ARNAB KUMAR HAZRA
Decrease in forest cover not only results in declining timber output for industries but also threatens global reserves of biodiversity, damages the carbon sinks that absorb greenhouse gases, degrades forest ecosystems and most importantly, jeopardises the well being of tens of millions of forest dependent people. Especially vulnerable are those historically marginalised, indigenous, and tribal populations that still live outside mainstream society.
Community-based management is both promising and often, effective. But until nation states grant legitimacy and protection to community-based regimes, little or no real progress in community-based resource management can take place. However, there is no fixed solution to the problem of degradation of forests and community-based management is not the only cure for the problems arising from decreasing forest cover.
The Forestry and Land Use Programme of the International Institute for Environment and Development (iied) embarked upon a project in January 1995, with the objective of improving the sustainability of forest management and optimising stakeholders benefits, in a number of countries.
The researchers tried to find out the contextual factors that are conducive to effective policies and the process that seems to have worked towards policy decisions that appear to be sound. It soon became clear that a flexible notion of policy was needed, which could accommodate different views within the country teams and could also provide a basis for the teams to engage with the prevailing perspective and state of the debate in each country. The book, which is more of a summary of the results and functioning of the projects, aims to discover what it takes for policy to provide a working, trusted, guiding framework in tackling forest problems and delivering equitable and sustainable benefits.
The book comprises six chapters and a host of annexes that outlines the working of the project in various countries. The first two chapters are introductory in nature wherein the authors spell the need for policy reforms towards forest management. However, in the process they adopt a holier- than-thou approach and vilify all other policy initiatives towards management of forests.
In order to justify the work that iied has undertaken, the authors write, "it is not difficult, however, to find isolated success. But they can turn out to be dangerous. The
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