Forest Cooperatives in India are a Model for Community Forestry


Forest in India provide a tremendous
diversity of benefits to society, ranging
from local subsistence uses like fodder and
firewood, regional services like water cycle
regulation, and global contributions in
terms of endemic biodiversity and carbon
sequestration. Given this diversity, it is no
surprise that Indian forests are managed
under an equally bewildering diversity of
systems. Some of these can be traced
back hundreds of years (sacred forests),
while others owe their origins to recent
interventions. The patchwork patterns
of forest management evident in India
today can be attributed to a combination
of factors operating over the 19th and
20th centuries, as well as to an evolving
set of objectives of forest management.
Commercial timber production and
biodiversity conservation have been the
two most important policy objectives,
and consequently, forest management
has remained concentrated in provincial
and federal agencies until recently. In
spite of the heavy and direct subsistence
dependence of millions of people on nearby
forests across India, larger economic and
ecological considerations have dominated
forest management systems.