India has hosted 19th Commonwealth Forestry Conference under the auspices of the Government of India, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, Dehradun from 3rd April to 7th April 2017. More than 700 participants from many Commonwealth countries including India attended the XIX CFC. The conference chose the theme “Forests for Prosperity and Posterity” and aimed to especially deliberate on emerging new perspectives in view of magnified global expectations from the world’s forests towards addressing the sustainable development goals.
The CFC Conference invited six Sub-themes,
- Biodiversity conservation and management
- Livelihood and economic security from forests
- Diversification, multiple use and sustainable harvest
- Good governance in forestry
- Forests and climate change
- Forest and Water
These six topics were covered in 19 technical sessions spread over the five-day conference. The broad recommendations that emerged from various sessions, events and wide-ranging deliberations were:
1) Redefine forest management priorities:
Considering the magnified expectations from forests, commonwealth nations need to adopt a vision of multiple values and integrated use, reassess the current status of forests as well as public perceptions of forests and forestry.
2) Revisit forest policy, law, and forest planning strategy for preparation of forest plans:
Consider and adopt new science-based approaches to forest planning for evolving the new perspective. Forest working or management plans must consider the cumulative effects of actions at a landscape scale and:
Reintroduce the strong population viability clause within wildlife management,
Adopt adaptive management based on effective monitoring, and
Develop an administrative code of ethics that will avoid political inference and preserve the integrity of scientific research and monitoring efforts.
3) Maintain wilderness and protected areas:
Wilderness and protected areas provide a unique opportunity due to their size, relatively untrammelled state, and because they possess the relatively viable population of wildlife and have the capacity to sustain important ecosystem services and serves as breeding grounds for numerous rare and threatened species.
4) Protection of forests and ecological restoration of degraded forests
Widely distributed, smaller and fragmented patches of managed forests often face enormous challenges of degradation.
Ecological restoration of such degraded forests, which have been functioning as sink habitats.
Crucial corridors and connectivity amongst source and sink forests need to be prioritized.
Enhanced forest investments towards afforestation and restoration of functional corridors are required as a priority.
5) Investment for stakeholder engagement, community participation, coordination, and consensus building for integrated approach
Forest conservations and sound stewardship depend on integrated, landscape-scale perspectives to drive appropriate policy. The management of forest and other public lands can no longer proceed in a piecemeal manner with different states, communities, agencies acting independently, limiting their focus to particular resources or jurisdictional boundaries. It will require:
- Coordination among different sectors and mechanisms for governance,
- Strong linkage between forestry and agriculture, and other priority production sectors,
- Search for and development of innovative financial investment mechanisms for the forestry sector including ‘public-private partnerships’.
6) Capacity Building:
- The evolving perspective of forest management requires:
- Long-term and experimental research;
- Greater awareness and resolute support for capacity building through rigorous trans-disciplinary approaches;
- Effective monitoring;
- The empowerment of women working in the sector;
- Adequate and up-to-date training of all concerned.
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