Joint Forest Management often abbreviatedas JFM is the official and popular term in India forpartnerships in forest management involving boththe state forest departments and local communities.The policies and objectives of Joint ForestManagement are detailed in the Indiancomprehensive National Forest Policy of 1988 andthe Joint Forest Management Guidelines of 1990 ofthe Government of India.
Although schemes vary from state to state andare known by different names indifferent Indian languages, usually a villagecommittee known as the Forest ProtectionCommittee (FPC) and the Forest Departmententer into a JFM agreement. Villagers agree toassist in the safeguarding of forest resourcesthrough protection from fire, grazing, andillegal harvesting in exchange for which theyreceive non-timber forest products and ashare of the revenue from the saleof timber products.
Joint Forest Management originated in West Bengalaccidentally at the Arbari Forest Range in WestMidnapore, near Midnapore town in 1971. The majorhardwood of Arabari is Sal, a commercially profitableforest crop. Ajit Kumar Banerjee, a silviculturalist,working for the Forest Department as the DivisionalForest Officer, was conducting trials which wereconstantly being disturbed by grazing and illegalharvesting by the local populace. At the time therewere no initiatives for sharing of forest resourcesbetween the government and the locals, with thegovernment considering many of the locals no morethan "thieves".
The forest official, against the suggestions of his co-workers,sought out representatives of eleven local villages andnegotiated the terms of a contract with an ad hoc ForestProtection Committee. The initial program involved 612 familiesmanaging 12.7 square kilometers of forests classified as"degraded". 25% of profits from the forests were shared withthe villagers. The experiment was successful and was expandedto other parts of the state in 1987. JFM is still in force at Arabari.A few years later, Joint Forest Management was employed in thestate of Haryana to prevent soil erosion and deforestation. In1977, villagers were persuaded that instead of grazing onerosion-prone hills, building small dams would help agriculturaloutput on areas currently under cultivation. The program led toreforestation of many hills in the state.
• ANDHRA PRADESH• A total of 6575 interphases villages, covering an area of 16.32 lakh have been identified in the State where JFM can be taken up.• Vana Samarakshana Samities (VSSs) have been formed in all these 6575 villages.• About 5 lakh hectares of the JFM area has been so far scientifically treated for improving its productivity.• Out of 6575 VSS formed, 2667 VSSs are under the AP forestry Project (APFP) funded by the World Bank. The remaining VSSs have been formed outside AP forestry project and are managed with funds from EAS, CSS, AP Hazard Mitigation Project, etc.
• The Forest Department has appointed 60 women community volunteers in various forest divisions to take care of the Gender and Equity issues in JFM programs.• There are more than 200 NGOs associated at grass root level with the implementation of JFM program. District level NGO networks for JFM have been set up in 12 districts.• More than 13 lakh people are involved in the joint management of forests in the State.
• Bihar, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have adopted JFM in many districts.
KERALAThe Government of Kerala has issued JFM orders on 16.1.98. It is envisaged that duringthe first year the thrust of the programme will be on exploring the potential of developingJoint Forest Management within different socio-economic and forestry contexts. Duringthis period six sites will be selected and studied on a pilot basis. Appropriate models toaddress forest management problems in State will be developed and reviewed after twoyears.The recent reports (Ministry of Environment and Forests) State that 7 VFCs (6 VFCs andone tribal society) have been formed and are protecting 2000 ha of forest.MADHYA PRADESHIn Madhya Pradesh a total of 4376 VFCs and 3932 FPCs are engaged in protecting 3.5million hectares of forest land.It is planned to integrate watershed development work along with JFM under RajivGandhi Catchment Area Development Programme, which is implemented by the RuralDevelopment Department of M.P.MAHARASHTRAIn Maharashtra, subsequent to the issue of JFM orders in 1992, JFM was taken up intwenty sites of two circles (Thane and Dhule). During 1996-97 the World Bank aidedMaharashtra Forestry Project was initiated and JFM was implemented at sixty sites. It isproposed to cover another 110 villages in the forthcoming year.
NAGALANDIn Nagaland 88 per cent of the forest land is under private ownership. These lands are subject toconstant pressure of deforestation (owing to Jhumming etc.) In a bid to halt this process theGovernment of Nagaland has issued formal JFM orders recently. This therefore brings ina measure offormal commitment both from the Forest Department and the participating land owning communityto protect the forests of Nagaland.TAMILNADUThe JFM order was issued in Tamil Nadu on 8th August, 1997. The programme is proposed to beimplemented in the watershed mode.Under this programme, the FD proposes to take up watershed interventions with a budget of Rs. 500crores. Two hundred Village Forest Councils will be formed per year. These VFCs will be formed peryear. These VFCs will protect and regenerate approximately 3,50,000 ha of degraded forest area.Tamil Nadu Inter-Phase Forestry Programme (JFM is reserved forests) was the precursor of the 8thAugust, 97 order. Under the SIDA aided programme eight interphase forestry divisions (with 40ranges) and 17 interphase forestry ranges in 10 social forestry divisons were formed in 1988.RAJASTHANIn Rajasthan 1640 Village Forest Committee are involved in regeneration of 24400 ha of forest land.Most of the Committees (1025 in number) have been set up under Aravalli Afforestation Projectfunded by OECF, Japan.The remaining 614 Village Forest Protection and Management Committees have been formed underForestry Development Project (OECF, Japan) and they are regenerating 24,333 ha of land.
ORISSAIn Orissa a total number of 2373 formal Van SamrakshanSamiti (VSS) have been formed and these committees areprotecting about 2.96 lakh ha of degraded forests ( this isabout 25% of the total degraded forests in the State).Further, it is also estimated that around 5000 self-initiated Forest Protection Groups (SIFPGs) are alsoplaying a significant role in protecting and regeneratingforests adjoining their habitation. Moreover, it isestimated that about 78000 ha of village woodlotplantation raised under the social forestry project is beingmanaged by 5600 VFCs formed by the Social ForestryDivision. One hundred and thirty-seven microplans havebeen finalised for implementing the programme.
Subsequent to the Government resolution (amendment) in September1996 to provide tenurial rights to the village community by declaringforests within their boundary as village forests, the State level steeringcommittee set up a working group under the PCCF, to prepareguidelines for implenenting the Government Orders. The followingsuggestions were made by the group.All the forests within the village boundary shall be taken for thepurpose of JFM, and for the time being reserved forest will be kept outof the purview of JFM.To begin with 5 villages shall be taken in each division on a pilot basis.Forest land within the village boundary shall be demarcated by theNGOs with the assistance of forest and revenue officials (Rs. 1000/-per village shall be earmarked for NGOs for survey and demarcation offorest within village boundary).These surveyed areas shall be declared as village forests and draftnotification shall be submitted by the concerned DFO to theappropriate authority by March 98.Thereafter micro plans will be made for the programme.
National Resolution on JFM, 1990The 1990 guidelines have paved the way for JFM across the countryand 22 states have issued enabling orders till date. The majorprovisions of the National Resolution are: • Providing an enabling mechanism for participation of local communities and a platform for NGO participation, • Facilitating institution building and allowed flexibility in their formation, • Eliminating the involvement of commercial interests and the middlemen in the benefit sharing mechanism, • Providing forest usufruct benefits to participating communities, • Providing for wage employment to local communities for some forest related work, • Allowing for plantation of indigenous, multi-purpose species of trees and even grasses, shrubs and medicinal herbs, • Ensuring that the FD only harvests in accordance with a working scheme prepared in consultation with local communities.
The current study has revealed the existence of a vastdiversity across the JFM states in terms of the social,cultural and economic contexts, the forest type andstatus, forest produce being accessed by people, etc.Different State Governments have issued orders andmodified the same progressively to incorporatevariations and major concerns that have arisen duringthe course of JFM implementation in their respectivestates.States have also issued working rules for JFM to furtherinstitutionalise the programme in the working of therespective State Forest Departments.
Some aspects that have not been provided for by the Nationalguidelines but have been incorporated by various State Governmentsin their order and/or working rules are: • Criteria of success, monitoring procedures and baseline surveys, • Defining the working scheme to be a working plan or a micro plan or both depending upon the scale of planning, • On the creation, management and use of village funds, • Grazing control mechanism, • Membership norms to encourage involvement of representatives of different hamlets, villages, landless laborers, village artisans, members of forest-based craft making communities, scheduled castes and tribes, etc. in the General body and Management Committee of the VFCs, • The need for expanding the scope of JFM to include aspects of watershed development and holistic development that are now almost integral to JFM, • Forum for conflict resolution/dispute arbitration, • Financial provisions/arrangements for JFM program, • Registration of committees in some States providing them with several benefits in terms of legal sanctity and empowerment.
The above reveals that the National Guidelines on JFM werebroad and hence provided individual States the flexibility to issueenabling orders to incorporate local concerns, in consonancewith the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 andNational Forest Policy, 1988. Individual State Governments haveexhibited great insight, innovation and maturity in issuingenabling orders and working rules.It is to be appreciated that JFM is a dynamic process and duringthe course of its evolution, a number of issues and suggestionswould be emerging. In light of this, the National Guidelineswould not be able to assimilate these diverse issues from acrossthe country. At the same time it would not be practical to revisethese guidelines as and when a new regime of issues andconcerns would arise with the progress of JFM from its currentinfancy stage in many States to maturity over a period of time.
A plethora of issues have been identified by variousstudies conducted across the country by differentagencies, by the Expert Consultation Group and thecurrent National study. Various State GovernmentOrders and Working Rules have addressed a majority ofthese issues, while efforts are ongoing in other States.These innovations and adaptations have beenfacilitated by the flexible and broad-based nature ofthe National Guidelines. The amending of theseguidelines to incorporate all these issues would onlyrender the guidelines more prescriptive and binding,which the process of JFM could ill-afford.
It is therefore essential that the National Guidelines on JFM issuedin 1990 remain in their original form while State Governmentscould be encouraged and influenced by the GOI, NGOs, people�sgroups and VFC representatives into incorporating major concernsrelating to equity, equitable benefit sharing, gender sensitivity,conflict resolution, etc. into their Government Orders, WorkingRules, FD functioning and JFM implementation.As part of the National Study on JFM, an attempt was made tocompile the total number of VFCs thathave been formed across the21 JFM states that have issued enabling orders and the area that isunder JFM. Responses were received from 17 State Governmentsby the report finalisation and submission stage. Accordingly, thereare 41,249 VFCs in 17 states and a total of 11.24 million hectares offorest land is under JFM in 14 states. Of the 17 State Governmentswho responded, Karnataka, Punjab and Tripura Governments didnot furnish details of area under JFM.