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Property rights and sustainable forest management

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Property rights and sustainable forest management

  2. 2. Introduction • The state Haryana has traditionally played a central role in forest management in post-colonial India. • Large tracts of forests were nationalized • with a view to promote soil and water conservation and • maximize revenue from the sale of forest products. • The June 1, 1990 Circular of the Government of India which laid down norms for • the involvement of village communities • in management of degraded state forest lands was an acknowledgment by the State • of the need to encourage institutional innovations that would • promote sustainable forest management practices.
  3. 3. Adaptation of Govt. Circular • Haryana was the first state in India to bring into effect the provisions of the June 1, 1990 Circular of the Government of India. • Many factors for adaptation 1. Nationalization of forests in the region in total disregard of customary rules had created animosity between the Haryana Forest Department (HFD) and village forest communities. 2. Forest degradation had reached alarming levels and was responsible for accentuating soil erosion in the Shiwalik hills. 3. The state of Haryana had achieved positive results in its initial experiments with community forestry prior to 1990.
  4. 4. The Initial Situation • The initial impetus for community based forest management in Haryana came from • the failure of the Forest Department to halt the siltation of the Sukhna lake in Chandigarh. Chandigarh’s Sukhna lake was created in 1950 by building a dam across the Sukhna Choe in the 1950's. By 1974 it was found that 60 percent of the lake’s storage capacity was filled with silt. • A study conducted by the Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute (CSWCRTI) found that • the hills behind the village of Sukhomajiri were highly degraded. • Barely 5 percent of the slopes had any vegetative cover and the sedimentation rate was as high as 900 tones per ha annually.
  5. 5. Cont.… • The study undertaken by CSWCRTI identified • the primary cause behind such high rates of resource degradation to be uncontrolled grazing of cattle and encroachment of hill forests for agriculture. • With the aim of reversing resource degradation in the Sukhna catchment, it was suggested that • soil and conservation works be undertaken in the area. • The treatment plan included the construction of check dams, silt retention dams and afforestation.
  6. 6. • Local villagers who were hired by the Forest Department to construct water harvesting structures destroyed the same structures at night. • They removed the stone edges of the dams to permit free access of their cattle into the forest area. • The wooden posts of the brushwood palisades were removed for use as firewood. • The attempts of the Forest Department to install four strand barbed wire fences to restrict access to the forest also failed as the villagers destroyed the fences at several points. • The failure of technical measures forced officials of the Haryana Forest Department to seek out other solutions to the
  7. 7. • Soon established that the solution to deteriorating forest condition • lay in improving the socio-economic condition of the local population in the region. The Gujjars who predominated in the region were a group of professional grazers. The average land holding size of households in a village was about 0.5 ha. • The backbone of the economy was subsistence agriculture which was supplemented by livestock rearing. • The high rates of silt deposition from the hills had rendered land unfit for cultivation.. The economic insecurity associated with declining agricultural productivity had forced many villagers to clear hill slopes to carry out cultivation. While this practice yielded little in terms of increasing agricultural production, it
  8. 8. The Process of institutional change • The Haryana Forest Department addressed the institutional issue • by attempting to replace an open access regime of mutual privilege and • no right into a common property regime of mutual right and duty. • An integral component of this strategy was • the creation of an elaborate structure of incentives. • The HFD • constructed Water harvesting dams in the hills and • the rain water which collected in these structures • was used to irrigate low lying agricultural fields. • In response to the increased water availability from the dams, • Water User’s Associations were formed
  9. 9. • Noticing that rates of natural regeneration had improved the Forest Department decided that • an institutional mechanism should be established to share the benefits of increased forest productivity with village communities. • A Joint Management Unit (JMU) was established • with representatives from TERI and the Haryana Forest Department • to deliberate on issues related to the management of the community forestry programme. • State, Divisional and Range level Working Groups have been established • to decide on issues related to pricing of forest products and forest protection. Joint Management Unit
  10. 10. Hill Resource Management Societies (HRMS) • The Water Users Association • Renamed as HRMS, • these institutions were granted annual leases for fodder grass. • Annual leases for harvesting bhabbar grass (used in rope making) and bamboo were also granted to the HRMS. • The HRMS was also given • the responsibility of repair and maintenance of water harvesting structures in the vicinity of forest areas. • It was also envisaged that the • HRMS would serve as an institution to channelize benefits • that are likely to accrue from the sale of timber from forest areas. • The HRMS, therefore, became the • focus of the Forest Department’s attempt • to reduce the costs of protection and • increase the productivity of forests in the Shiwalik hills of Haryana.
  11. 11. Outcome • A number of studies have pointed • to an overall improvement in the ecological condition of the forests in the Shiwalik hills. Encouraged by the findings of these studies • the Haryana Forest Department has expanded the Community forest management programme. Presently, a total of 65 HRMS’s are actively engaged in the management of approximately 1500 sq. kilometers of forest land in the Shiwalik hills of Haryana.
  12. 12. A Study • However, despite the overwhelming evidence of improvement in forest condition in the areas managed by the HRMS, there has been a dearth of research on the impact of changes in use and access regulations on rural communities dependent on forest areas. • To bridge this information gap a study was undertaken in the Yamuna Nagar Forest Division of Haryana. Five villages with forests under varying property regimes were selected for the study. One of the study villages has • a forest under an open-access regime (village A). • The second village has a forest under community forestry programme (village B), • the third has a forest under state management (village C), • the fourth village has a forest that has been titled and completely sold (village D) and • the fifth village has a forest that is part titled and part sold (village E).
  13. 13. • The objective of the study • was to ascertain the impact of changes in property rights regimes on access to forest products and ecological condition of forests. • Finally, a benefit-cost analysis was undertaken • to identify the economic viability of forest protection strategies under different rights regimes. • The benefit-cost analysis was undertaken under • four scenarios to ascertain the costs and associated benefits • which accrue to rural communities from adopting different forest management strategies. • The study considered three parameters in determining the effectiveness of a property rights regime. 1. Access to forest resources; 2. Forest condition and 3. Associated benefits and costs.
  14. 14. Study Examined… • The impact of a change in rights regime on access to forest resources. • In particular access conditions relating to fuel wood, fodder, bhabbar grass and water were examined. • In the village under the community forestry programme • the findings of the household survey indicate that • there has been a decline in access to forest resources in the wake of the introduction of the programme. • On the other hand, access to forest resources have shown a tendency to increase or to remain constant in the village • under regime which exhibits features of both private titling and open access resource use (communal tenure).
  15. 15. • Examined the impact of a change in rights regime on forest condition. • Two issues were studied to ascertain the condition of the forest. 1. Standing volume of trees, 2. Girth classes of trees in the forest. • The study indicates that • compared to the forests under open access and state ownership, forest condition under community forestry and communal tenure were satisfactory. • Using the two parameters, it was established • that the condition of the forest in the village under the community forestry project was better than that of the forest under communal tenure. • This finding corroborates the findings of earlier studies from Haryana which point to an improvement in forest condition under the community forest management programme.
  16. 16. Benefit Cost Analysis • Based on the analysis of the first two factors • of access to forest resources and forest condition, • the forest under community forestry and that under communal tenure were relatively well managed. • As a result a benefit-cost analysis was undertaken • visualized four different scenarios. 1. dams built by the forest department; 2. dams built by the community; 3. no lease charged by the Forest Department and no dam; 4. Plantation cost borne by the community and rights to timber granted to the community. • The results suggests that • a regime which promotes both general access to and optimum production from certain types of resources (e.g. bhabbar grass) while enjoining on the community the conservation measures • necessary to protect these resources from destruction produces optimal social, economic and ecological outcomes.
  17. 17. The lessons learnt • The findings of the case study reveal that community based forest management initiatives like the one in Haryana, need not always produce optimum results. • Although the experiment has produced dramatic improvements in ecological condition of forests, continuing research is required to minimize the economic costs of community based forest management projects. • The benefit-cost analysis indicates that the state has crucial role to play in sustaining community based forest management institution through creation of infrastructure like water harvesting dams.
  18. 18. The lessons learnt • Further, the study shows that when titling of forest land results in an outright sale to individuals with no links to the community, the potential for sustainable forest management can be undermined. • However, when titling of forest land does not result in a complete exclusion of non-owners from a benefit stream, sustainable management practices may emerge. • Therefore, reinforcing some form of communal tenure may provide a viable alternative to community based forest management regimes which in some cases entail higher social and economic costs.