On Social Forestry
THIS NOTE examines the consequences of the social forestry programme which is currently the key component of the official strategy for rebuilding forest resources and meeting the minimum needs of the vast population. Rs 700 crores have been allotted in the Sixth Plan to social forestry programmes. Social forestry projects are proposed to be implemented in 100 selected districts all over the country, to raise fuelwood plantations over 0.26 million hectares and to distribute about 580 million seedlings. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the World Bank, the USAID, the governments of Sweden and Canada are in the forefront in supporting social forestry projects in India. In the states of Gujarat, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Utter Pradesh. World Bank projects are already under way. India has sought foreign financial assistance worth Rs 4,918 million for undertaking social forestry projects in 12 states. The World Bank lias already granted Rs 372 millions for social forestry projects for Utter Pardesh, Rs 608 million for Gujarat and Rs 348 million for West Bengal. The USAID had granted Rs 400 million to Madhya Pradesh and the agency is now appraising a Rs 430 million social forestry project in Maharashtra for assistance. The Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) has agreed to give Rs. 450 millions to Tamil Nadu. It is now considering proposals for rupee assistance to a Rs 225 million project in Orissa. Two other projects, of Rs 555 million for Karnataka and Rs 400 million for Bihar, are also under consideration of SIDA.
Tree growing is a long-term process. Trees must be cared for during the first four to ten years. After that, they may require less attention. Against this background, the National Commission on Agriculture recommended a new forest development strategy in 1976. It suggested "the widespread adoption of the practice of social forestry aimed at growing the future fuelwood, fodder and small timber needs of rural communities55. Social forestry, as a concept, promises to remove a serious impediment to careful maintenance of the planted trees in the initial years necessary for tree survival, by providing for the regeneration of tree wealth within human settlements and by linking the programme with satisfying the local communities' basic