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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
is a "Megadiversity" country?
"megadiversity" country is one that
is home to one tenth of the total number of species
in the world.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Use the existing status and habitat relationship information
to set up base line information.
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.
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.
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.
Conduct workshops and seminars to share experience and
Satpura National Park (M.P.)
Anamalai Wildlife Sanctuary (T.N.)
Dudwa National Park (U.P.)
Balphakrarn National Park & adjoining Siju WL Sanctuary
and Notrek National Park (Meghalaya)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Forest Service official.
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.
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
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.
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.
To arrange funding out of US Indian Rupee fund for expenses
To arrange dollar funds for activities in US.
To identify and contract US Scientists, in consultation
with the WII to work on the identified research and
To procure, and make available to Institute's equipment
and consumables required to be purchased in US for the
implementation of the project.
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.
To identify necessary WII faculty to work on various
sub-projects and allocate faculty time for the same.
To identify and contract researchers and support staff
and to conduct research as provided in the project document
through WII Faculty and researchers.
To procure equipment and consumables out of the project
funds in India.
Any other action required for the smooth performance
of the project.
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