POLICY INITIATIVES

1.BIODIVERSITY AND GENETIC RESOURCE CONSERVATION:

            Tamil Nadu has 22,877 sq. km. of recorded forest area, which amounts to 17.59% of the geographical area of the State. As per the assessment of the Forest Survey of India (India State of Forest Report, 2015), the forest cover of the State is 26,345 sq. km. constituting 20.25% of the State’s geographical area. This is because Forest Cover of the State got increased by 2501 sq. km.  during the period 2013-15. The forest and tree cover of the State now is 30,850 sq. km. which constitutes 23.72% of the total geographical area of the State as against 33% forest and tree cover to be achieved as mandated in the National Forest Policy, 1988. The facets of biodiversity and genetic conservation include:

      1.1 Improving Forest Productivity and Growing Stock:

The ecological health of the State is an indication of its economic and social health. The State of Tamil Nadu has a rich array of biodiversity, this includes wide range of trees, herbs, shrubs locked in the rich forests of Western and Eastern Ghats. Thus there is an enormous potential in the State to enhance the growing stock in the Forests by improving the genetic resource and providing appropriate technical and material input to contribute towards augmenting the social and ecological security by:-

  • Identifying economically important tree resources and improving their stock.
  • Adoption of better planting stock and improved silvicultural management.
  • Protection and Conservation for Rare, Endangered and Threatened species.
  • Restoration and improvement in the quality of forests for enhanced ecosystem services.

      1.2 Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation:

Tamil Nadu has been a pioneer State in the Protected Area management and development of forest resources and wildlife. The total area under the protected area management is 7,072.95 sq. km. which comes to 30.92% of the State’s Forest area. The Protected Areas in the State includes 5 National parks, 15 Wildlife sanctuaries, 15 bird sanctuaries and 2 conservation reserves besides 4 Tiger Reserves viz. Anamalai,  Kalakkad-Mundanthurai, Mudumalai and Sathyamangalam. These Protected Areas have been established under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Further Tamil Nadu also has the distinction of having 3 Biosphere Reserves viz. Nilgiris, Gulf of Mannar and Agasthiarmalai, which are internationally acclaimed for their rich and unique biodiversity. The Western Ghats are one of the 25 global hotspots and one of the 3 mega centers of endemism in India. The genetic assemblage of Tiger Reserves, Mukurthi, Srivilliputhur, Kanniyakumari and Megamalai owe their richness in flora and fauna to their locations in Western Ghats. The Biodiversity Conservation and Rural Livelihood Improvement Project pursued at Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve is a new endeavor in perusing conservation at landscape level, covering five districts namely, Kanniyakumari, Tirunelveli, Virudhunagar, Madurai and Theni.  The State proposes to improve wildlife wealth through the following practices:  

  • To improve the wildlife habitats by extending and strengthening the area wherever required and ensuring connectivity of habitats.
  • Management of wildlife resources at Landscape level with better Inter-State Coordination.
  • Harness the sentiments of tribal and forest dwellers in wildlife management while ensuring livelihood security.
  • Efforts to protect the migratory birds and to conserve their habitats.
  • Conservation of Wetlands for Avian fauna.
  • Inventory of Biodiversity for Bio-prospecting.
  • Understanding the lesser known diversity for conservation gains.

       1.3 Addressing Human Wildlife Conflict and Mitigation Measures:

The Forest department will initiate measures that benefit both the wildlife and local human communities, enabling mutually beneficial co-existence. The following policy initiatives will be taken to address Human wildlife conflicts and its mitigation:

  • Surveillance of vulnerable areas and monitoring of wildlife habitats.
  • Mitigation measures to prevent  Human wildlife conflicts
  • GIS enabled information and technology driven system for monitoring of wildlife habitats to reduce human wildlife conflicts.
  • Sensitizing the inhabitants and locals through modern tools and technologies.
  • Timely distribution of benefits to win confidence of people.
  • Protocols for the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife straying out of forest areas.
  • Strengthening the veterinary services for wildlife through Rapid Response Teams and Mobile Veterinary Units.

       1.4 Strengthening of Ex-situ Conservation:

The Central Zoo Authority of India recognizes Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Vandalur, Chennai; Children's Park, Guindy, Chennai; Amirthi Zoo, Vellore; Kurumbapatti Zoological Park, Salem and Tiruchirappalli Zoo. The policy envisages:

  • Conservation of rare, endangered and threatened species through captive breeding programmes.
  • To create awareness for conservation support through outreach and education
  • To scale up veterinary research for providing solutions for wildlife health and upkeep.
  • To create a network of all Zoological and Butterfly Parks in the State for exchange of good practices.
  • To seek Public Support for adoption of wild animals in captivity.
  •  To provide highest standard of veterinary care to all the animals in captivity and in the Rescue Centres.

      1.5 To Conserve and Protect Marine Bio-diversity in the Gulf of Mannar:

The key coastal habitats in the Gulf of Mannar are coral reefs, seagrass and mangroves. These habitats are some of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on Earth. Marine ecosystems of Tamil Nadu, provide the livelihoods for many local fishing communities in the Gulf of Mannar coast, besides acting as buffer for adjacent shorelines from strong waves, help prevent erosion, property damage and loss of life. The Gulf of Mannar Trust has added to the State’s effort in the conservation of marine biodiversity ensuring the livelihood security of the people along the coast line. To achieve significant improvement in the conservation of marine biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources in marine and coastal ecosystems of the State, the policy envisages:

  • Conservation and protection of marine biodiversity by promoting sustainable use and equitable sharing of marine resources.
  • Enhance the quality of marine habitat with the help of local communities.

      1.6 To check the growth of Invasive Species and adverse impact on Forests:

The growth of invasive species in the forest ecosystems of Tamil Nadu has resulted in loss of biodiversity, loss of native flora and fauna, adverse ecological impacts, economic and social losses, increased soil erosion and choking of water bodies besides changes in water and soil properties. It is utmost important to check the growth of invasive species in order to create ecological security in the State. The policy envisages:

  • To carry out site specific coordinated invasive species removal programmes.
  • To control, remove the invasive species and bring the affected areas invaded by weeds to near natural forests status.

2.INCREASING TREE COVER OUTSIDE FORESTS:

Tree Cover outside Forests is the single most important and cost effective strategy for achieving the goal of 33% forest and tree cover as envisaged in the National Forest Policy of 1988. There is a need to create a positive environment towards tree planting in Tamil Nadu by creating partnership with people particularly farmers, landowners and institutions to promote local communities to take a lead role in the cultivation of trees which in turn will lead to poverty reduction. 

      

2.1 Agro-forestry for Food and Wood Security:

The Forest Department’s initiative of Tree Cultivation in Private Lands is further strengthened under the Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Conservation and Greening  Project (TBGP) and has motivated farmers to raise commercial timber generating tree species in their lands and has also educated farmers about the scope of Agroforestry and Plantation forestry. These plantations with the intercrops provide wood and food security to the farming community. Through this programme the land will be brought under additional tree crops for the following benefits:

  •  As mitigation measures for climate resilience.
  • To increase farm income through trees resources.
  • Providing raw materials to wood based industries.
  • Creating new avenues for rural employment and to reduce pressure on the forests.

      2.2  Cultivation of Medicinal Plants and Women Empowerment:

Overexploitation of Medicinal Plants having high market value in Forests needs to be discouraged. The department considers medicinal plant conservation as a priority programme for sustainable harvest of medicinal plants simultaneously creating opportunities for women empowerment. The policy envisages:

  • To provide opportunities for cultivation of medicinal plants enabling sustainable harvest by empowering rural women.
  • To provide necessary technical knowhow for cultivation of identified medicinal plant species and for sustainable harvest.

     2.3   Social Forestry to meet the growing demand of timber:

The social forestry programmes with stronger linkage, enabling communities to meet the livelihood needs for better life support is one of the major aims of the Tamil Nadu forest department.  Social forestry programme in the State will be implemented with the purpose of taking the pressure off the forests and making use of all unused and fallow lands to meet the growing demand for timber, fuel wood and fodder by initiating following actions:

  • Afforestation of non-forest lands including Government fallow lands and other waste lands, besides Railway, Panchayat and PWD lands. 
  • The Social Forestry Programmes will effectively interface in organizing Tree planting outside forests besides outreach and publicity programmes.

      2.4  Urban Forestry:

The role of forests in ameliorating urban habitats of the State with the active participation of local bodies, and various other departments has tremendous scope in the State of Tamil Nadu. Trees planted under the programme will act as source for removal of atmospheric pollutants; stabilize soil, groundwater recharge, besides biodiversity conservation and would add to carbon sequestration. The policy envisages:

  • The Forest Department will take up planting along Highways to increase the green cover in the State.
  • Specific urban planting programmes would aim to provide livelihood security.
  •  Help to mitigate the rising temperature onslaught.

3.FOREST PROTECTION:

      3.1 Consolidation and Protection of Forest Resources

The Forest Settlement Process is an effort to regulate and protect the land at the disposal of the government, wherein the intention to declare such land as forests has already been notified. The settlement and consolidation of forest areas will help to increase the forest and tree cover of the State to 33% as envisaged in the National Forest Policy, 1988.  To consolidate and protect the existing forest resources, the policy vision shall be achieved by:

  • Survey and demarcation of Forest Boundaries, in a phased manner and by construction of boundary cairns besides maintenance of existing cairns.
  • The MIS/GIS database of the Department would be strengthened to speed up and monitor the forest consolidation works.
  • Mangroves, Coastal, Wetlands, Compensatory Afforestation Lands to be consolidated by fixing their boundaries.
  • The provisions of National Working Plan Code 2014 and the management plan code will guide the consolidation process.

       3.2 Incentivizing Communities for Forest Protection:

Over the last two decades a profound change has been witnessed in the forest ecosystems. Community based management institutions are increasingly being considered for equitable, efficient and effective implementation of protection of forest resources. The capacity building by the forest department of Tamil Nadu through community based approach will facilitate the local people to become partners in forest protection by:

  •  Incentivizing Conservation and Sustainable Management of Forests.
  • Protecting the natural resource base of rare and endangered species, through involvement of communities and incentivizing them for protection of such critically endangered and vulnerable species.
  • Building capacity of communities towards forest protection and better management.

       3.3 Preserving Forest Health:   

Healthy forest Ecosystems are essential for sustainable forest management. The policy envisages mainstreaming measures in the State to control forest fires, Insect and diseases and lessening the impact of extreme weather events. The policy envisages:

  • Providing real time information and control of forest fire through enhanced scientific support.
  • Building Capacity to detect entomological and pathological malfunctioning in the trees and provide for immediate ameliorative measures.
  • The Rapid Response Teams to respond immediately in the event of crisis in the forests and its vicinity. 

4. CONSERVING WATER PRODUCTION LANDSCAPES:

      

4.1River Catchment Protection and Watershed Management:

Wetlands, water bodies, Rivers, Check dams, and other man made water structures shall be protected to conserve and enhance major water production landscapes. The extent of the wetlands is important for flood control and efforts will be made to protect the wetlands of the State.The policy recognizes that wetlands of the State have potential to improve water quality, attenuate floods, protect shorelines and provide habitat for varied species of flora and fauna. The policy envisages:

  • Augmenting conjunctive water production landscapes in forest areas to rejuvenate river catchments.
  • State Wetland Conservation Authority to lay down policy guidelines for conservation of wetlands, for achieving water security in the State.
  • Integrated and coordinated development of surface water to improve the quality of water sources in the watersheds to benefit the dependent villages.
  • To augment water quality in acquifers.
  • To reduce soil erosion and inculcate a culture of water conservation.

5. TRIBAL WELFARE AND DEVELOPMENT:

      

5.1 Skill Development of Tribal Communities:

The Forest Department will assist in improving the tribal livelihoods by creating opportunities for skill development promoting alternative sources of employment by taking the following measures:  

  • To generate alternate sources of income through skill development.
  • Building capacity for tribal livelihood for the access and benefit sharing from forest resources.
  • Creating maximum educational and vocational opportunities for the tribals.
  • Empower the tribals including women so that they become self-reliant.

6. ENHANCING CLIMATE RESILIENCE IN FORESTS:

The effects of climate change, including increase in temperature, changes in precipitation patterns, rising sea levels and increased frequency of weather related anomalies will create risks for forests, wildlife, marine and terrestrial ecosystems in the State. Many of the services that forests provide may become vulnerable on account of climate change. Therefore the State shall strive for ecosystem based adaptation to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change by:

  • Societal adaptation to climate change by supporting communities, local knowledge and technologies that promote conservation of forests.
  • To enhance ecosystem resilience in landscapes and seascapes, through scientific interventions.

7. ECOTOURISM:

     

7.1 Forest Department to play pivotal role in Ecotourism in Forests and Wildlife Areas.

Tamil Nadu has a great tradition of conserving its forests and environment, which is intricately and historically linked with its culture. The forest department proposes to capitalise on this advantage by promoting ecotourism as a responsible travel to natural areas without disturbing the ecology and natural habitats. The Department will strive to manage ecotourism sites within the forest and wildlife areas by:

  • Adopting low impact tourism that ensures ecological integrity of wilderness.
  • To highlight the heritage value of Tamil Nadu’s Forests, and Wildlife.
  • Facilitate the sustainability of ecotourism enterprises in ecotourism management.  

8. SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF FOREST FRINGE VILLAGES:

     

8.1 To Create Opportunities for Sustainable Livelihoods:

The people in forest fringe villages are dependent on forests for their wood, food, water and livelihood security. The reduction of marketable Non Timber Forest Produce like fruits, flowers, berries, tubers, resins, honey, leaves, creepers and other resources has accentuated the poverty conditions among the forest fringe communities. The people living in the fringe villages have increasingly perceived the Forest Department as an agent of fringe village development in order to gain trust and respect in remote forest fringe villages. The Policy envisages:  

  • To provide sustainable livelihood opportunities to the fringe and forest dwelling communities.
  • To bring about convergence of different schemes for the overall development of forest fringe villages.
  • Revisiting the established institutions of joint forest management and revitalise them for conservation gains.

9.  INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT:

Rapid urbanization and changing technology requires forest Infrastructure to gear up with emerging demands and challenges to match the modern requirements of the Tamil Nadu Forest department. The policy envisages:

  • To strengthen the forest protection measures by using the latest equipments. 
  • To support forests and wildlife conservation by improving infrastructure and communication facilities including roads and bridges.

10. RESEARCH, EDUCATION AND EXTENSION:

Forest department has made remarkable achievements in the areas of forest research, education and extension. The network of research and extension centres in the State has improved by adoption of multitude of activities covering tree improvement, soil science, seed handling, silviculture, bio-fertilizers, education, extending and showcasing technology to support biodiversity conservation and bio-productivity enhancement. The State has 32 Forestry Extension centres to respond to the needs of tree cultivating farmers. Effective dissemination of information to various stakeholders including farmers through training programmes, workshops and publications has enabled to enhance the outreach of the department. The State will promote research, education and extension activities by adopting:

  • Need based Research programmes in tune to support the new forest management practices. 
  • To supply certified quality planting material, seeds, bio-boosters and bio-fertilizers for the forestry programmes.
  • Emphasis on restoration and recovery programmes for rare endangered and endemic species.
  • To provide professional skills for field level functionaries on latest technologies through the Forest Academy and College.
  • Documentation and showcasing of best practices through extension programmes.
  • Children, youth and women to be sensitized to become torchbearers for conservation.

11.MAINSTREAMING, e- GOVERNANCE INITIATIVES:

The management of forests through adoption of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) driven initiatives will be undertaken to induce change Management, simplification of processes including removal of constraints, ownerships and partnerships, scalability and sustainability to achieve interoperable and web based information for better governance. The ICT led initiatives will provide scope for the following:

  • Real time based information for effective forest resource management.
  • Improving Forest Administration and fast track governance through MIS and GIS initiatives.

12.  PLANNING PROCESS TO SUPPORT FOREST MANAGEMENT:

National Working Plan Code 2014 provides for uniformity in forest management planning across the country. The policy envisages streamlining of planning  process for scientific forest management by:

  • Preparing the Working Plans by adopting the provisions of National Working Plan Code 2014.
  • Research based Management Plans for wildlife and protected areas.

13.  HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT:

The Forestry sector in Tamil Nadu is facing new challenges due to increased responsibilities management challenges. Capacity building in the Forest Department needs to be improved and a perspective HRD Plan will be evolved for maximizing the efficiency and the functioning of the department. The perspective plan will pave way for appropriate HRD interventions for the benefit of its personnel. The key areas of interventions are:

  • Plan for Filling up the vacancies through Direct Recruitment, Promotions and Recruitment by transfer in a planned manner will be evolved.
  • Evolving a promotion plan to maintain the Field strength of the Department at optimum level.
  • Re-organization of different cadres for increased output and efficiency. 
  • Capacity building, training and Skill upgradation for field and office staff for gains in management, administrative and governance skills.