The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has released the “National Working Plan Code-2023” for scientific forest management and evolving new approaches. This is a plan for the scientific management of forests and is crucial for environmental stability. Read here to learn more.
India is one of the few countries in the world that has a scientific system of forest management.
The working plan is the main instrument through which the scientific management of flora and fauna is being achieved in India.
National Working Plan Code which was first adopted in 2004 with a subsequent amendment in 2014 brought uniformity and acted as the guiding principle for the preparation of the working plan for scientific management of different forest divisions of our country.
National Working Plan Code
The forests in India are being managed for a multitude of reasons like-
- maintaining environmental stability
- conserving natural heritage
- checking soil erosion
- denudation of catchment areas
- checking the extension of dunes
- increasing tree and forest cover with people’s involvement
- increasing the productivity of forests
Scientific management of forests in India and the world is consistently evolving with new approaches, new technologies, and innovations and it has become imperative to evolve ourselves to meet the essentials of forest management and the requirements of people who depended on it.
The National Working Plan Code-2023 will act as a guiding principle for State Forest Departments in preparation for the working plan for different forest divisions in the country.
- National Working Plan Code-2023 deals in detail with the essentials of management planning, incorporating the principles of sustainable management of forests.
- This includes the extent and condition of forest and tree cover; maintenance, conservation, and enhancement of biodiversity including wildlife, forest health, and vitality, conservation and management of soil and water resources, enhancement of forest resource productivity, maintenance and enhancement of social, economic, cultural and spiritual benefits, and providing the appropriate policy, legal and institutional framework.
- For the first time, the National Working Plan Code-2023 has prescribed state forest departments to engage in continuous data collection and its updation in a centralized database.
The “Indian Forest Management Standard” (IFMS) which is a part of this code, takes into account the diverse forest ecosystem in our country while trying to bring uniformity in management.
- The Standards for Sustainable Forest Management have been codified in the IFMS, based on long-term experiences of scientific forest management in India in sync with international criteria and indicators.
- IFMS would facilitate the State Forest Departments to measure the effectiveness of the management practices against prescriptions of Working Plans.
National Working Plan Code will incorporate IFMS, a set of eight comprehensive guidelines and rules applicable to all states.
These eight standards are holistic as they independently focus upon:
- Soil and water conservation
- productivity and utilisations of forest resources
- enhancement of social-economic and cultural benefits related to forests
- extent and condition of forest and tree cover and adequacy of policy
- legal and Institutional Framework
These standards developed from the Bhopal-India process (1998), one of the nine global initiatives for the management of the wilderness.
- It will bring uniformity and act as a guiding principle for State Forest Departments in preparation for the working plan for different forest divisions in the country.
- It deals in detail with the essentials of forest management planning, incorporating the principles of sustainable management of forests.
Scientific Forest Management
Sustainable and scientific management of forests concepts differ in their meanings.
- Utilizing and maintaining forests in a way that preserves their environmental, social, and economic values and advantages throughout time is known as sustainable forest management. It highlights the achievement of equilibrium between preserving forest health and variety and the growing demand for forest products and services.
- A framework (or management practice) called Scientific Forest Management directs us toward achieving sustainable forest management.
Scientific maintenance of forests not only serves to balance the population’s need for food, fuel, and forest products and generates benefits for the nation in the near term, but also guarantees the forests’ long-term health.
Scientific maintenance of forests may solve current issues such as the improvement of forests, poverty, and the impact of climate change while preserving biodiversity and ecological balance.
It includes the decreased effect of logging, including timber waste, selective logging, providing safer animal habitats, and timely harvesting of tree crops, to minimize the environmental impact on forests and soil.
Also read: Forest – Know the Different Types
Sustainable Forest Management
Sustainable management of forests aims to ensure that forests supply goods and services to meet both present-day and future needs and contribute to the sustainable development of communities.
The United Nations General Assembly in 2007 recognizes sustainable management of wilderness as a dynamic and evolving concept that aims to maintain and enhance the economic, social, and environmental values of all types of forests for the benefit of present and future generations, considering the following seven thematic elements as a reference framework:
- the extent of forest resources
- forest biodiversity
- forest health and vitality
- productive functions of forest resources
- protective functions of forest resources
- socio-economic functions of forests
- legal, policy, and institutional framework
Sustainable management of forests encompasses the administrative, legal, technical, economic, social, and environmental aspects of the conservation and use of forests.
It implies various degrees of human intervention, ranging from actions aimed at safeguarding and maintaining forest ecosystems and their functions to those favoring specific socially or economically valuable species or groups of species for the improved production of goods and services.
Also read: Mangrove Forest in India
Many of the world’s forests and woodlands are not being managed sustainably and scientifically, especially in the tropics and subtropics.
Many countries lack appropriate forest legislation, regulations, and incentives to promote Sustainable and scientific management of forests.
Many have inadequate funding and human resources for the preparation, implementation, and monitoring of forest governance plans and lack mechanisms to ensure the participation and involvement of all stakeholders in forest governance, planning, and development.
Where governance of forest plans exists, they are frequently limited to ensuring the sustained production of wood. They lack sufficient attention to the sustainable production of non-wood products and ecosystem services and the maintenance of social and environmental values.
Also, other land uses may appear more economically attractive to land managers than the management of the forests, thus leading to forest degradation and deforestation.
-Article by Swathi Satish