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Joint Forest Management


Joint Forest Management often abbreviated as JFM is the official and popular term in India
for partnerships in forest management involving both the state forest departments and local
communities. The policies and objectives of Joint Forest Management are detailed in the
Indian comprehensive National Forest Policy of 1988 [1] and the Joint Forest Management
Guidelines of 1990 of the Government of India[2].
Although schemes vary from state to state and are known by different names in different
Indian languages, usually a village committee known as the Forest Protection Committee
(FPC) and the Forest Department enter into a JFM agreement. Villagers agree to assist in the
safeguarding of forest resources through protection from fire, grazing, and illegal harvesting
in exchange for which they receive non-timber forest products and a share of the revenue
from the sale of timber products.[3].
Origins

Joint Forest Management originated in West Bengal accidentally at the Arabari


Forest Range in West Midnapore, near Midnapore town in 1971. The major
hardwood of Arabari is sal, a commercially profitable forest crop. Ajit K. Banerjee,
a silviculturalist, working for the Forest Department as the Divisional Forest
Officer, was conducting trials which were constantly being disturbed by grazing
and illegal harvesting by the local populace. At the time there were no initiatives
for sharing of forest resources between the government and the locals, with the
government considering many of the locals no more than "thieves".[4] The forest
official, against the suggestions of his co-workers, sought out representatives of
eleven local villages and negotiated the terms of a contract with an ad hoc Forest
Protection Committee. The initial program involved 612 families managing 12.7
square kilometres of forests classified as "degraded". 25% of profits from the
forests were shared with the villagers. The experiment was successful and was
expanded to other parts of the state in 1987. JFM is still in force at Arabari. [1]

A few years later, Joint Forest Management was employed in the state of
Haryana to prevent soil erosion and deforestation. In 1977, villagers were
persuaded that instead of grazing on erosion-prone hills, building small dams
would help agricultural output on areas currently under cultivation. The program
led to reforestation of many hills in the state.[5]

[edit] Current status

After the initial successes in West Bengal and Haryana, the JFM schemes received
national importance in the legislation of 1988 and thrust in the Guidelines of
1990. As of 2005, 27 states of the Indian Union had various JFM schemes with
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over 63,000 FPCs involved in the joint management of over 140,000 km² of
forested land.[6]

Nepal has also developed a system of community forest management on the


lines of JFM.[7]