forest ecosystems react to global climate change is an accurate calculation of carbon density.
The two main carbon reservoirs in forests are biomass and soil organic carbon. Living above-ground biomass (AGB), below-ground biomass (BGB) – roots, and dead biomass – litter and wood debris – are additional categories for biomass pools. The biomass is measured in tonnes of dry matter (biomass) per hectare, which is then multiplied by 0.5 to equal carbon. The amount of soil organic carbon is measured in tonnes of carbon per hectare and is stored in soils as organic matter, moistened material, and stable structures like charcoal.
Although this greatly varies on the ecology, forest trees often make up the biggest amount of the overall biomass. In tropical rainforests, the majority of the carbon stock is, in fact, stored in the trees, but in savanna woodlands, the amount of carbon stored in the soil and tree roots may be greater.
A suitable approach must be chosen in order to get the most accurate findings because there are several Carbon estimate methods available for estimating various forest carbon pools.
Some of the well-known methods for forest carbon estimation are the Plot Method, Harvest method, Modelling, Plot less or transect method, Carbon flux measurements, and Remote sensing.
Read More: Methods of Forest carbon estimation
Forestry Utilization is the subject in forestry that deals with the harvest, processing, and disposal of forest produce. Although wood products, notable timber, have historically received the majority of attention, the economic and social significance of other non-wood products is now properly recognized in the context of forest management.
Active, ethical forest management is essential for both healthy forests and robust markets. Timber harvesting and forest management expand as a result of markets for wood and forest products. Active forest management enhances the well-being of trees and forest resources, ensuring the long-term viability of forests.
The Forest Products Utilization program’s main objective is to assist in the creation of robust, long-lasting markets for the state’s tree and forest resources. This is achieved through staff members offering professional technical help, creating high-quality information resources, stimulating company expansion and new business creation, and establishing strong collaborative partnerships with businesses and other organizations.
Forest utilization is the process of harvesting forest products, moving them to markets, turning them into useful commodities, and distributing them to their final destinations.
Principal branches of forest use are:
Some of the forests produce in forest utilization other than timbers are:
There have been a number of specific people’s movements and protests related to forest management. Some notable examples include:
These are just a few examples of the many ways that people are involved in forest management today. As the world faces increasing challenges such as climate change and deforestation, the role of people in forest management is likely to become even more important in the years to come.
Also Read: How Deforestation Affects The Environment?