Over a quarter of India’s poorest people, many of whom are indigenous people, depend on forests for part of their livelihoods. But, almost half the country’s forests have been degraded, and their average productivity is a third of their potential.
In 2004, the World Bank engaged in comprehensive forest sector studies in India to support new lending for community forestry projects at the state level, and guide policy dialogue between the Bank and the Government of India. The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) established a National Forest Commission, chaired by the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to review forest policy, legislation, administration and institutions in India, particularly as they relate to local communities and tribal people. Through PROFOR support, a partnership comprised of the World Bank, Forest Trends, PROFOR and MOEF presented case studies on global experiences with community forest management to diverse audiences including the National Forest Commission, the Prime Minister's office, NGOs, tribal leaders and state officers in December 2004. Through this dialogue, leaders from different states were brought together to build consensus, an opportunity was created for states to influence federal policy, and dialogue with other sectors was encouraged.
The Bank presented preliminary results from its ongoing studies in two states, covering forest management and resource assessment systems, legal framework, institutions, marketing systems, and community perspectives. Forest Trends, an international NGO based in Washington DC, highlighted global experiences on how other countries have made the transition to community forestry.
As a next step toward improving forest management in India, the World Bank published "Unlocking Opportunities for Forest-Dependent People in India" in 2006.
PROFOR resources helped with broader report dissemination in three locations including Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Assam. PROFOR helped bring in experts from China and Latin America to share their experiences. The World Bank's South Asia staff wor