HISTORY OF FOREST POLICY:
“A settled course of action by an individual, government or some institution is called a policy.”
Thomas Dye defined policy as, “Whatever the govt chooses to do or not to do is a policy.”
According to Worsel, “A forest policy specifies certain principles regarding the use of a society’s forest resource which, it is felt, will contribute to the achievements of some the objectives of that society.”
All the societies have policies for the use of certain resources. Policies are again at a National level, Provincial level, Regional level, Divisional level, and forest Rangelands as well. National forest policies are notified by the Federal Govt. eg to increase the forest area. The provinces will have to adjust their policies accordingly so that they may coincide with their work with the Federal govt. However the history of Forest Policy reveals that it can be divided into three periods; ie,
- Before British Rule
- During British Rule
- After British Rule
Before British Rule:
Before British rule, there was no scientific policy aimed at the conservation of forests. At that time the concept of property was not developed and the forests (even the whole land) were thought to be owned by kings. However, everybody would cut the forest according to his needs. This was named as “Laissez Faire Policy”
However, a few gardens and hunting grounds were prohibited areas during the Mughal regimes.
The policy lasted until the inception of British rule.
During British Rule:
British rule started in 1843. The administrative machinery was installed in different provinces soon afterward, Sind (1848), Punjab and NWFP (1843-49); there began a settled way of life but still the people were absorbed in small disputes of land and other ownership. Some of them usurped the property of the weak; others wiped out the poor and deprived them of their legacies. Nobody would extend his property due to insecurity. Meanwhile, the people removed forests which forced the rulers to think over it. In 1853, an army captain wrote a report on the Himalayas which held that people used to cut and destroy the forests day by day. Now the British laid out railway lines and communications for administration. Since the railway was the biggest way of communication, it was realized that heavy exploitation of these forests cannot sustain longer. The fuelwood was obtained for the Himalayas.
In 1856 and -57, forest conservancy rules were made for Murree and Hazara respectively. Then the cutting and felling of trees were banned completely unless permitted and no extra land for cultivation was given to people. It was the start of scientific thoughtful principles.
In 1865, the govt developed a ‘Forest Act’. All the offenses were dealt in the courts. It was the first ‘Indian Forest Act’ in which the Govt was empowered to constitute two layers of lands; ie
- Reserve Forest
- Guzara Forest
In 1872, the govt owned two types of forest which were; the Reserved Forests and Guzara Forests. Before this, there was no concept of some scientific way of Mgt. so a working plan was written and in 1st forest policy directive, they made certain basic principles.
A forest policy is actually needed for two major reasons: ie,
- The govt, politicians and the planners are clear about the use or resources. If there is no policy, there are different opinions about the use of that resource.
- Financial approval or availability of finances/ funds is easier.
If no policy, nobody knows the significance and thus the funds are difficult to achieve.
However, there were the following basic principles in Policy Directive of 1894:
- The objective of forest mgt of state forests for the benefits of people.
- Productive forests for timber production ie forests which grow valuable timber should be managed for timber production.
- Forests on watersheds should be preserved and the rights and privileges of people should have 2nd priority.
- Where demand for agriculture justifies, it may be permitted on forest lands (but now it is not beneficial to grow the agricultural crop on forest lands.)
- State-owned woodlands and grazing land should be managed for meeting the requirements of local people.
This results in the development of forest mapping and education in the forestry sector. Thus in 1878 study and forest research was started in Dehra Dun, India.
After British Rule:
The first policy was declared in 1955, then in 1962 and some recommendations in 1975 as well. Recently in 1991, a National Agricultural Policy has been developed which differs from that of 1955 in the respect that the later carried Forest Mgt Plan guidelines.
Moreover, in 1955’s policy the beneficial role of the forest was given priority (first) over the commercial role f the forest. But in 1962’s policy the aim was switched over to the commercial role of forest due to lack of timber. There was declared lines on the soil conservation, w-shed mgt, and range mgt as well.
Unlike 1894, where various uses of forests had been ignored, in 1991 it was mentioned and emphasized that social forests, environmental role of forests, an increase of forest areas, generation of jobs and diversity among the animals as well as plants (biological) should be considered.
NATIONAL ECONOMIC OBJECTIVES OF PAKISTAN, HOW THEY REFLECT THE POLICIES OF PAKISTAN?
Pakistan is a developing country and she has the following objectives of her economy.
Using available resources to the best advantage of society:
- Each nation has some basic resources like land, labor, and capital etc and all these resources should be used for the maximum production (of goods and services eg Changa Manga for timber, fuelwood, and recreation) for the masses. Similarly, for forest resources, we have growing stock (capital), water and land.
Ensuring basic necessities for every citizen:
- Food, shelter, clothing, education, health, and employment are the basic necessities but timber and firewood are also basic requirements for people. Today the prices of wood are high and it has been calculated that in Pakistan the timber prices are two times higher than those in Germany. So we need some planning to make easy for each citizen to use these resources.
Accelerating development of backward areas:
- Third world countries have a problem of shifting rural population towards the urban areas and the citizens now have the headache of planning, construction, and pollution. Need is to stop the influx of people toward cities. The forest resources can also help in this development. Raising the plantations and wood-based industries in rural areas will attract the attention of people. They will get jobs and living.
Increasing per capita income:
Gross National Product (GNP) is the total value of final goods and services in a country.
Per capita Income = GNP / Total population
Per capita income shows the rate of economic prosperity of a society. Pakistan has per capita income of Rs 7000/- means we can consume more, we have more wages and hence more prosperity. This dream can be executed through forestry as well by increasing the forest area and adopting the proper silvicultural system and increasing timber exports.
Decreasing Imports and accelerating Exports:
- A lot of wood products, pulp, etc and may other needs (about 40% wood requirements) are satisfied with imports (mostly from Afghanistan) and the govt sacrifice a lot of money whereas the exports are very few in comparison. Need is to reduce this gap which is our policy.
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NJMH is working as Deputy Conservator of Forests in Balochistan Forest & Wildlife Department (BFWD). He is the CEO of Tech Urdu (techurdu.net) Forestrypedia (forestrypedia.com), Majestic Pakistan (majesticpakistan.pk), All Pak Notifications (allpaknotifications.com), Essayspedia, etc & their YouTube Channels). He is an Environmentalist, Blogger, YouTuber, Developer & Vlogger.