Sustainable Forest Management

by | Aug 15, 2023 | Conservation, Forest Management

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Sustainable forest management (SFM) is a holistic approach to managing forests in a way that balances environmental, social, and economic objectives. The goal of SFM is to ensure the long-term health and productivity of forests while providing benefits to present and future generations. It involves making informed decisions about how forests are used, conserved and restored to maintain their ecological integrity and support sustainable development.

Forest and Employment Generation 

Economic expansion, population growth, and urbanization are all driving up demand for forest products, which are expected to skyrocket in the next decades. Global demand for industrial Roundwood alone is expected to triple by 2050.

More than 13.2 million people are employed in the official timber sector. It also manufactures over 5,000 different types of wood-based goods and generates over $600 billion in gross value added each year. However, the wood sector’s economic impact is substantially bigger because it is primarily informal, and its value is usually unrecorded.

Incorporating the informal sector into GDP calculations might treble the timber sector’s contribution and double the number of associated full-time employment. Furthermore, the wood fuel business employs tens of millions of people through small-scale wood gathering, charcoal manufacture, transportation, and sale. The charcoal business in Sub-Saharan Africa alone employs an estimated 7 million people.

Sustainable forest management has the potential to become an essential component of job creation initiatives since it offers certain distinct advantages in meeting a variety of economic, social, and environmental goals. A number of nations’ plans stress the transition to a green future, with the goal of supporting industries that will produce real assets, enhance energy efficiency, expand the use of renewable resources, and battle climate change.

Forestry is a labor-intensive industry with minimal capital investment, and labor and land are the two most important inputs in the production of wood and non-wood forest products, as well as environmental services. Upstream forestry investments can produce more employment than most other industries. Many local governments are creating parks and other green areas in order to enhance the urban environment.

Sustainable Forest Management

Management of Local Commodities Action 

The most vulnerable communities will benefit from increased sustainable management of forest, land, and water resources. Local communities are anticipated to be able to work with local and national governments to improve natural resource management and utilization.

One of the primary natural resource management concerns is the lack of empowerment of local populations in choices about forest resources, which contributes to degradation. Furthermore, some existing legal frameworks do not explicitly provide local communities authority over their natural resources but rather describe how communities should use such resources.

Local communities should be encouraged to manage their resources through activities such as tree planting, beekeeping, the construction of communal woodlots, etc. However, due to deforestation, logging, population pressure, or legislative actions such as the proclamation of state forests, national parks, or animal reserves, it has become considerably more difficult for forest-dependent communities to use local forests and their products in recent years. Plans to safeguard forest ecosystems in many nations have failed to consider the needs and expertise of local forest-dependent populations. Local community participation is critical to any conservation endeavor. The improvement of Forest-based livelihoods is essentially dependent on expanding marketing options, resulting revenue, and job prospects. Local forest users must be properly represented in the processes of developing, implementing, and assessing devolution policies if they are to have true influence over forest management. Furthermore, rather than minimizing the expense of government forest management, the driving premise for policy talks should be to promote sustainable livelihoods for local resource users, particularly the poorest among them.

Forest Management Strategies (Social Forestry Programme and Joint Forest Management (JFM))

The Forest Management strategy establishes a vision as well as real activities to increase the amount and quality of forests, as well as to boost their preservation, restoration, and resilience. Its goal is to adapt forests to the changing circumstances, weather extremes, and high unpredictability caused by climate change. This is required for forests to continue performing socio-economic services and to sustain strong rural communities with thriving populations.

Social Forestry Programme

Social forestry is the management and maintenance of forests, as well as afforestation on wastelands, with the goal of assisting in environmental, social, and rural development. The social forestry initiative aimed to empower ordinary people to develop plantations that would supply the expanding need for lumber, fuelwood, fodder, and so on, reducing strain on traditional forest regions. This notion of village forests to suit the requirements of rural people has existed in India for generations.

Joint Forest Management

Joint Forest Management is the official and widely used phrase in India for forest movement collaborations, including both state forest authorities and local communities. The Joint Forest Movement’s aims and objectives are stated in the Government of India’s 1988 Comprehensive National Forest Policy and 1990 Joint Forest Management Guidelines.

Although schemes range from state to state and are called by different names in different Indian languages, a JFM agreement is normally entered into by a local body known as the Forest Protection Committee (FPC) and the Forest Department. Villagers agree to help maintain forest resources by protecting them from fire, grazing, and unlawful harvesting in exchange for non-timber forest products and a part of the profits.

Various Strategies of Micro-Level Planning and Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) 

The “MICRO PLAN” is an integrated participatory development plan of a village/Joint Forest Management Committee (JFMC)/Eco-Development Committee (EDC), its natural resource base, including forest lands given to the JFMC/EDC under the Joint Forest Management (JFM) program by integrating people. The micro plan also focuses on the community’s sustainable livelihood development based on conservation.

A micro plan will concentrate on both forestry and community development operations. A micro plan should contain all of the potential and prospects for local development and other natural resource base development that may be addressed through various existing programs and initiatives.

During the micro-planning process, it must be made clear that the villages must also contribute, whether in the form of voluntary labor or other contributions to the activities execution. It must also be stated that certain places do not require external assistance for growth. The villagers must undertake such efforts.

Participatory rural assessment (PRA) is a method utilized by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other international development organizations. The strategy strives to include rural people’s expertise and opinions in the design and administration of development initiatives and programs. PRA places an emphasis on local knowledge and engages people in inventorying, monitoring, and planning local forest management. PRA actively empowers marginalized populations, de-emphasizes hierarchies, and aids in the identification of resource requirements and sustainable usage systems since it is a collaborative process.

Read More About: PRA

Land Management and Agro-Forestry (LMS) 

The process of managing the use and development of land resources is known as land management. Organic agriculture, reforestation, water resource management, and eco-tourism projects are all examples of how land resources are exploited. Land management may have an impact on terrestrial ecosystems in both good and bad ways. Overuse or exploitation of land may deteriorate and impair production, as well as upset natural balance.

The conversion of forests to agricultural land produces massive volumes of greenhouse emissions. Instead, using sustainable forest and land management strategies can assist these ecosystems in retaining and storing considerable quantities of carbon. While emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, which account for about 12% of total global emissions today, are on the decline, agricultural emissions, which account for 12% of total global emissions today, are expected to rise through 2030, driven by population growth and changes in dietary preferences in developing economies.

Agroforestry is a land-use strategy that incorporates trees and shrubs on farmlands and rural landscapes to improve productivity, profitability, variety, and ecosystem sustainability. It is a dynamic, ecologically oriented natural resource management strategy that diversifies and maintains productivity while also building social institutions via the integration of woody perennials on farms and in the agricultural landscape.

Through production, industrial application, and value-addition initiatives, agroforestry has considerable potential to give employment to rural and urban populations. According to current estimates, farms provide around 65% of the country’s wood requirements. Agroforestry also provides several job prospects.

Natural Resource Poverty and Development

The relationship between the environment and poverty is a complicated phenomenon. Eradication of poverty will be possible if the poor have access to natural capital, such as land, water, forest, and minerals, in order to create commercial products and marine resources. Without it, the poor may continue to coexist alongside resource-rich environments, particularly in rural areas. Population expansion may lead to more problems in the absence of appropriately regulated distribution and usage of natural resources.

Because the poor rely more heavily on natural resource-based activities in agriculture and related industries, they are frequently viewed as both perpetrators and victims of environmental deterioration. This monolithic concept of a “vicious spiral” of poverty and resource degradation has been challenged in the contemporary developing world, seeking actual data on the relationship between poverty and the environment.

It has also been stated that real-life situations are frequently varied, indicating a variety of interfaces between the two. There is substantial evidence, for example, that the impoverished do not necessarily harm the environment. Similarly, there are other instances where unplanned developmental projects are the primary cause of environmental damage.

Natural resource usage, pollution, poverty, and other environmental concerns have become important to the prospects for long-term economic growth and, by extension, sustainable development.

Natural resources have a double-edged influence on economic growth in that increasing the intensity of their usage improves production while increasing the pace of depletion. Natural resources are important inputs in the manufacturing process that promotes economic progress. However, because natural resources are dwindling and factor input yields are declining, reliance on natural resource exploitation is not an effective approach for long-term growth. By extension, the intense use of natural resources undermines long-term development.

Conflict Resolution in NRM (Natural Resource Management)

Natural resource and environmental quality conflicts are common. A never-ending stream of conflicts increasingly characterizes natural resource governance. People who care about the protection and use of natural resources have discovered over the last 45 years that teamwork and conflict resolution are two of the most effective approaches to preventing and resolving these sorts of issues. These methods frequently result in better-informed judgments, more enduring and generally supported solutions, improved working relationships, and lower costs of arguing.

Natural resource conflict resolution, especially through collaborative methods, needs exceptional leadership and management skills to encourage and direct individuals. All interested parties are leaders in their own right, representing various jurisdictions or constituencies, interests, and viewpoints – as well as wielding power and authority. Working across legal, institutional, cultural, knowledge, and other borders necessitates a different kind of “facilitative” or “collaborative” leadership.

Engaging in negotiation, collaboration, and consensus-seeking processes to build agreement and resolve conflicts on natural resource issues necessitates a certain level of professional integrity and accountability (i.e., ethics) – one that prioritizes participating in good faith, being open and transparent, following through on commitments, and separating personal values from the issues under consideration (in the case of process managers).

Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships in Managing Forest Resources

Multi-stakeholder partnerships involve organizations from various societal sectors collaborating, sharing risks, and combining their unique resources and competencies in ways that can generate and maximize value toward shared partnership and individual partner objectives, often through more innovative, sustainable, efficient, and/or systemic approaches.

Since Agenda 21 was introduced at the 1992 Rio World Summit, multi-stakeholder partnerships have grown in popularity. Their usage was further boosted by the Johannesburg Summit in 2002 and the Rio+20 Summit in 2012, both of which included them as official conclusions. Multistakeholder partnerships are expressly included in Goal 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals, although they are necessary for all of the Goals. MSPs have risen particularly significantly in the corporate sustainability agenda, with corporations forming partnerships to address human, social, infrastructural, or environmental problems to the long-term viability of their operations.

Social companionship or numerous stakeholders with distinct interests in the forest cannot be isolated from forest management. The new forest management paradigm seeks to improve meaningful stakeholder engagement. The development model of forest resource management is based on multi-stakeholder collaboration through constructing a collaborative forest management system that is participatory, integrated, and sustainable.

A strategic management strategy may be used to develop a system of stakeholder partnerships in the successful management of forest resources. It is through a preliminary study that analyses internal conditions such as an inventory of forest resources and the condition of forest communities through social mapping, external analysis, particularly analysis of stakeholders, that the opportunity to implement partnerships in forest resource management, program planning, implementation, and monitoring joint partnership program is recognized.

To Conclude

Sustainable forest management is critical for maintaining the health and resilience of forests, conserving biodiversity, mitigating climate change, and supporting the well-being of both natural ecosystems and human communities. It represents a forward-looking approach that acknowledges the interconnectedness of ecological, social, and economic aspects of forest management.

Also Read: The Surprising Amount of CO2 Trees Can Absorb


  • Dr. Emily Greenfield

    Dr. Emily Greenfield is a highly accomplished environmentalist with over 30 years of experience in writing, reviewing, and publishing content on various environmental topics. Hailing from the United States, she has dedicated her career to raising awareness about environmental issues and promoting sustainable practices.

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