Strengthening Participatory Forest Management in India (SPFMI) Updates

Sixth SPFMI Inception Workshop in Odisha

On Friday, 27th February, 2015, Enviro Legal Defence Firm (ELDF) conducted the sixth state level inception workshop for Odisha for its pan India ‘Strengthening of Participatory Forest Management in India’ (SPFMI) project at Hotel Presidency, Bhubaneswar, Odisha. 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 in its phase I, ELDF team is diligently working to involve every relevant stakeholder, from the forest department, civil society as well as communities in this project from each state. This workshop was specifically for Odisha.

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. 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 goals of SPFMI project and the current 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 that culminated into 21 crucial questions to be addressed by the participants.Thus, providing a platform to the state-specific stakeholders and experts for sharing their concerns and field experiences to help revise the current participatory model of forest management in the state.

The workshop witnessed participation from key senior most officials from the state forest department, NGOs, subject matter experts, academicians and community representatives from Odisha among others. The inaugral address for the workshop was given by Shri. J.D. Sharma, PCCF and Head of Forest Forces. Other honorary speakers from the State included Mr. Shivsaran Srivastava, PCCF (Wildlife), Shri M. Satyanarayana, APCCF, Project Community & Agro Forestry and Mr. H.S. Upadhyay, State Mission Director, Odisha Bamboo Development Agency .

Mr. Joeseph Madiath, Founder of Gram Vikas, Mr. Y. Giri Rao, Secretary cum Director Vasundhara, Mr. Bijay Panda, Head-Adivasi Mukti Sansthan, Mr. Ghasiram Panda, Program Manager, Action Aid, Mr. Sibabrata Choudhry, State Director, Landesa, Mr. Sukanta Kumar Mohanty, Executive Secretary SANKALPA, Mr. Pravat Kumar Misra, Progam Manager – Sustainable Forest Management, RCDC, Mr. Bibekanank Pattnaik, SPARDA, Mr. Manohar Chauhan, Member, Campaign for Survival and dignity among others represented the various perspectives and voices that impact PFM in Odisha.

Academic perspective on the subject was captured by Dr. Srikrishna Deva Rao, Vice Chancellor, National Law University, Odisha, Mr. Abhay Kumar, Assistant Professor of Law (Environmental law) and Dr. Radhamohan Mallik, Professor, Nabakrushna Choudhry Centre for Development Studies.

The workshop witnessed constructive debates on the role of the Forest Department and communities in forest management. The key messages derived from this workshop were that there is a shift in the forest governance paradigm and there is a need for strengthening Participatory Forest Management by providing an enabling environment for the forest dwellers, strict adherence to FRA, self regulatory mechanisms built for managing forests, strong market linkages among others. The deliberations also focused on the need for JFM to continue as a programme or not in light of the legal regime of FRA.

The ELDF Team had fruitful dialogues with all stakeholders who offered their unconditional support to ELDF, in order successfully to implement Participatory Forest Management in the state of Odisha, during the course of this project, as well as beyond it.

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