GOVERNMENT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
Forest Department-Policy for Forest Development in Andhra Pradesh-Approved-Orders-Issued.
ENVIRONMENT FORESTS SCIENCE& TECHNOLOGY(FOR.III)DEPARTMENT
G.O.Ms.No. 34 .
Read the following:-
1. G.O.Ms.No.237, EFS&T(For.II) Deptt., dt.26.11.1993
2. From Prl.CCF., Rc.No.30931/2001/PMU.III/2, dt.2.1.2002 and
O R D E R:-
Government has been implementing various programmes and schemes relating to forest development in accordance with the National Forest Policy. In the G.O. read above, Policy for forest development in the State has been stated out. With new experiences gained in the subsequent years it is felt that there is a need to review this Policy to tune it with the current times. The Prl.Chief Conservator of Forests has accordingly therefore submitted proposals for revision of the policy issued in the Government order read above. Among other things, the Prl.Chief Conservator of Forests has requested for issue of orders for implementing Community Forest Management as an advancement over Joint Forest Management in terms of greater decentralization and democratization of people’s participation in forest management and associated Policy changes.
2. After considering various aspects of Forestry Management in the State of Andhra Pradesh and also the National Forest Policy, the Government approve the “Andhra Pradesh State Forest Policy 2002” as detailed in Annexure to this order.
3. The Prl.Chief Conservator of Forests, Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad is requested to take further action accordingly.
(BY ORDER AND IN THE NAME OF THE GOVERNOR OF ANDHRA PRADESH)
PRINCIPAL SECRETARY TO GOVERNMENT
The Prl.Chief Conservator of Forests,AP, Hyd.
The Vice-Chairman & Managing Director,
A.P.Forest Development Corporation Ltd., Hyd.
// FORWARDED :: BY ORDER //
1.1: The National Forest Policy of 1988 of the Government of India lays down the guiding principles for Forest Management in India. In consonance with this National Forest Policy, the Government of Andhra Pradesh issued a State Forest Policy in 1993 vide G.O.Ms.No.237 EFS&T (For.II) Department, Dated 26.11.1993. This forest policy of the State of Andhra Pradesh, while identifying the immediate concerns of the forestry sector in the State, laid down broad guidelines for future management perspectives by encouraging participation of local village communities in forest management through Joint Forest Management by organizing them into Vana Samrakshana Samithies. The experience of involving local villagers in protection and management of forests has had salutary effects and there is appreciable improvement in the quality of forests managed through Joint Forest Management. The initiative has, however, brought in a new angle of sustainability of forest management through people’s participation into lime light. Balancing the sustainable management of forest resources with economic, social and environmental factors has emerged as a key challenge that needs immediate attention. This has necessitated a review of the present policy of the State of Andhra Pradesh on matters relating to Forest Development. Learning from the experience, the Government of Andhra Pradesh intends to consolidate the initiatives taken in the area of Joint Forest Management and evolve the system further into Community Forest Management.
2. The Vision:
2.1: The National Forestry Action Plan envisages the following approaches for holistic development of forests:
1. Protect the existing forest resources.
2. Improve forest productivity.
3. Reduce total demand for forest products.
4. Strengthen policy and institutional framework
5. Expand forest area.
2.2: All planning in forestry sector in India is required to follow these cardinal principles. Forest Policy of Andhra Pradesh needs to be tailored to incorporate the above framework. The Government of Andhra Pradesh has issued a Vision statement titled ‘Vision 2020’ which also incorporates the vision envisaged for the forestry sector. The focal theme of the vision on State Forestry Sector is ‘sustainable management of forest resources through participatory approach’, with emphasis on the protection and regeneration of forests and forestland to ensure a green and healthy Andhra Pradesh for the future generations. Managing forest resources effectively is a critical component of protecting the environment since the degradation of forests gives rise to serious problems such as floods, famine and drought. For achieving this goal, and enhancing the long-term sustained development of the State, the following core areas are identified:
Ø Conserving and improving the quality of existing forests;
Ø Strengthening Social Forestry Activities;
Ø Streamlining forest management strategies;
Ø Encouraging People’s Participation in Forest Management;
Ø Conserving biodiversity and genetic resources;
2.3: The strategies evolved are in tune with the National Forestry Action Plan and vision of state of A.P. They specifically address the various focused areas of forestry and provide direction for future planning and development.
3. The Strategies:
To realize the above Vision, the following strategies will be adopted.
3.1. Conserving and improving the existing Forests:
3.1.1. Forest Felling:
With high demand for timber and other forest products, forests are prone to illicit felling and smuggling. The problem is acute since forests are open treasure houses. Protection of the existing forests is a matter of primary concern around which all the other activities will be woven. Protection of forests will be ensured through regular patrolling and policing and strict vigil in the vulnerable forest areas and meticulous implementation of the penal provisions of various forest laws and rules. Training in law enforcement aspects will be taken up to upgrade the capacity of the law enforcing staff of the Forest Department. There also is urgent need to tap alternate energy sources to ease pressure on forests. Solar energy devises will be encouraged. In areas beset with vast herds of cattle, especially in rural areas, biogas plants will be popularized. The State Government has taken the initiative of supplying LP Gas connections to all Self Help Groups, including Vana Samrakshana Samithies through its Deepam Scheme. These needs, will be extended further to other eligible persons. Wherever use of wood is inevitable, improved chulhas will be popularized. Such chulhas would not only reduce use of wood, but also reduce harmful smoke which affects the health of women and children at home.
The present policy of free grazing in the forests is detrimental to regeneration and establishment of vegetation. There is need for reasonable restrictions on grazing. Further, the burden of scrub cattle on the already scarce fodder resources need to be reduced by upgrading the cattle stock, and encouraging stall- feeding. Scientific study of the availability of fodder, both inside and outside forests and plans for sustained usage without threatening the very survival of the species, needs to be taken up. Augmenting the fodder resources through natural as well as artificial regeneration should be taken up. All these will receive attention. There will be coordinated efforts with the Animal Husbandry Department of the Government of Andhra Pradesh to (i) improve quality of livestock in forest fringe areas so that number of cattle heads will be reduced and (ii) to augment fodder resources both inside and outside the designated forests to cater to growing demand for fodder. Scientific research will be undertaken to assess the carrying capacity of the fringe forest areas. A separate policy statement to address the above will be issued after deliberating with stakeholders.
3.1.3. Forest Fires:
Forest fires have been the scourge forests especially the young regeneration. Their frequency and extent of damage caused are a matter of great concern. They affect the quality and composition of our future forests. Wanton kindling of forests for encouraging new flush of grasses, and for clearing the forest floor for cultivation, etc. are rampant in forest areas. Traditional and time tested fire protection measures like fire tracing, engaging of fire watchers, during the dry season will be taken up together with the maintenance of fire-lines and controlled burning in vulnerable areas as preventive measures. Special attention will be given to regeneration areas and research plots in this regard. Co-operation of all stakeholders in such efforts is very essential. Therefore, large-scale awareness by publicity/propaganda will be taken up during the fire prone season. The fire protection may be entrusted to the local Vana Samrakshana Samithies members.
3.1.4. Encroachments and Podu Cultivation:
Due to excessive pressure on land, and forest boundaries not being clear in several areas, encroachment of the forests has been increasing. Therefore, clear demarcation of all the forest boundaries, is essential combined with punitive action in all such cases of encroachment.
“Podu”, the traditional shifting cultivation by Tribals, is transforming into settled cultivation. This is creating pockets of clearances which will expand in area in time. Such type of cultivation is resulting in land degradation and unsustainable agriculture leading to poverty and increasing demand for land again for further cultivation. The problem of Podu cultivation is to be viewed more as an economic problem and not just as a matter of law. It is a matter of livelihood for the people who practice it. But since its unsustainable nature is perpetuating poverty, there is an urgent need to educate the tribal farmers on sustainable farming. Therefore the tribals who resort to such type of unsustainable practices will be educated about the adverse effects and motivated to take up viable alternate land use practices on such lands, besides alternative income generating activities. Access to improved agricultural practices for these Tribals needs to be made available. This will be ensured through close coordination with the Agriculture and Tribal Welfare Departments of the Government of Andhra Pradesh.
3.1.5. Appropriate silvicultural interventions for forest improvement:
Excessive and prolonged pressure on the forests in the past have created large blank areas in the forests. . The inferior stock of vegetation wherever it occurs, needs to be improved by coppicing, singling / pruning and removal of congestion around useful regeneration. The wide gaps need to be covered up by artificial regeneration with improved planting stock or sowing with good quality seed, especially of fodder and medicinal plants. The management of natural regeneration will be practiced in forest areas rich in natural regeneration, in forests with viable rootstock of valuable species and in forests having timber potential. All these forests will be managed under the selection cum improvement system, the coppice with standards and the coppice with reserves systems with due modifications to suit site specific requirements. Forests that are devoid of any valuable species, will be planted with valuable and high yielding species like Bamboo, Teak, Eucalyptus, Acacias, Species valued for their NTFP and Medicinal properties.
3.1.6. Soil and Moisture Conservation Measures on watershed approach:
Massive Soil and Moisture Conservation activities will be taken up. Such measures will form an integral part of all treatment plans at macro as well as micro level. They will also be integrated with the general watershed development activities of other Governmental and Non Governmental agencies working in the vicinity of forests to ensure holistic development. This would help in arresting soil erosion, besides recharging of ground water in the catchment. Such steps would ensure prevention of floods, droughts in the adjacent plains, besides benefiting the vegetation and wildlife in the forest areas. Integrated development of all natural resources, including forests would rationalize inputs and maximize outputs.
3.2. Strengthening Social Forestry Activities:
3.2.1. Scope for Social Forestry:
Extending forestry activities to non-traditional areas outside notified forests will be another important strategy. It provides for generation of biomass outside the designated forests for meeting the needs of local people and reduces dependence and pressure on the forests. The activities like Farm Forestry, Afforestation of Village Common lands and Tank Foreshores, Afforestation around urban agglomerations in the form of Green Belts, Avenue plantations along Roads, Railway lines and Canal Bunds, Aesthetic plantations in urban and semi urban areas, Afforestation on Temple / Endowment lands etc. will be taken up to meet the objective.
3.3. Streamlining Forest Management Strategies:
3.3.1. Institutional capacity vis-à-vis Functions of Forest Department:
Apart from the traditional functions of Forest Protection and Development, the Department is vested with new functions like Participatory Management, contending with organized and armed smugglers, Wildlife Management, Extension work under Social Forestry, Research and Development, Training and Motivating etc. This multi dimensional role is posing a serious challenge to the Forester of the present day. The Centralized and hierarchical structure of the Department is constraining effective discharge of these functions. Vacancies in staff entrusted with protection, inadequacy of their technical knowledge, lack of adequate facilities like conveyance and communication at the lower levels, also affect the efficiency of the administrative machinery. Therefore, there is an urgent need to address these issues. More decentralization, with delegation of more administration/financial powers, administrative reforms, reorganization of forest areas, and redeployment of staff as per emerging needs, providing adequate skills, and equipment to the lower staff , etc are some of the critical areas that will be attended to.
3.3.2. Applied Research and Extension:
Scientific study on the responses of various silvicultural systems of managements and results of treatment practices is needed for standardization of treatment practices for each area. Identifying and developing high yielding varieties of multipurpose species and standardizing afforestation and management techniques for them will be attended to. Existing Research Plans will be updated not only to meet the current needs but also future demands. Besides strengthening the existing Regional Research Centres, a few more such centres will be established for accessibility to all areas of the state. Such a step would ensure transfer of technology from lab to land.
3.3.3. Addressing Financial Constraints:
The tendency of attempting too many aspects of Forestry Development with too few resources has been the bane of Forest Department. There is a need to augment the financial resources for forestry sector, by not only with more budgetary allocations, but also by reinvestment of certain portion of its income. Also, more stakeholders like the local communities, private enterprise, industrial investment needs to be identified and encouraged with suitable safeguards against diversion of forest land. Creation of revolving funds, levying user charges and recycling revenue for forest development are the areas that will be focused in this regard.
3.3.4. Monitoring and Evaluation:
Monitoring and evaluation in Forest Department has not kept pace with several advances in Forestry activities. Forest Management information systems will be streamlined to serve the emerging needs. Use of Information Technology especially in areas of Remote Sensing, Geographical Information Systems, Data base management etc. will be integrated into the system of Monitoring and Evaluation.
3.4. Encouraging People’s Participation in Forest Management:
3.4.1. Community Forest Management:
The experience of JFM in AP has been a tremendous success. There has been an overall and perceptible improvement in forestry sector in general. Learning from this experience and to refine the approach will be management of the forests through Vana Samrakshana Samithies on the lines of Community Forest Management. The approach aims at upgrading the initiatives taken in the area of Joint Forest Management (JFM) to Community Forest Management (CFM). While JFM was more a partnership between the forest dependent communities and the GOAP, CFM will be more a democratic process through delegation of the decision making process and aims at decentralizing the entire process of planning and implementation with APFD and GOAP acting more as facilitators and providers of technical and infrastructure support. Community Forest Management is an approach for forest development through a democratized participatory approach and empowering forest dependent local communities. It balances the local needs with external and environmental needs through increased productivity of the forest resources, reduced dependence on forests through substitution of demand and alternate livelihood opportunities, upgradation of living standards and above all inculcating a sense of ownership and pride among the forest dependent communities engaged in CFM.
3.4.2 Enabling Issues:
Certain legal issues like legal backing for CFM, relaxation under Forest Conservation Act for medicinal plants cultivation by Vana Samrakshana Samithies, liberalization of State Monopoly of NTFP, conformity of Panchayat laws with CFM regulations, conflict resolution among stakeholders and traditional rights, consistency of Micro-plans with working plans etc. will receive special attention to create an enabling environment for holistic and sustainable development of forests. Apart from the above, other enabling issues like poverty alleviation through skill upgradation and income generating activities, training and capacity building, empowerment of women and other vulnerable groups, NGO’s participation, etc. will also be focused substantially.
3.4.3. Inter Sectoral Co-ordination:
Most often, the schemes of Forest Department do not cater to the above aspects of community development. However, since alleviation of rural poverty is the central objective of several ongoing programs, already many departments are working on this theme concurrently. In several cases, these departments work in the same village, with the same objective, but in isolation or sometimes at cross-purposes. All such agencies and programs will be coordinated and integrated with appropriate mechanisms, for better results with efficient utilization of available resources. For this purpose, coordinating mechanisms will be developed at Village, ITDA, Forest Division, District and State levels through multidisciplinary committees. At the Village level such committee will function under the overall guidance of village Sarpanch. At all the other levels they will be headed by beurocrats of appropriate level and will compose of representatives of all concerned departments, NGOs, Vana Samrakshana Samithies and members. Separate order will be issued on their composition, duties and responsibilities.
3.5. Conserving Bio-diversity and Genetic Resources:
3.5.1. Conserving Biodiversity:
The Forests of the State are rich in bio-diversity. The Nallamala tract is worthy of special mention in this regard. Numerous species of fauna and flora are nestled and nurtured in the warmth of these forests. In the Seshachalam tract, rare and valuable species like Sandalwood, Redsanders, Shorea talura, Shorea, Tumbuggaia, Cycas Beddomei etc. are threatened, and endangered. Elsewhere, in the state, Wild animals like the Tigers, Leopards, Deer, Antelopes, Birds etc. which once roamed the forests freely, are becoming rare. Already some of the potential areas in the State have been declared as protected areas. Management plans will be developed for holistic development of these areas besides prescribing general measures for conservation of biodiversity and wildlife. In situ and Ex situ conservation will receive attention. Massive education and awareness programs will be taken up especially among school children. “Corridors” will be created connecting the network of protected areas to avoid man animal conflicts.
3.5.2. Eco-Tourism and development of nature parks:
The concept of Eco-tourism has become popular and well evolved in several parts of the world. In Andhra Pradesh too, this will be encouraged to benefit both the exchequer and the society. People, especially children, would get education by visiting such areas of Biodiversity. Eco-tourism, apart from providing education, will also provide employment to the local people living in the vicinity of the selected spots and creates awareness among the general public about nature and need for its conservation. However, such activities will be restricted to buffer zones only, to avoid disturbance to habitat. Nature parks and Green belts will be developed around urban agglomerations to build awareness among the urban dwellers of forests and associated life.
3.5.3. People’s Participation in Bio-diversity Conservation:
Local people in the villages traditionally revere plants and animals. Indian culture enjoins on its people respect for all life. The concept of Karma is ingrained in them. Making use of this customary belief, it would be easy to enlist the co-operation of local people in conserving Bio-diversity. Past efforts of Eco-development through Eco Development Committees or EDC have had encouraging results. EDCs will be strengthened further. They will be the major institutions for biodiversity conservation and eco tourism in addition to Government.
3.6. Marketing of Forest Produce:
To improve the economic status of members of the Vana Samrakshana Samithies, to make themselves sustainable and protect them from exploitation by unscrupulous traders in scheduled areas, adequate measures would be taken to facilitate value addition and efficient marketing of forest produce. The endeavour would be to provide gainful employment to all Vana Samrakshana Samithies members throughout the year. So that they became economically self-sufficient and manage the forest resources on a sustainable basis wherever necessary marketing/infrastructure will be provided by Govt. of A.P.
3.7. Revenue sharing:
Vana Samrakshana Samithies will be entitled to the forest produce obtained from the forests managed by them as follows: In case of all non timber forest produce, 100% of incremental volume of timber and bamboo harvested from the forests in accordance with the agreed micro-plan and as measured from the baseline established at the time; of the Vana Samrakshana Samithies formation will accrue to the Vana Samrakshana Samithies. In case of the compounding fee, 50% of the share of the compounding fee, where forest offence cases were detected and handed over by the Vana Samrakshana Samithies members to forest department and where forest produce seized shall not be from the Vana Samrakshana Samithies area, will accrue to the Vana Samrakshana Samithies. In case of the beedi leaf, 50% of the share of the beedi leaf net revenue arising out of the beedi leaf collected later, in the Vana Samrakshana Samithies area will accrue to the Vana Samrakshana Samithies.
PRINCIPAL SECRETARY TO GOVERNMENT