Strengthening Participatory Forest Management in India (SPFMI) Updates

Seventh SPFMI Workshop in Jharkhand

On Wednesday, 18th March 2015, Enviro Legal Defence Firm (ELDF) conducted the seventh state level inception workshop for Jharkhand for its pan India ‘Strengthening of Participatory Forest Management in India’ (SPFMI) project at Forest Meeting Hall, Van Bhawan, Doranda, Ranchi. 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 Jharkhand.

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 Jharkhand among others. The forest department of the State was represented by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of Forest Forces, Mr. B. C. Nigam among other top officials from the department. The workshop also saw two former PCCF’s namely Mr. D.K. Srivastava and Mr. A.K. Mishra who moderated the panel discussions. Other honorary speakers from the State included Mr. C.E.H. Kazmi, PCCF (Admin); Mr. Y.K. Singh Chauhan, APCCF (Development); Mr. R.R. Hembrom, APCCF ( Extension Foretry); Mr. D.D. Sharma, APCCF (CAMPA); Mr. K.K. Chatterjee, APCCF (Working Plan); Mr. A.K. Pandey, APCCF (FDA); Mr. L.R.Singh, CCF (Research); Mr. Siddhartha Tripathy, DCF, Publicity; Mr. B.K. Prasad, Conservator of Forests and Mr. A.K. Patra, CCF-Cum-Director, Jharkhand Zoo Authority, Jharkhand.

Mr. Sudhir Pal from Manthan, provided the forest tribal interface; Mr. Arun Prakash highlighted the contribution of the media sector and its challenges; Mr. Ramraj from Institute for Advanced Studies; Ms. Aruna Tirkey from the Jharkhand Van Adhikar Manch; Mr. Virendra from Ekta Parishad; Mr. Ram Swarup from Naya Sawera Vikas Kendra; Mr. Ravindra Prasad from Hazaribagh; Mr. Rajesh Pati from ASRA; Mrs. Madaleine Lacour from France who is associated with Ekta Paishad; among others represented the various perspectives and voices that impact PFM in Jharkhand.

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 most significant outcome of the workshop was the constitution of a special committee which would review the reasons for the delayed implementation of the JFM resolutions of 2001 and 2007. This committee has been constituted by the PCCF and shall be monitored by him regularly.

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 Jharkhand, during the course of this project, as well as beyond it.

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