Social forestry – UPSC GS1

Examine the differences between social and farm forestry. Explain their importance to India.

Social forestry is, in effect, an integral part of the Gandhian philosophy of economic growth and community development. It was being realized that forests were under pressure because of the growing population, and land was getting degraded due to human activities. So The National Commission on Agriculture of the Indian government used the term “social forestry” for the first time in 1973.
Social Forestry and Farm Forestry:
Social Forestry means the management and protection of forests as well as afforestation of barren lands with purpose of helping in the environmental, Social and rural development. Social forestry is forestry for community development. Thus, it is people oriented, value based management of forests with a major objective of satisfying the needs, wants and aspirations of both the people and the government.
Under Farm forestry, farmers grow trees for commercial and non-commercial purposes on their lands. In Farm forestry tree plantation and management is purely on private lands. Individual farmers are encouraged to plant trees on their own farmland to meet the domestic needs of the family.
Importance of Social and Farm Forestry:
A) Ecological Importance:
  1. They foster ecological balance with proper utilization of farm resources.
  2. They provide efficient conservation of water and soil.
  3. They utilise wasteland and degraded lands.
  4. They induce environmental and tree consciousness among people
  5. They help to reduce pressure on natural forests.
B) Economic Importance:
  1. They meet the local needs for firewood, timber, bamboo, fuel and fodder and other minor forest produce.
  2. They provide employment opportunities to the rural people.
  3. They help to increase in levels of farm income due to improved and sustained productivity.
C). Social Importance:
  1. They develop local cottage industries by providing raw materials.
  2. They help to achieve an all-round rural development as a part of integrated rural development programme.
  3. They provide stabilization in agricultural production.
For a determined adoption of these forestry schemes on private/ communal lands economic incentives will be helpful. These will include supply of seeds and
seedlings free or at a nominal cost, grant of subsidies for tree planting, technical aid, training and briefing on marketing trends, and organization of forest cooperatives.


Critically discuss the importance of social forestry programme in combating climate change. Also comment on its implementation in India. (200 Words)
Social forestry emphasis on development of trees outside the forest. Groups of social forestry:
  1. Farm forestry,
  2. Community forestry,
  3. Extension forestry
  4. Agro-forestry
Objective of social forestry
  1. To decreases dependency on natural forest for fuel wood, poles, timber and fodder.
  2. To create jobs.
  3. To protect environment and aid agriculture.
Advantages of social forestry:
  1. Decrease pressure on natural forest by increases production of timber, fuel wood, fodder etc.
  2. Cover barren lands.
  3. Raw material for pulp industry.
  4. Employment generation in rural areas.
  5. Forest restoration and improve ecological balance.
  6. Help in research.
Importance of social forestry programme in combating climate change.
  1. Increase in carbon stocks.
  2. Act as Co2 sinks.
  3. Mitigates air pollution.
  4. Acts as alternative source of forest , which help in controlling deforestation which in turn reduce contribution of carbon from deforestation.
Implementation in India:
Social forestry started in India mid of 80s with financial assistance of World Bank and European Union. It helped in conservation and afforestation of forest. The forest policy act 1988 supported the social forestry which made it as people‘s movement. Government initiatives to support social forestry like MGNREGA, Silviculture and Forestry Research, Natural Regeneration and Enrichment of Forests etc. and Awareness campaigns like of Van Mahotsava, environment day, wildlife week.



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