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Forest Policy Dialogue in India


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 worked with Forest Trends.

Finally, PROFOR helped support work undertaken in Jharkhand to develop a better understanding of the poverty linkages with forestry and to also develop a system to monitor social, environmental and economic impacts from community forestry.   The work was a collaboration with CIFOR and FAO, as well as the state forest department.


The 2006 report suggested that if national and state level reforms were introduced and forest productivity improved, rural poverty could be reduced significantly and government revenues increased. Globally, many governments are increasing the rights of forest communities to use and manage forest resources. This has raised communities’ incomes and has improved forest cover. Report recommendations include:

  1. Give communities greater rights to use forest resources and wider responsibilities for forest management after building local capacity. This will enable communities to tap the enormous forest potential and also conserve valuable forest cover.
  2. Introduce stronger forest management systems. This includes the provision of more reliable maps of forest tenure, computerized databases of forest resources, monitoring systems that track forest and livelihood changes, and market information for timber in national and global markets.
  3. Improve communities' access to more open markets. As communities gain capacities and confidence, better access to unregulated markets can help them capitalize on new domestic and international opportunities.
  4. Build capacities and strengthen local governing institutions. This can help all community members to benefit equitably from commercial forestry. Forest department field staff can benefit enormously from training in new approaches to community forest management. Greater investment and training in forest monitoring and regulation will help support conservation.


Since the report came out in 2006, many of these recommendations have been implemented within a World Bank project -- the Andhra Pradesh Community Forestry Management project, which closed in March 31, 2010. This activity successfully demonstrated how a transition from Joint Forest Management to Community Forest Management can produce transformational benefits by building the capacities of community institutions, investing in forest productivity, and giving people greater incentives to develop into independent community forest enterprises. The experience is described in greater detail in the PDF file attached here

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Author : World Bank South Asia and Forest Trends [1] [1]
Last Updated : 02-24-2017