Strengthening Participatory Forest Management in India (SPFMI) Updates

On Tuesday, 13th January, 2015, Enviro Legal Defence Firm (ELDF) conducted the third inception workshop

On Tuesday, 13th January, 2015, Enviro Legal Defence Firm (ELDF) conducted the third inception workshop for its pan India ‘Strengthening of Participatory Forest Management in India’ (SPFMI) project in Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. 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 study 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. After 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, all state and national-level stakeholders are being engaged through series of inception workshops in its Phase II. So far workshops have been conducted in the State of Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh. 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 critical law and policy findings on Madhya Pradesh PFM context. This culminated into 21 crucial questions which were raised before the participants to seek their comments. The event provided a platform to the state stakeholders for sharing their concerns and field experiences to make PFM model successful in Madhya Pradesh.

The workshop witnessed a good turn out and participation from the key government departments and 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 Madhya Pradesh among others. Some of the honorable speakers included Shri. Anil Oberoi, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of Forest Forces, Shri. Ravindra Nath Saxena, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Managing Director, M.P. Forest Corporation Ltd., , Dr. A. K. Singh, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (JFM), Smt. Gopa Pandey, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (HRD) and other officials from Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, as well as academicians and experts from IIFM. Shri. Pravir Krishn, Principal Secretary, AYUSH, Health and Gas Relief, Government of Madhya Pradesh attended the workshop and shared his valuable insights and support for the building of a legal framework for PFM for community-forest welfare. The key message derived from this workshop is the need for strengthening Participatory Forest Management programme as an institution and the law of the land 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 experts unanimously agreed that India must now shift beyond the implementation of pilot projects approach to making PFM part of legal mandate.

The ELDF Team also had fruitful dialogues with the Former Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Shri. Brij Mohan Singh Rathore, who is the PFM subject matter expert from Madhya Pradesh, offered his unconditional support to ELDF for our forth coming field visits to Harda, Siddhi and, Umaria in order to successfully implement Participatory Forest Management in the state of Madhya Pradesh, during the course of this project, as well as beyond it.

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