Do you know what is meant by social forestry? Why is it important? What are its classifications? Read further to know more.
The term social forestry was coined by J.C. Westoby. The National Commission on Agriculture (NCA, 1976) first recognized it as an important component of forestry for meeting rural needs.
Social forestry means the management and protection of forests and afforestation on barren lands and the practice of forestry on lands outside the conventional forest area with the purpose of helping in environmental, social, and rural development.
Importance of Social Forestry
Social forestry offers an alternative form of forest management. It is an approach that balances the needs of local people with multiple external interests.
- Promotes sustainable forest use and management among communities who live near and in close proximity to forests
- Empowers communities by increasing awareness, building capacity, working with locals to establish policies, and respecting their rights and knowledge systems
- Gives communities access to forest resources and benefits in exchange for their participation in sustainable forest management
Classification of Social Forestry
The objectives of social forestry adopted by the NCA were to fulfill the basic and economic needs of the community.
The National Commission on Agriculture (1976) has classified social forestry into three categories. These are:
- Urban Forestry
- Rural Forestry, and
- Farm Forestry
Urban forestry pertains to the raising and management of trees on public and privately owned lands in and around urban centers such as green belts, parks, roadside avenues, industrial and commercial green belts, etc.
The Ministry is implementing the Nagar Van Yojana the scheme initiated for the creation of Nagar Van (city forest) in urban areas under the National Fund of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).
Development of Urban Forests will contribute to India’s decision to sequester 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in the country’s forests. They will also function as urban lungs.
Rural forestry lays emphasis on the promotion of agro-forestry and community forestry.
Agro-forestry is the raising of trees and agricultural crops on the same land inclusive of the waste patches. It combines forestry with agriculture, thus, altering the simultaneous production of food, fodder, fuel, timber, and fruit.
Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (Har Medh Par Ped) Scheme was launched in 2016-17 to encourage tree plantation on farmland along with crops/ cropping systems to help the farmers get additional income and make their farming systems more climate resilient and adaptive.
The Agro-forestry scheme envisages a lot of quantifiable benefits like additional income, protection from crop damage, and higher carbon sequestration along with climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Planting trees on public or community land, such as schoolyards, roadsides, canal banks, village pastures, and temple grounds, is known as community forestry.
The goal of community forestry programs is to benefit the entire community. Community forestry provides a means under which the people of landless classes can associate themselves with tree raising and thus, get those benefits that otherwise are restricted for landowners.
According to a study that was published in the journal Nature Sustainability, community-forest management led to a 37 percent relative decrease in deforestation and a 4.3 percent relative decrease in poverty.
Farm forestry is the term used to describe the practice of farmers growing trees on their fields for both commercial and non-commercial purposes. Non-commercial farm forestry refers to the practice of growing trees in a variety of places, including the margins of agricultural fields, grasslands and pastures, the land surrounding dwellings, and cow sheds.
Farm Forestry can take many different forms, such as timber belts, plantations, woodlots, widely spaced tree plantings, and the sustainable management of existing native plant stands.
Benefits of Social Forestry
The benefits of Social Forestry are:
Increased Biodiversity: Growing trees in barren lands within the community helps to increase the forest coverage hence helping in increasing the biodiversity.
Carbon Removal: Trees act as carbon sinks In the fight against the global warming effect. It plays an essential role in the removal of carbon from the environment. So it is seen as the best way to reduce carbon dioxide in urban settings.
Curbing Global Warming: Areas with tree cover will be substantially cooler than areas without it, helping in lowering energy consumption.
Soil Conservation: Tree roots prevent soil erosion by holding soil in place, mitigating the negative effects of soil erosion.
Health Benefits: Trees and nature are natural remedies for stress and anxiety along with other health benefits
Noise Pollution: Embracing social forestry in urban areas can mitigate the effects of noise pollution. Trees reflect and absorb sound energy reducing noise pollution.
Improve Air Quality: Although it is mostly related to the removal of carbon dioxide from the environment, it also helps to clean and improve the quality of air.
The respective State Government/UT Administration implements a number of legislation, including the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980, the Indian Forest Act, of 1927, the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, and other central/state laws as applicable to a State/UT, for the preservation and protection of forest and wildlife.
National Forest Policy, 1988
There are provisions under the National Forest Policy, 1988 to encourage a need-based and time-bound program of afforestation and tree planting through afforestation, social forestry & farm forestry with the involvement of local communities.
The Policy encourages the planting of trees alongside roads, railway lines, rivers and streams, and canals, and on other unutilized lands under State/corporate, institutional, or private ownership including the creation of green belts in urban/industrial areas as well as in arid tracts.
Social Forestry Schemes
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change encourages plantation in the country including various metropolitan cities through programs and schemes such as:
- Nagar Van Yojana
- School Nursery Yojana
- Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA)
- National Afforestation Programme (NAP)
- National Mission for a Green India (GIM)
The purpose of the schemes is to promote urban forestry, tree plantation on vacant lands and bunds on farmlands, etc. by involving local communities, NGOs, educational institutions, local bodies, etc.
Article Written By: Priti Raj