Strengthening Participatory Forest Management in India (SPFMI) Updates

Final State-level Consultation workshop in Kerala

On Saturday, 16th January, 2016, Enviro Legal Defence Firm (ELDF) conducted the final state level consultation workshop for its pan India ‘Strengthening of Participatory Forest Management in India’ (SPFMI) project in Cochin, Kerala.

After the in-depth review and analysis of the legal and policy framework of participatory forest management regime along with field visits to sample sites in the study state of Kerala, ELDF team is diligently working to involve every relevant stakeholder in this project from the 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. 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 8 states of India including Kerala since July 2014. The project is in its Phase IV wherein all state level stakeholders would be engaged through series of consultation 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 consultation 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, officials from the State Biodiversity Board, other forest related institutions in the state, NGOs and subject matter experts from Kerala among others. Some of the honorary speakers included Shri. B. S. Corrie, PCCF and Head of Forest Forces, Shri. S. C. Joshi, the PCCF (Development & PFM), Shri. K.J.Varughese, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Environment and Tribal Welfare) and other officials from Kerala Forest Department, representatives from research institutions such as Kerala Institute for Research, Training and Development Studies of Scheduled Castes and Tribes (KIRTADS), Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), Tropical Institute for Ecological Sciences (TIES), well known domain experts as well as representatives from leading NGOs in the state such as WWF, Lawyer's Environmental Appellate Forum (LEAF), One Earth One Life, Friends of Nature, River Research Center and HELP Foundation, among others. In order to make it truly participatory, members from local communities and private sector stakeholders such as UPASI and Harrison Malayalam were also invited to share their inputs on the subject. 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.

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