Joint Forest Management
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Programme of Government of India goes back to early Nineties when DSC's Chairman Mr. Anil C. Shah, the then Chief Executive of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India) went to the Central Government to obtain permission to develop and protect forest land through forest communities for their benefit. After persistent efforts for three years, for persuading Government to allow forest communities to take part in the management of their forest land, Government of India issued circular on 1st June, 1990 favoring the plea made by Mr. Shah. The Circular welcomed the participation of forest communities and NGOs in protecting and developing forest lands. Considered a land mark in the forest policy of India, Joint Forest Management circular ushered a fundamental change in the way forests are managed in India. Following the circular, a JFM scheme was announced which led to the formation of 63000 local Forest Protection Committees (FPCs), protecting about 14 million hectares of forest land, almost 20% of the country's forests cover.
- DSC is active member of the State Level Working Group on Joint Forest Management and, through it, plays a leading role in promotion of Joint Forest Management (JFM) in Gujarat.
- DSC's Chairman Mr. Anil C. Shah was member of a group appointed by Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India to prepare a draft plan for JFM in the 10th Five Year Plan of the country.
- DSC's Chairman is also a member of the governing council of VIKSAT, a leading NGO of Gujarat who is assigned the role of a nodal agency for JFM. Through this channel, representations are being made for the improvement of Joint Forest Management (JFM) in Gujarat.
- DSC carried out two important studies on the functional aspect of Joint Forest Management (JFM) which has wider implications for improving the scheme of JFM.
- Some of the villages where DSC is working for the implementation of Watershed Programme also have forest land within its periphery. At such places, DSC is working for the management of forest land under JFM scheme.
- With considerable effort on the part of the DSC, Government of India issued an order, pertains to the inclusion of forest land in the treatment of watershed area. Subsequently, similar order was obtained from the Forest Department of Government of Gujarat in March 1998.
Five years later, DSC also studied as to how these important orders were being implemented on the field. The study, Policy Change that did not Work threw light on important issues of Joint Forest Management (JFM). Later on the issues thrown up by this study were also elaborated by Mr. Anil Shah in the preface of the DSC's publication Frontiers of Policy Influencing. In his writing, Mr. Shah emphasis the need for follow up on the implementation of good orders which is obtained after laborious process of policy influencing.