ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Need for a Comprehensive Monitoring Framework of Indian Forests

Forests are one of the crucial ecosystems in the world covering about 31% of the global terrestrial area (FAO 2020). More than 1.6 billion people worldwide are dependent on various forest resources and about 350 million people rely directly on them for their livelihoods, also contributing greatly to strengthen the overall gross domestic product (GDP) of nations (World Bank 2002; Li et al 2019). This has led to a decrease in forests globally due to the conversion to other land use and unsustainable extraction of timber and non-timber forest products (NTFPs) to meet the demands of the growing population (FAO 2020). Owing to the numerous benefits that forests provide, a comprehensive framework focusing on a multidimensional aspect is necessary for sustainable management and effective utilisation.

India is ranked 10th in the list of countries having the largest forest area comprising 1.8% of the world’s forests; they constitute 21.67% of the land area (ISFR 2019; FAO 2020). It has a livestock population of 18% and a human population of 17% globally leading to increased pressure on the existing forests for fodder, fuelwood, timber, and other NTFPs. As a result, rising population, industrialisation, infrastructure development, agricultural conversion, illegal logging, and forest fires are leading to the decline of forests (Sharma and Chaudhry 2013; Pokhriyal et al 2020). Additionally, the forests are adversely impacted by climate change (IPCC 2013; Devi et al 2018; Patasaraiya et al 2021), which together impair the ecosystem services and goods associated with the forest ecosystems. Such loss and damage will pose a challenging situation for the country to provide for livelihoods to the dependent communities. Therefore, in a country like India, where more than one-fifths of the geographical area is under forest cover and supports the livelihoods of more than 60% of the population, comprehensive monitoring and reporting of forest health on different social, ecological, and economic indicators assumes significance to promote sustain­able management besides tapping the potential to enhance forest-based livelihoods and income opportunities. However, such a comprehensive indicator-based framework is currently lacking in the national monitoring system, which precludes the realisation and appreciation of the complete potential of forests (Vijge and Gupta 2014).

Evolution of Forest Management and Monitoring in India

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Updated On : 8th Jan, 2022

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