Report of National workshop on Protocol Development for Sustainable Governance of NTFP Resources
Sustainable Livelihoods for Sustainable Joint Forest Management
Forest ecosystem, as a natural resource base, provides benefits that support the livelihoods of countless human beings. Forests provide a wide range of timber and non-timber produces, including fuelwood, fodder, food, medicines etc., which act as natural resource inputs that are then converted into economic outputs and thus contribute towards the livelihoods of the people. The quality of the forest and the pattern of forest management determine its productivity and flow of natural forest products for generating livelihood options for the people. The productivity and sustainable harvesting pattern of a particular forest, in turn, determine the volume of forest resources available for the livelihood of the community dependent on forest. Thus, there is a direct link between the quality of the forest resource base and the sustainability of the livelihood of the community for its survival, assuming that the forest is managed on a sustainable basis. But there are other factors as well that influence sustainable forest management and - by extension - the sustainability of the livelihood of people.

The increasing depletion of India’s forest resources has brought into sharp focus the inherent inadequacies of traditional, state owned and run systems of forest management in sustaining the forest resource base. The National Forest Policy 1988 of India envisages people’s involvement in the development and protection of forests to meet the growing demands for fodder, firewood and timber. The policy talks about “creating a massive people’s movement, with the involvement of women, for achieving these objectives and to minimize pressure on existing forests”. Based on the above policy, the Joint Forest Management (JFM) programme has been implemented to strengthen community institutions as well as institutions of the Forest Departments (FD) of the states for sustainable forest management. Joint Forest Management (JFM) seeks to forge partnerships between forest fringe user groups and the Forest Department on the basis of mutual trust and a jointly defined set of roles and responsibilities with regard to forest protection and development.

Sustainable forest management integrates two interdependent goals- ‘well being of the forest’ and ‘well being of the people’. Sustainability rests on the principle that we must meet the basic livelihood needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Therefore, sustainability of both natural and human resources is of prime importance. Sustainability of human resources involves assessment of social capital and assignment of responsibilities for management of resources. Sustainability of natural resources, on the other hand, calls for maintaining or enhancing this vital resource base in the long term. Understanding sustainability needs a perspective on systems. System, in this context, is envisioned in its broadest possible sense - from the individual member of the Joint Forest Management Committee (JFMC) to the social and ecosystem. An emphasis on the system leads to a clearer and better understanding of the consequences of forest management practices on human communities and the environment. A systems approach gives us the tools to explore the interconnections between Silvicultural practices and other aspects of the environment.