Strengthening Participatory Forest Management in India (SPFMI) Updates

Second State-level workshop in Kerala was well received

On Tuesday, 23rd December, 2014, Enviro Legal Defence Firm (ELDF) conducted the second inception workshop for its pan India ‘Strengthening of Participatory Forest Management in India’ (SPFMI) project in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. After the in-depth review and analysis of the legal and policy framework of participatory forest management regime in the eight study states of India, including Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, ELDF team is diligently working to involve every relevant stakeholder in this project from each state.

SPFMI is a USAID supported project which aims to strengthen legal and policy framework as well as the institutional arrangement that governs the participatory forest management in India. It is a two-year project. The ELDF team has conducted a comprehensive literature review of all the relevant laws, policies, programs, judicial pronouncements and past work of ELDF in this sector for each state during the Phase I of SPFMI. The project is in its Phase II wherein all state and national-level stakeholders would be engaged through series of inception workshops. Mr. Sanjay Upadhyay, Advocate, Supreme Court of India and Managing Partner, Enviro Legal Defence Firm facilitated the workshop and explained the purpose of the inception workshop– to inform the stakeholders about the objectives of this project, to share ELDF’s national and state-related findings from the literature review, and this culminated into 21 crucial questions to be addressed by the participants. The event provided a platform to the state stakeholders for sharing their concerns and field experiences to make participatory model of forest management successful in Kerala.

The workshop witnessed a great turn out and participation from key government officials including some of the senior most officials from the state forest department, other forest related institutions in the state, NGOs and subject matter experts from Kerala among others. Some of the honorary speakers included Shri. S. C. Joshi, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Development & PFM), Shri. K.J. Varughese, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Environment and Tribal Welfare) and other officials from Kerala Forest Department, Shri. Dr. P.S. Easa, Member, National Board of Wildlife and Shri. V. Vivekanandan, Advisor to South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies, well known domain experts as well as representatives from leading NGOs in the state such as WWF, Centre for Environment and Development, Kerala Institute of Local Administration, HELP Foundation and River Research Center, among others. The key message derived from this workshop is the need for strengthening Participatory Forest Management programme as an institution rather than merely as a concept, in order to benefit the local communities and convert them from being mere resource users to resource managers.

The ELDF Team also had fruitful dialogues with Chief Secretary of State, Shri. Bharat Bhushan and Head of Forest Forces, Shri. Dr. B. S. Corrie, who offered their unconditional support to ELDF, in order successfully implement Participatory Forest Management in the state of Kerala, during the course of this project, as well as beyond it.

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