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The Indian forestry system at a crossroads: an outsider's view

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The paper is a summary of contributed papers in this volume from an outsider's view. The objective of the paper is to try to identify the most important issues for actions in order to enable the forest sector/system to meet future national needs.

The paper identifies four interlinked issues/components as priorities in order to promote sustainable development of the Indian forest sector. Nearly all of the papers identify a lack of reliable Data and Inventories with respect to functions, management and impacts of the Indian forest sector. Therefore, it is imperative to start the process of establishing needed inventories. This process should have integrated and systems view approaches. The new data and inventories should feed into the component of Integrated Assessments. In order to set appropriate strategies and policies, relevant integrated assessments are necessary with respect to outlooks and impacts of different actions. These integrated assessments should go far beyond the traditional forest sector to be meaningful and to deal with real issues causing the degradation of the Indian forest resources, like sustenance and livelihood pressures. The integrated assessments should feed into a Strategic Planning process. Currently there is no strategic planning process in place with respect to the forest sector. An ongoing institutionalised process has to be established with integrated and systems view approaches that attempt to interlink the major sectors affecting the over-utilisation of the Indian forest resources and deriving non-sustainable benefits from the sector. The strategic plan implementation will require restructuring of the existing Governance and Institutions with respect to the forest sector. The governance and institutions have to, in the future, operate in a much more integrated way taking on board crosscutting issues in order to address the real problems of the sector and to interlink more efficiently in governance between states and central government.

The four components above are strongly interlinked and should be regarded as one package for actions. Many more issues/ concerns can be identified in the presented papers but I feel it is important to start with the implementation of a limited package of important actions in order to reach results.
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Keywords: data; governance; integrated assessments; inventories; strategic planning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Acting Director and Former Forestry Program Leader, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria.

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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