16. Sustainable Management of Natural Resources | Class 10 CBSE | Web Notes | Part 2: Forests & Wildlife



Forests are biodiversity hotspots.

Biodiversity of an area is measured based on the number of species and the range of different life forms.


Stakeholders of forests include

·  Local people living in or around forests.

·  The Forest Department of the Government which owns the land and controls resources from forests.

·  Industrialists who use various forest produce. E.g. bidi makers use tendu leaves, labours in paper mills.

·  Wildlife & nature enthusiasts who want to conserve nature in its pristine form.

Local people depend on forest produce such as

o Firewood, small timber and thatch.

o Bamboo to make slats (for huts) and baskets.

o Wood to make implements for agriculture, fishing and hunting. Forests are also sites for fishing and hunting.

o Fruits, nuts and medicines.

o Cattle graze in forest or feed on the fodder from forests.

Before the British came, people in forests used the resources in a sustainable manner. After that the British took control and overexploited the forests. Local people were forced to depend on much smaller areas.

After independence, Forest Department took over the control but local knowledge and local needs were again ignored. Huge forest areas are cleared of vegetation for converting to monocultures of pine, teak or eucalyptus. It causes loss of biodiversity.

Industries such as timber, paper, lac & sports equipment are based on forest produce. Industries consider the forest as just a source of raw material. Huge interest-groups lobby the government to get raw materials at artificially low rates. Industries have a greater reach than the local people. So, they are not interested in the sustainability of the forest in an area. E.g. if all teak trees in an area are cut down, they will get it from another area.

The nature & wildlife enthusiasts are conservationists but are not dependent on the forests. They were initially taken up with large animals like lions, tigers, elephants & rhinoceros. They now recognise the need to preserve biodiversity as a whole.

Local people work traditionally for conservation of forests. E.g. Bishnois community (western Rajasthan on the border of Thar desert). They have been conserving the flora & fauna. Their basic philosophy is that all living things have a right to survive and share all resources.

The Government of India has instituted ‘Amrita Devi Bishnoi National Award for Wildlife Conservation’ in the memory of Amrita Devi Bishnoi. In 1731, she sacrificed her life along with 363 people to protect ‘khejri’ trees in Khejrali village (Rajasthan).

The prejudice against traditional use of forest areas has no basis. E.g., Great Himalayan National Park contains alpine meadows which were grazed by sheep in summer. When this national park was formed, grazing was stopped. Now, due to the lack of grazing, the grass first grows very tall, and then falls over preventing fresh growth.

Management of protected areas without local people is not successful. Also, the damage caused to forests cannot be attributed to only the local people. Deforestation is caused by industries and for development and tourism.

Use of forest resources should be environmentally and developmentally sound. While the environment is preserved, the benefits of the controlled exploitation go to the local people. It is a process in which decentralised economic growth and ecological conservation go to all.

The environment is not a mere pristine collection of plants and animals. It offers a range of natural resources. They have to be used carefully for our economic and social growth, and to meet our material aspirations.

Management of forest

Forest resources are available for industrial use at very low rates. But these are denied to the local people.

The Chipko Andolan (‘Hug the Trees Movement’) was an effort to end the alienation of people from their forests. It originated during early 1970s, as a result of a dispute between the local villagers (in a village Reni in Garhwal) and a logging contractor. When his workers came to cut the trees, the village women clasped tree trunks. So, the contractor had to withdraw.

Destruction of forests reduced forest products, quality of soil and sources of water. Participation of local people can efficiently manage the forests. E.g. In 1972, the West Bengal Forest Department failed to revive the degraded Sal forests. The surveillance and policing caused clashes between forest officials and villagers. It also fuelled the militant peasant movements of the Naxalites. So, Department changed its strategy. In the Arabari forest range (Midnapore district), a forest officer, A.K. Banerjee involved the villagers to protect 1,272 hectares of degraded Sal Forest. In return, villagers got employment in silviculture and harvesting, 25 % of the final harvest, and allowed fuelwood and fodder collection on small payment. Thus Sal forests were recovered.

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