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Overview
India is the seventh largest country in the world-- with a population of over 900 million. 75 percent of Indians live in rural areas, depending upon the natural resources for their livelihoods, medicine, housing materials and often, food. Forests now cover about 12 million hectares-only about 1/3 of India's once vast standing forests. Despite their decline, India's forests are home to remarkable plant and animal biodiversity. As one of the 17 "megadiversity" countries (see text box), India can boast of bamboo, Bidi leaves, Strobilanthes, Selaginella, Bombax ceiba, Sarusja tiger, Asiatic lion, rhinoceroses, and Golden Langur.

What is a "Megadiversity" country?

A "megadiversity" country is one that is home to one tenth of the total number of species in the world.

Threats to the Forests
India is faced with a number of social, economic, and ecological issues which pose an enormous challenge to sustainable natural resource management--including extreme poverty, deforestation and land degradation caused by commercial logging, cattle grazing, exploitation of non-timber forest products and uncontrolled fires, as well as a scarcity of potable drinking water and unhealthy air quality in many cities and town. All natural resources-including land, forests, water, and biodiversity--are under immense pressure. India's remaining forests include some 80 national parks and around 450 wildlife sanctuaries-home to panthers, wild boar, mongoose, Sambar, Adina cardifolia, Tectona grandis, and Euphorbia.

Potential Tools to Combat Degradation
Community management of natural resources has been an important strategy in India since it was piloted there in the 1960's. In fact, India is one of the most important models of successful joint forest management in the world. Under this system, national governments decentralize control of forests and turn it over to villagers who take over the responsibility for forest and water use and protection. Despite some problems, the system has helped the country with its land management challenges for over thirty years.

India has a strong scientific community working on energy issues as well as natural resources conservation. Continued collaboration among government, development agencies, non-profit organizations, universities, and community groups is needed to make progress towards improving the quality of life both in rural and urban areas, while protecting the forests and their unique biodiversity.

Why does the USDA Forest Service Work in India?
India is an important player in the Asian-Pacific region-as the world's largest democracy, it serves as a model for many other developing nations. Its pioneering work in community forestry has inspired others, both neighboring Nepal and the U.S., to reconsider how forest management systems succeed with genuine local control. Furthermore, the very high animal and plant biodiversity make India a high priority for managing the remaining forests sustainably, since they are home to these unique species.

Overview of the United States-India Collaboration
Over the past 40 years, the USDA Forest Service has been involved with numerous research, training and management projects in India. Currently, Agency personnel are working with staff from the Wildlife Institute of India and the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy to develop international workshops on the theme of integrated forest planning and management for conservation of biological diversity in India. These groups are also working together in four study sites in India--Satpura National Park (M.P.), Anamalai Wildlife Sanctuary (T.N.), Dudwa National Park (U.P.), Balphakrarn National Park & adjoining Siju Wildlife Sanctuary and Notrek National Park (Meghalaya)--to identify diverse species, communities, and habitats and evaluate the impacts of forestry practices and use on forest diversity.


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Sustainable Forestry Practices

Management of Forests in India for Biological Diversity and Forest Productivity

Introduction
The Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehra Dun has initiated preliminary studies on the influence of forestry operations and the human use of forest based resources on biological diversity. It is a project in partnership with the Staff and Line officers of the USDA Forest Service under the Institute's technical collaboration with the US Fish & Wildlife Service. The focus of the studies was on the entire landscape of a selected. tract in the Satpura hill ranges in central India extending over approximately 7000 sq. km. This landscape has five protected areas enclaved in managed forests. The developing concepts and tools are being documented in the form of a field guide which subsequently is expected to serve field managers in maintaining biological diversity. The utility is expected to extend to forest and wildlife managers outside the project sites in shape of an example for approaching the principal goal of conserving biological diversity in forests as per the mandate of India's national forest policy of 1988. The task is by no means complete. It would further need wider fora for exchange of ideas and experience sharing to help in giving a final shape to the field guide as well as to establish field demonstration sites. The Institute has also commissioned an additional project on its own to complement the collaborative efforts in the Satpuras to collect specific information on land-use, the dependency of people on resources in order to provide better analytical capabilities.

In addition to the above it is proposed to develop case studies for some other areas identified in different biogeographic regions of India on the lines of the investigations in the Satpuras.

The study sites selected include two in the eastern moist and dry forests (Simlipal and Palamau respectively) and selected sites in an island situation of Andamans with unique species composition and land-use. The project will initiate evaluation of forestry practices and the activities of forest resources dependent human populations vis-a-vis biodiversity conservation requirements. The research objective will be to generate information to help formulating management recommendations. The personnel of the USDA Forest Service will be required to interact with the Wildlife Institute of India and Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy faculty, identified researchers and field managers in the concerned field study locations in India and a travelling workshop will be conducted at selected sites in the United States where demonstration of this approach is possible. The long standing expertise and experience of the USDA Forest Service in biodiversity conservation, coupled with the Indian expertise and experience in our situation is expected to help develop appropriate adaptations of techniques and technology suitable to the Indian situation.

The project provides for establishment of a fully equipped field station on each of the three project locations, appointment of two Research Associates, three research fellows and three field assistants. Modern statistical techniques will be used to analyze data and develop management prescriptions. The workshops planned will ensure experience sharing and dissemination of knowledge. Two field guides will emerge out of the project investigations. One on Satpuras will be completed in the second year and the second on the remaining three sites by the end of the fifth year. The project envisages participation of three officials of the USDA Forest Service; to work along with field managers on the project locations, researchers and identified Faculty of Wildlife Institute of India and Indira Ghandi National Forest Academy. The project provides adequate interaction between the participants through exchange visas and opportunities for joint working.

The project is first of its kind to be initiated in India with the exception of investigations being carried out in the Satpura hills. Between the three identified sites the project will address diverse species, communities, habitats and will evaluate the impacts of forestry practices and use of forest produce by people, the methods of harvests and collection on forest diversity. The relationships of forest products with the economy and lifestyles' of locally resident people and larger markets would be ascertained. An important facet will be to establish the overall relationships between land-use practices, forest diversity, productivity and functions of forest systems. The conservation problems will be documented. Modern conservation concepts will be used to develop tools to shape ecologically sustainable and economically viable land-use practices. This will include use of modern technology, development of alternate resource use potentials and practices, development of the known but dormant or less used inherent, skills. The outcome of surveys, investigations and research will be documented in form of a field guide which will provide pathways to conserve forest diversity, usher in ecological prosperity for greater economic benefit.

Objectives
(i) To assess, document and map as appropriate the kinds, the extent and distribution of plant and animal diversity in selected forest sites through  rapid survey methods.

(ii) Use the existing status and habitat relationship information to set up base line information.

(iii) On a stand level to landscape level perspectives, evaluate the impact of the existing variety of forestry practices, use of forest based resources by local people including the methods of harvests and collection, fires, operation of varied concessions and rights on micro habitat elements, key habitats, species, communities, the overall forest productivity and diversity.

(iv) To rapidly assess the local village systems in terms of varied land-use forest resource dependency including raising and grazing of domestic livestock, other vocations, skills, economy and markets. These will be seen in relationship to forest systems. Threats to ecological harmony and economical status of people will be documented.

(v) To use modem ecological concepts in developing practical management tools and practices for bringing about harmony within and between forest and village systems through sustainable land-use practices which make ecological and economic sense. Document problems and threat mitigation prescriptions and develop a field guide to management. Complete also the Satpura Hills field guide.

(vi) Conduct workshops and seminars to share experience and disseminate knowledge

Study Sites
(i) Satpura National Park (M.P.)
(ii) Anamalai Wildlife Sanctuary (T.N.)
(iii) Dudwa National Park (U.P.)
(iv) Balphakrarn National Park & adjoining Siju WL Sanctuary and Notrek National Park (Meghalaya)

Methodology
Established field techniques and methods used for rapid surveys will be used and this refers to both the ecological and socioeconomic aspects. If limited research investigations will be deemed necessary then according to the objectives the appropriate methodology will be used.

(i) Provide for conducting an International Workshops on the theme Integrated forest planning and management for conservation of biological diversity' in India. The occasion will also serve as a planning workshop to decide on a detailed work plan. methodology & other concerns for the project.

(ii) Visit by a team. of 12 selected forest and wildlife managers, line and staff, to appropriate demonstration and study sites in the United States. The team will consist of field managers from the four field sites, Faculty members from the Institute and the Academy. This visit is designed to be a travelling workshop to expose the team to the concepts, tools, technology and practices for conserving forest diversity. It is an essential complement to the field effort in India.

(iii) A visit by an USDA Forest Service officer to Satpura hills area in the first year (5 weeks) to set up field demonstration sites preparatory to the international workshop in India and to plan the workshop format and inputs.

(iv) A visit by an USDA Forest Service officer to Wildlife Institute of India in second year (5 weeks) to work with the Institute's Faculty to complete the field guide to Satpura hills in its final shape.

(v) Visit of three identified USDA Forest Service officers to the selected sites in India. Each to have two trips. Each trip will last for 6 weeks. These visits will be spread over the project period and are designed to cover the joint work involved in conducting field surveys, documentation and analysis of data, data presentation, evaluation and development of concepts, tools and prescriptions. The field guide will be developed, reviewed and finalized.

(vi) Two national level seminars will be conducted at appropriate periods- to share the emerging information from the field investigations with wildlife and forest managers, administrators and decision makers in India. Each seminar will coincide with the visit of at least one visiting USDA Forest Service official.

(vii) Field surveys, information documentation, analysis, and the essential limited research will continue during the entire project period through appointed researchers and participating Faculty of Wildlife Institute of India and the Academy.

(viii) There would be in all five international trips undertaken by project coordinators to ensure effective steerage of the project. There will be one trip each year. The project coordinator from India will undertake two trips to the U.S. while the coordinator from the US will make 3 trips to India to meet the counterpart and sort out the essential coordination matters on administration and progress.

(ix) There would be two Evaluations. One a mid term and one at the culmination of the project as per the constitution 'of teams and terms of reference as may be decided.

(x) The field guide to Satpura hills will be completed by the end of the second year and that on the other field locations towards the end of the project period.

The Role of the USDA Forest Service
i) To provide coordination for activities in the US.

ii) To arrange funding out of US Indian Rupee fund for expenses in India.

iii) To arrange dollar funds for activities in US.

iv) To identify and contract US Scientists, in consultation with the WII to work on the identified research and development activities.

v) To procure, and make available to Institute's equipment and consumables required to be purchased in US for the implementation of the project.

vi) Any other responsibilities for the smooth performance of the project.

The Role of the Wildlife Institute of India
i) To provide coordination for activities in India.

ii) To organize and provide administrative support for the project in WII campus, Dehra Dun and to hire personnel for serving the project.

iii) To identify necessary WII faculty to work on various sub-projects and allocate faculty time for the same.

iv) To identify and contract researchers and support staff and to conduct research as provided in the project document through WII Faculty and researchers.

v) To procure equipment and consumables out of the project funds in India.

vi) Any other action required for the smooth performance of the project.


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