|Ecotourism and other Services Derived from Forests in the Asia- Pacific Region: Outlook to 2010. (FAO - Forestry, 1997)|
|ANNEX - COUNTRY ECOTOURISM NOTES|
Forests form an integral component of Indian culture, religion and folklore. As Raja (n.d.:1) suggests:
Indian epics are strongly based on episodes in forests, portrayed wildlife as holy creatures, and saints led their whole life in huts called ashrams made of wood and leaves. Indians worshipped trees, and their sages meditated under them. Ayurvedic medicine, developed through centuries of knowledge on the medicinal effects of plants, depends on forest trees and herbs to find cures for ailments. Ancient scholars educated and trained their younger generation at their homes situated inside forests, on the basis of which Rabindranath Tagore... founded the open air university at Shantiniketan in more recent times.
Raja (1996) argues that India is approaching stability in forest cover by successfully protecting what is left. He suggests that this is a result of approaching the problem in a variety of different ways, including:
· legal measures, such as the Indian Forest Policy;
· improved forestry research and education, with the development, for example, of the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE);
· technological advancement in forest management, especially in increased capacity for inventory;
· participatory management, including programmes such as Joint Forest Management (JFM), village woodlot programmes and the like (Furze, De Lacy and Birckhead 1996); and
· environmental awareness and NGO activity that has occurred as a general result of environmental concerns being placed on the public agenda.
In the context of partnerships being formed with local people, JFM has been suggested as a successful approach to forest management and the maintenance of a broad range of services of forests. According to Sarin (1993), JFM has seen the development of a number of different local institutions that are concerned with the protection and management of forest areas, including:
· groups emerging out of local initiatives (autonomous village institutions);
· groups promoted and mostly regulated by forest departments under JFM programmes; and
· government or NGO sponsored development groups that have assumed the additional responsibility for forest protection and management.
JFM represents a policy and local development context for the establishment of forest management and protection mechanisms.