Term ‘social forestry’ was first used by National Commission on Agriculture in 1976.
National Forest Policy, 1988 to encourage a need-based and time bound programme of afforestation and tree planting through afforestation, social forestry & farm forestry with involvement of local communities.
Social forestry is a concept or mission and a program that aims at providing social, economic and environmental security to the people especially those who are poor and more so to the downtrodden, by involving them as beneficiaries right form the planting stage to the harvesting stage. It envisages the use of village land, community land, wasteland and degraded land to raise crops that will be useful for the community as a whole.
Social forestry also aims at raising plantations by the common man so as to meet the growing demand for timber, fuel wood, fodder, etc, thereby reducing the pressure on the traditional forest area. Social forestry in India took place in the form of farm forestry. Farm forestry has two components:–
(i) Peripheral Planting: it involves the planting of the forest at the edge of the farm. The selected trees were of mulberry.
- Requires little amount of space
- It acted as an umbrella for the farm
- It was used to improve the productivity of marginal lands
- Judicial selection of the trees helps and encourages the biological pest control
- The shadow reduced the productivity
- The leaf litter derived there called for some type of weed control.
(ii) Block Planting- planting into a block rather than a big long row.
- It helps to utilize the farmers’ fields which have reduced to agricultural efficiency
- It provides substantial income to the farmers
- It has a mono-cultural plantation that provides nutrition deficiency.
- Eucalyptus trees planted under this were responsible for the lowering of the water table.
However, Social foresting program of government dominated by bureaucracy eliminated wider participation of people in their own programme. Lack of land use policy and market for minor produce of beneficiaries further accentuated the problem.