Forests are a very important source of natural resources like wood, bamboo, thatching material etc. It also has a great influence on the environment like climate, water availability, soil erosion, flood and nutrient turnover. It is also the last portion of the world’s fauna and flora. Wood which is the main forest produce has been used from the very early days of human civilization. Even though substitute has been found for most natural materials wood remains irreplaceable in most of its uses. Wood is the major cooking fuel for vast majority of the world’s population; it provides the raw material for pulp, paper and cellulose base industries and is still a major component in the building industry.
Wood is playing as important a role in human lives today as it did in the ancient times. It is still vitally necessary in the lives of people, particularly in the developing countries. With the increase in the population of the world, the pressure on land increased very greatly. This together with the requirement of timber for an increasing world population has resulted in large scale destruction of forest. According to Porte (1989) 33 million acres of tropical forests are cleared every year.
The situation in Bangladesh is not any better than other developing countries. In fact because of its small land base and very large population, the situation here is more precarious than most other countries. The population of the country more than two and a half fold in the last four decades, while during the same period of time there has not been any addition to the existing forests except for the establishment of about 250,000 acres of plantation in the newly accreted coastal char land.
Even though on record about 6.1 million acres of forest exists in Bangladesh, in reality, less than half of that can be considered as productive. This has been the result of over exploitation of trees resources for meeting the demand of population which is much larger than what our forest can support.
A portion of the forest has also been lost to jhuming and encroachment. This has resultant in diminished supply situation causing a steadily widening gap between demand and supply of wood.
Forests in Bangladesh
Bangladesh has 2.60 million ha of forest land which is about 17.62% of the land area of the country. Of the forest land, Forest Department manages 10.37% (1.53 million ha) while the rest of the area is managed by either deputy commissioners of three hill districts (unclassed state forests) or privately manage (rubber and tea garden and social forestry plantation) though forest land is about 18%. However, actual tree covered area is only 8.6% (hill forest 2.7%, littoral 3.3%, Sal forest 0.8% an village forest 1.8%). The forest area of Bangladesh is presented in table 1. Forest situation in Bangladesh
Bangladesh has lost over 50% of its forest resource over the period of about 25years. According to forests experts, we should have at least 25% of our total land area covered with trees, or forests to enjoy the benefit of nature. But a total of 769,000 hectares or 6% of the countries land mass have actual tree cover (from forestry master plan & surveys by multi-lateral donor agencies). At approximately 0.02 ha per person of forest, Bangladesh currently has one of the lowest per capita forest ratio in the world.
In Bangladesh, government owned forest area covers 2.19 million ha with the remaining 0.27 million ha being privately controlled homestead forests. Of the government owned forest land, 1.49 million ha are national forests under the control of the Department of Forest, with the rest being under control of local governments. Of the state owned forests, over 90% is concentrated in 12 districts in the Eastern and South-Western region of the country. However, due to over exploitation these forests have become seriously degraded.
Major Causes for depletion of forest
An inventory shows that there has been overall depletion in forest resources in all major state owned forest. The growing stock in Sundarban has been depleted from 20.3 million cubic meters in 1960 to 10.9 million cubic meters in 1998. In the Hill forest of hill districts, the growing stock has depleted from 23.8 million cubic meters in 1964 to less then 20.7 million cubic meters in l998. Over-cutting by timber merchants, increased consumption linked to population growth, shifting cultivation, encroachment, illegal felling and land clearing for agriculture, lack of participatory management have been the principal causes of deforestation and shrinking of forest land in the country.
Status of the resources base
Because of heavier exploitation than a desirable level, there has been an overall depletion in forest resources in all the major forests. The growing stock in Sundarbans has depleted from 717 million cu. ft. in 1960 (forestral) to 375.7 million cubic feet in 1984 (Chaffey, et.al.). This is roughly 48% depletion of tree resources in Sundarbans over 25 years. Similarly, in the reserved forest of Chittagong Hill Tracts the growing stock has depleted from 840 million cubic feet in 1964-65 (Forestral) to less than 700 million cubic feet in 1985. According to De Milde, et.al. (1985) there has been 61% depletion in growing stock in Ranglheong Reserve forests in the Hill Tracts between 1963 and 1983.
Similarly the growing stock in the unclassed state forest has dwindled from 121 million cubic feet in 1964 (forests) to less than 50 million cubic feet at present. There has not been any stock taking of village resources after 1981. However, it is generally believed that over exploitation has caused substantial depletion of village tree resources. Flood has also caused a major destruction of village tree resources.
According to the latest assessment, the per capita consumption of fuel wood and timber in 2.3 and 0.38 cubic feet respectively (Byron et. al. 1983). Based on this assessment, the consumption of fuel wood and timber during the current year is about 246.0 million cubic feet respectively. The broad usages of fuel wood are cooking fuel (Approx. 69%) brick burning (23% approx) and industrial fuel and raw material (Approx 8%).
However, the above information does not provide an overall picture of the energy consumption in the country. Cooking fuel constitutes only about 70% biomass fuel consumption in the country and fuel wood constitutes only about 20% of all biomass fuel utilized as cooking fuel. Agriculture residue and cow dung constitute about 60% and 20% respectively of the biomass fuel consumption in the country.
According to available information (BAPP report, 1985; Islam, 1986) about 38% of roughly 61 million metric tons of agricultural residues and 34% of 22 million tons of cow dung are used annually as cooking fuel. Agricultural residue and cow-dung can be used more profitably as animal feed and organic fertilizer. The result of use of these two commodities as cooking fuel has far reaching implication which are not confined just loss of animal feed and nutrients.
Forest management in Bangladesh
In Bangladesh management of government forest is the responsibility of the Forest Department under the Ministry of Environment and Forest. In this process the department is managing, protecting, developing the forest resources, forest land and also collecting the revenues. People have never been consulted nor involved in forestry activities. From the management point of view, forest of Bangladesh is being divided into three categories such as:
← State owned forest under the administrative control of Forest Department. ← State owned forest under the administrative control of Ministry of Land through District administration. ← Private village forest managed by private individuals.
Type of forest
The natural forests of the country are classified into three categories: 1) Tropical evergreen/ semi-evergreen forest in the eastern districts of Sylhet, Chittagong, Chittagong Hill Tracts, and Cox’s Bazaar: 2) Moist/dry deciduous forest also known as Sal forests in the central and the northwest region and 3) Tidal mangrove forest along the coast, known as the sundarban, the largest mangrove ecosystem in the world. These forests are official reserves and placed under the jurisdiction of the Forest Department. Unfortunately, recent inventories indicate a continuing depletion of all major forests.
Forest under Forest Department control and management again divided into three major types,
• Hill Forests
• Plain land Forests and
• Mangrove Forests.
Hill Forests: The tropical evergreen/semi evergreen forest cover as approximately 1.32 million ha of which 0.67 million ha is controlled by the forest department and rest is under the control of hill district council. Clear felling followed by replanting with suitable species (both long and short rotation) is the method of management in hill forest. Because of increased demand for timber and fuel wood and prevailing socio-economic condition of the country this forest has greatly affected and rate of denudation is considerably high. The forest department is mainly confined in raising of single species plantation. Inventory shows that most of these plantations would not give the desirable output.
This programme suffers from technical, social and administrative soundness. Another problem is most of the hill forest are subjected to shifting cultivation by the hill tribes. The tribes are entitled to shifting cultivation in forest land under administrative control of district administration which has resulted in the total destruction of this tropical evergreen forest. The growing stock has depleted from 23.8 million cubic meters in 1964 to less than 20.7 million cubic meters in 1998.
In the Chittagong Hill Tracts, substantial loss of forest resources is attributed to commercial exploitation of immature trees for sale in the black market in collusion with an unscrupulous section of the forest department people, said some sources that who preferred not to be identified. Commercial use of forest land for mono-culture of rubber and fuel wood also left negative impact on the country’s forestry resources.
Mangrove Forests: The single largest chunk of productive forest in the country is located in the intertidal zone in the south western districts of Khulna, Bagerhat and Satkhira. It has a type of tree formation which grows on swampy land in undated daily by tidal water-which is known as a mangrove forest. This forests, otherwise known as the Sundarbans with an area of 1.46 million acres in the single largest source of timber and fuel wood in the country. It is also the single largest productive mangrove forest in the world.
Sundarban forests are being managed by selection felling method followed by natural regeneration. Beside Sundarbans, plantations are being raised with mangrove species in the newly accreted char land all along the Coast of the Bay of Bengal. Sundarban forest is an official reserve forest; unfortunately recent inventory shows a continuous depletion due to over-cutting, illegal felling. It is estimated that in less then 25 years, the volume of commercial species Sundari, Gewa, has declined by 40 to 50% respectively.
A new form of encroachment of forest is the clearing of trees for shrimp culture in the coastal areas, especially in Satkhira and Cox’s Bazaar. According to the department of environment (DOE), Chokoria and some other parts of the Cox’s Bazar area, have been completely destroyed in the last 13 years. Shrimp culture having devoured most of the forest land there.
Plain land Forests: Plain land forests covering 0.30 million acres are located in greater district of Dhaka, Tangail, Mymensingh, Jamalpur, Rangpur, Dinajpur and Rajshahi. These forests are also known as Sal forests, because Sal is the predominant species. Silvicultural system applied for Sal forest was coppice with standard system. In this system matured trees were felled and the areas were protected for coppice regeneration. The typical nature of Sal forest is that this forest is scattered. In the forest areas there are agricultural lands owned by the adjacent people.
Frequently these land owners are extending their lands and encroaching to forest and in the process they are destroying the forest and subsequently converting the area to agricultural land. In this process forest lands are being marginalized day by day. FAO estimated that only 36% of the Sal forest cover remained in 1985; more recent estimates that only 10% of the forest cover remains due to over exploitation and illicit felling through there is an official base on logging since 1972. Most of the Sal forests are now substantially degraded and poorly stocked.
Forest management approaches in Bangladesh
Since 1960 two major approaches regarding the role of forestry in development have been reflected in the forestry sector of Bangladesh. In the 1960’s, Bangladesh as a part of Pakistan and then as an independent nation has followed ‘An Industrialization Approach’ consonant with the international conventional wisdom at that time. As a result, Department of Forest raised large-scale Industrial plantation which were seen as conversion of low-yielding natural forest into artificial plantation of species (mostly teak) of great economic importance.
This conversion of semi-evergreen and evergreen forest into deciduous teak plantation was largely concentrated in hill forest areas. During the plantation raising local people were not consulted and often they did not drive any benefits from these plantations. The lack of support by the local people/ communities in combination with lack of silvicultural knowledge and lack of proper maintenance contributed to raise low quality plantations and these plantations were also lost due to illegal felling. Forest Department was considered as revenue earning department. The main activities of Forest Department were concentrated in extraction of trees from the forest and replanting of those felled areas where applicable, Forest Department has not considered the people and their participation in managing forest of the country.
In the 1980s following a change in thinking about the role of forestry in development, and people’s participation in forestry activity was encouraged. People participation with the forestry sector realized the need of people oriented forestry programme to replenish the degraded forest resources of the country. Accordingly, in 1994 Government formulated a forest policy replacing earlier one enunciated in 1979 with a due emphasis to the need for people’s participation in forest management.
Participatory forest management approach in Bangladesh
(a). Past activities
Forest extension activities were formally launched in the country in the year of 1964 with the establishment of two forest extension divisions at Dhaka and Rajshahi and later two divisions at Comilla and Jessore. It was really a very small programme and the activities were confined only to establish nursery in the districts headquarter and raised seedling and sell the same to individuals and organizations. The location of this programme was so urbanized and limited that it only partially served the needs of the effluent town dwellers only.
(b). Betagi- pomora comunity forestry project
The first community forestry programme in the country, started at Betagi and Pomora mouza under the district of Chittagong in the year of 1979 with the personal initiative of Prof. A. Alim, renowned forester and Prof. Dr.Mohammed Yunus, founder of Gramen Bank. Initially the project covered 160 ha of Government denuded hilly land at Betagi and with 83 landless participants from adjacent community and subsequently extend over another 205 ha of Government owned denuded hilly land at Pomora with another batch of 243 landless (families) participants.
Under this programme each landless participant was provided with 1.62 ha of land for growing tree and horticultural crops with technical and financial assistance from the Forest Department. This community programme has given the landless an identity of their own and a sense of direction in life. But this model has not been replicated in the other areas due to lack of initiative of the Forest Department as well as the Government.
(c). Rehabilitation of Jhumia families (shifting cultivator families) Another project was undertaken by the Forest Department in the Hill tract areas to establish plantation through rehabilitation of Jhumia families in 1980. Main objectives of the programme were,
I. To rehabilitate tribal families in the Unclassed State Forest (USF) lands along with rehabilitation of denuded USP land; II. To introduce a sustainable agro forestry production system; III. To improve the socio-economic condition of the tribal people and IV. To motivate tribal people in development of forestry.
Under this programme each family was allocated 2.02 ha of USF land for growing agricultural crops (over 1.20 ha), raising plantation (0.80 ha) and for house construction (0.20 ha). The rehabilitated families were given land use rights and were allowed to enjoy 100% benefits accrued to those lands. The participants were given input support for growing agriculture, horticulture and forestry crops and cash support for house construction. This programme continues for quite a long period of time but could not sustain mainly because of nomadic character of the tribal groups.
Another reason of failure was that the families were rehabilitated in clustered villages without considering their cultural and religious values. Thus in most of the cases, it was found that the families have left the area. A parallel programme was also initiated by the Chittagong Hill Tract Development Board in which Forest Department was responsible for implementation of afforestation component where Chittagong Hill Tract Development Board was responsible for the rehabilitation component. This program was also not found so much responsive to hilly people except for some plantation establishment.
(d). Development of community forests project
The activities of the first phase of this project began in 1981 and were completed in 1987 in seven greater districts of the North-Western zone of the country. The main components of the project were:
▪ Strip plantations along roads and highways, railways, canal sides, district and Union Parishad roads, totaling about 4,000 km. ▪ Fuel wood plantation on 4800 ha of depleted Government land on participatory concept. ▪ Agroforestry demonstration farms over 120 ha also with participatory concept. ▪ Replenishment of depleted homestead wood lots in 4,650 villages. ▪ Training of Forest Department Personnel and Village leaders.
(e). Development of forest extension services (l980-l987)
Development of Forest Extension Services (Phase II) began in 1980 with the Government funding and subsequently amalgamated in some areas (i.e. North-North West district) with Asian Development Bank funded Community Forestry Project. The main activities under this programme were: ← afforestation in some 3100 villages.
← roadside tree planting along 3600 km of primary highways and roads and about 600 km of Union Parishad roads. ← Production of 49 million seedlings for distribution.
(f). Thana afforestation and nursery development project
This project is a follow-up of Development of Community Forestry Project and Forest Extension Project and has been designed primarily to: o Increase the production of biomass fuels and o Enhance the institutional capability of FD and local administration in implementing a self-sustaining nationwide social forestry programme. In order to increase the production of biomass fuel and to arrest the depletion of tree resources, the project envisaged to develop tree resources base through planting of depleted Sal forest as well as brining all suitable and available land in the rural areas under tree cover with active participation of the rural poor of the locality.
Originally the project was to be implemented by the Forest Department and former Thana Parishad during the period of 1987 to 1994. But in 1992 Government decided that the all project activities were to be implemented by Forest department alone.
The major components of the project were: 1. Establishment of plantation over 20,225 ha depleted Sal forest areas. 2. Development of agroforestry over 4,200 ha in the Sal forest lands. 3. Raising strip plantation on 17,272 km along Road and highway, Railways, Embankment and Feeder Roads. 4. Raising l, 282 ha plantation in the land outside the BWDB. 5. Planting 7.017 million seedlings at the premises of different education, religious and social institutions 6. Establishment of 345 nurseries at Thana headquarters.
7. Raising of l0.6l8 million seedlings for distribution to public. 8. Training of some 76,000 people of different levels.
Here this may be mentioned that at the last stage of the project implementation, the Government has found that this was quite impossible to protect the strip plantation and also impossible to trained 76,000 people by the Forest Department alone.
The Government invited NGOs to participate in this programme for successful implementation. PROSHIKA, POUSH, GRAMMEN BANK and other NGOs came forward to help the Government for successful completion of the project; NGOs employed their group members to protect the strip plantation and ADAB came forward to train people at different levels with the help of its member organizations. The above plantation activities were carried out with the direct participation of the local people with the help of the NGOs by executing benefit sharing agreement.
(g). Coastal greenbelt project
Another project financed by Asian Development Bank is under implementation in the Coastal region of Bangladesh. The main objective of the project is to create a vegetative belt all along the coast to save the lives and properties of the people living in the coastal areas from devastated cyclone and tidal surges which occur very frequently in those areas. All of the activities of this project are also being carried out following participatory approach. In this project also the participants have been selected among the poor people living in the adjacent areas by involving NGO and a pre-designed benefit sharing agreements also being executed with the participants to protect their rights over plantations and to ensure benefit expected to be received out of the plantation.
(H). Agroforestry research project
Pilot Agroforestry Research and Demonstration was implemented by the FD in the Sal forest areas. The project had been developed precisely to design/develop agroforestry modules which is environmentally feasible, socio-economically acceptable enhance tree and crop production at the same time to uplift the socio-economic condition of the participants. The project aimed at using 120 ha of encroached Sal Forest land of Dhaka, Mymenshing and Tangail Forest Division to develop suitable participatory plantation models.
(i). Food assisted social forestry programme
The World Food Programme assisted the Government to develop Social Forestry as a national programme and the Government incorporated WFP assisted social forestry programme in its annual development plan from 1998. Poverty alleviation, economic rehabilitation of rural poor especially the destitute women of the society by engaging them in forestry activities, social uplift of rural poor and environmental improvement are the main objectives of this project.
Historically this programme was conceived in the country since 1989 on pilot basis allocating in kind resources (Wheat) to a limited number of NGOs for raising strip plantation along roads, embankments, Highways etc. in rural areas following the participatory mechanism. In implementing this programme FD was involved later on to provide technical guidance to the NGOs and other GOB agencies. At present probably this is the largest Participatory Forestry Programme in Bangladesh.
From l990, 100 NGOs are involved in this programme and at present about 60 NGOs are continuing with the programme. Commencing from 1990 up to 1998 about 31 million trees were planted involving 0.062 million people directly and 0.62 million people indirectly. The programme has created employment to the tune of 68 million man days. This programme is being implemented by the NGOs through contractual benefit sharing among participating poor men & women 60%, NGOs 10%, the rest land owners.
NGO participation in the forest management
In Bangladesh the history of NGO involvement in the field of development is not very old. After liberation, NGO started their activities through relief and rehabilitation of the war victims. During mid-seventies, NGO switched over to the socio-economic development of the rural poor, and at present there are thousands of NGOs most of whose mandate is to organize rural poor and provide awareness, education, skill training and various support services including credit to enhance participation of landless poor in the development process towards self-reliance.
On the basis of the networking throughout the country the NGO can be classified into two levels;
I) local and
At present more then 100 NGOs both local and National are implementing social forestry programme in Bangladesh. It is not possible to enlist activities of all the NGOs involved in the Social forestry programme in the country. The participatory forestry activities of some of the NGOs are highlighted here who are playing pioneer role in this field.
BRAC: The Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) has been established in 1972 and this is the largest NGO in Bangladesh. BRAC has six categories of projects/ programmes in broad sense among which Social Forestry falls within rural development programme. The Social/ Participatory forestry has three components;
1. Nursery establishment;
2. Plantation and
3. Establishment of agroforestry.
They claim that they have assisted their women members in raising more then 225 homestead nurseries and 100 large nurseries with a combined production capacity of a million seedlings of fruits and forest seedlings. They have established 200 mulberry nurseries with the production capacity of 2 million seedlings.
Social afforestation programme of BRAC is WFP assisted which has been commenced from 1989 and till now it is going on. Most of the plantation under this programme has been established along the strips. Up to this time about 33.72 million seedlings have been planted over an area of 33,700 km strips along road, railway and embankment. This programme involves about 670,000 participants of which 80% are women.
PROSHIKA: Proshika – A center for human development is one of the largest NGO in Bangladesh. The Social Forestry Programme of Proshika is a systematic intervention effort to enhance afforestation in the country and to make a case that the poor are the best managers and protectors of forest resources if they are granted usufruct rights on these resources. Proshika has introduced its group members in social forestry activities and provided them with credit and technical support, which contributed significantly to their self-sufficiency. The main components of social forestry programme of Proshika are;
a. Homestead plantation;
b. Strip and block plantation;
c. Natural Forest protection, and
d. Nursery establishment.
Proshika has planted 71 million seedlings which covered along 8,887 km strips, 37,662 areas of block plantation which included natural Sal forest protection throughout the country. One of the most significant contributors of Proshika to the development arena is the introduction of the concept of participatory forest management for natural forest protection.
Proshika has successfully involved the forest dwellers in the Sal forest areas of Kaliakoir, Mirzapur, Shakhipur and Shreepur thanas under district of Tangail and Gazipur for the protection of coppice Sal forest by involving group members of Proshika. It has already been proved that when poor people surviving on the forest resources are organized, trained and granted usufruct rights, they present on enormous human potential needed for afforestation and forest protection.
RDRS: The Rangpur – Dinajpur Rural Services operating in 28 thanas of greater Rangpur and Dinajpur districts covering 28 thanas. It is the largest International Integrated Rural Development NGOs operating in Northern Bangladesh for more than two decades. Its entry point in forestry was through road side plantation in 1977. Initially, seedlings were protected with bamboo cages. Situation has been changed a lot nowadays and protection of seedlings with bamboo cage has be come a part of history. Besides strip plantation, they also extend their tree plantation programme in homestead, institutional grounds as well as raising of local nurseries.
With the assistance of WFP they have planted about 10.66 million trees under their participatory afforestation programme. TMSS: It stands for Thangamara Mohila Sabuj Sangha. It is an NGO exclusively meant for women. Although, it was initiated in l976, its presence was visible only since 1965. This NGO be1ieves in the concept of simple living and high thinking. TMSS was also involved in the social forestry programme particularly in the Northern districts of Bangladesh. The organisation has been implementing both road side and farm forestry with assistance from the WFP and Swiss Development Corporation (SDC) respectively.
POUSH: Another NGO has been engaged in planting in the private lands also by persuading the owner farmers in Baroibari, Kaliakoir thana with the food aid from WFP. Its activities in the forestry field are limited to strip plantations and it plans to expand its programme extensively. Target groups of POUSH are mostly landless destitute, widow and divorced women. POUSH also happens to be the first of its kind to get involved in participatory forestry in the hill district of Bandarban.
Problems and prospects of participatory forest management
Considering the demand and supply situation for forest products to meet the economic and environmental needs, no one can deny the need of people’s participation in forestry. Probably there is no second answer except participatory forestry in developing, managing, and protecting the country’s forest land and the forest resource. But there are numbers of issues remain unresolved.
As a technical department, Forest Department is playing pioneer role in implementing and popularizing Participatory Forestry in the country. Up to this time Forest Department is managed by the professional foresters who have educational background only in managing traditional forests and who do not consider people as development partners. Participatory Forestry, if we recollect the Chinese proverb, needs mental development managers towards the people.
Realization has started among the planners, policy makers, administrators and senior managers to involve people in forestry development activities. But up to this time Government has failed to adopt real Participatory Forestry programme to address the basic need of the peoples.
Mobilization of the people in participatory forestry programme is another bottleneck of the Forest Department who has not had the machinery to reach the community people. NGOs who work at the grassroots level have developed their own expert to mobilize people and ensure their participation in any development programmes as partner. So NGO should be involved in the implementation of the participatory forestry programme where Forest Department should confine their activities only in technical aspect. In the context of Bangladesh, the scarcity of land is a most vital problem.
On the other hand, Forest Department controlling over 16% of the total land area of the country is still hesitant to allow Participatory Forestry in reserved forest areas. According to FD, it should be confined only in public and private lands beyond reserved forest areas through these are devoid of trees. The Participatory Forestry is being practiced in marginal lands which are under administration control of other Government departments.
Recently, due to pressure from planners and donor communities, Forest Department has allowed to practice participatory forestry in Sal Forest areas. Tenure of the contract was found as a bottleneck for implementing Participatory Forestry. Forest Department allowed rights of participants over these lands for a period of seven years, but there was a strong desire, that this tenure should more and at least for rotation period, so that participants can manage and protect trees till harvesting.
A negative attitude was also observed among the Foresters to involve women in forestry activities. They viewed that activities of women should be confined in the areas where there is a locality apprehending the social problems. But in participatory forestry both men and women should be treated equally.
• All vacant areas within existing forests which is about 50% of the total forest areas should be brought under tree cover immediately to make total forest areas 25%.
• Use of organic fertilizer should be encouraged to people as alternative use of fuel wood and burning of cow dung and agro residues should be reduced.
• The forest policy of 1994 needs a fundamental change to make participatory forestry approach as a core concept for social fencing against forest destruction and for poverty alleviation through income generation.
• An independent Forest Policy needs to be formulated to promote Participatory Forestry in the country.
• For implementing Participatory Forestry programme, Land as an input is to be ensured with authority. Preset land lease system is neither responsive nor effective for practicing Participatory Forestry in the country. Tenurial rights of land in-stead of land use right is to be given to the participants.
• To make effective participation of the people on a sustained basis, sufficient motivation is required and this responsibility must be given to the NGOs.
• Involvement of the groups in planning and decision making is to be ensured through proper policy directions.
• Provision should be made for giving subsistence to the participants so that they can survive and keep confined their activities in the programme.
• A National forum where there will be representation all from Government politicians, NGOs and private sector. They will act as a coordination body to coordinate among all the participants like land owning agency, NGO, Forest Department and the participants.
• NGO should act as a catalyst and they should not be treated as a competitor of Forest Department.
• Process of recruiting NGOs by inviting tender for implementing any Participatory Forestry programme of the Government must be avoided. ADAB may be given the responsibility to identify the NGOs for a particular programme implementation.
• Major reforestation and afforestation programmes with community participation in a profit sharing basis and improvement in technology and management of plantation are required.
• Institutional capacity, policy and legal framework of forestry management should be strengthened.
• Forestry professiona1s should be trained in environmentally sound forestry.
• Implementation strategies for community management of forestry resources should be developed.
Bangladesh has a small land base and a large population. Area under tree cover is small and shrinking. Some forest areas are located in inaccessible areas. It is important that whatever area is for planting, should be brought under such practice in an organized fashion. Through intensive manipulation of crops, it is to increase production per unit of land substantially. If such is the importance of forests, of trees, in the ecology and the economy of a country, and therefore in the lives of its people, it is very urgent to manage the resources.
Traditionally, forest has remained the function of only the forest department. A change of this attitude is essential and development, management and production of forest should become the function of the entire population of the country, not only for ensuring improved supply of wood but also for the maintenance of a quality environment.