Socio-economic issues in forest management in India
India's forest policy regime enacted so far had alienated the common users of their property rights in the name of forest and wildlife conservation. However, poor conservation outcomes have forced planners to reconsider the role of the forest community in resource use and conservation. Presence of a deep-rooted economic, social, cultural and ethical difference between members of Forest Protection Committee (FPC) constrains group behaviour and their capacity to modify regulations governing resource use. This paper studies the forest policy regimes of India in detail and seeks to investigate the influence of emerging socio-economic issues towards formulating a more robust and sustainable future forest policy by selecting the district of Bankura in West Bengal, India, as a study area, where forest protection regime is practiced rigorously for nearly two decades. The exercise reveals that tribal populations are reluctant to be non-workers and prefer to protect the forest by being a stakeholder in the process of Joint Forest Management (JFM). Thus formulating a more egalitarian distributive JFM mechanism for sharing of benefits fairly across the resource users requires cognizance of collective-choice rule used and the type of heterogeneity existing in the community.
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