Assisted Natural Regeneration, Biodiversity & Livelihoods

January 26, 2018 | Author: Pranab Ranjan Choudhury | Category: Deforestation, Forestry, Conservation Biology, Forests, Sowing
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This paper was presented in a Workshop on "Biodiversity Conservation with Stakeholder Participation ' organized...


Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods through Assisted Natural Regeneration – An Analysis of Current Processes and Scope of Refinement A.K. Bansal, M.G. Gogate and P.R. Choudhury

Abstract Assisted/Aided Natural Regeneration (ANR) forms the major strategy under the National Afforestation Plan (NAP) and externally aided forestry projects to enrich degraded forest land. However, unlike as its name suggests and the way it is practiced in South-east Asia, ANR is often interpreted as a plantation model in India. Review of ANR practices undertaken in Maharashtra from secondary sources and in Orissa from primary sources reveals considerable gaps between ANR prescriptions and practices. Ongoing ANR approaches are also not in line with the policy shifts in the forestry sector towards participation, local livelihoods and biodiversity conservation. To bridge these gaps and to aid the process of Joint Forest Management (JFM), a refined process to ANR planning has been developed in the Orissa Forestry Sector Development Project (OFSDP). The step-by-step process developed through stakeholder interactions follows a diagnostic and design approach with the involvement of the community, the Forest Department and the non governmental organization (NGO) partner. The process relies upon use of griddemarcated Geographic Information System (GIS), maps, local ecological knowledge and silvicultural prescriptions. Through different steps, eco-livelihoods characterization of the grids, collaborative logical species prioritization matrix and grid-wise treatment plans are developed with stakeholder participation. Concerns of livelihoods and biodiversity conservation are addressed through promotion of non timber forest products (NTFPs) along with shrubs, tubers, herbs and climbers, and shifting focus from what-to cut to what not to cut. This process also provides scope to formalize role of communities and NGOs in forest planning and management.

Introduction Degradation of forests continues to cause serious problems worldwide and deforestation now is the second largest anthropogenic source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) (2009). A variety of measures have been tried to address these problems at different levels, with varying degrees of success, the more recent being the options around Reduced Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). Communities around the world have also shown their ingenuity in manipulating forests and ecological succession to reverse the process of deforestation, evidence of which includes the ‘Slash and Char’ (Biochar/Tera preta) system practiced by the pre-Columbian Amazonian community to recent community forestry movements in Orissa, India (Singh, et al., 2005). Assisted or Aided Natural Regeneration (ANR), based on principles of secondary succession and supplemented with traditional knowledge and involvement of the local community, is an important option employed in India and South-east Asia to rehabilitate the degraded tropical forests through augmenting natural regeneration and enrichment plantations. In South-east Asia, ANR is regarded as a flexible approach to reforestation. It uses the natural regeneration of forest trees (“wildlings” or natural seedlings, and sprouts) and “assists” natural regeneration to grow faster through tending operations. In the Philippines, it utilizes natural processes and promotes regeneration of indigenous

species for restoring degraded forests covered by Imperata cylindrica grass (Dugan, et al., 2002). The key elements of ANR in the Philippines are: fire control, restricted grazing, suppression of Imperata growth and involvement of local people (Ganz and Durst, 2003). In Indonesia, TPTI (a silvicultural system utilizing selective cutting and natural regeneration) as a form of ANR has laid out a number of trees to be retained at different age groups during ANR operation, for example, retaining a minimum of 25, 200, 1,600 and 20,000 per hectare (ha) of evenly distributed nuclei trees, pole-size trees, saplings and seedlings, respectively. Enrichment planting with tending operations is carried out for sites with insufficient number of poles, saplings, seedlings (i.e., open canopy) (Soegiri and Pramono, 2003). Where such a plantation of additional trees is relied upon as per need, ANR is also referred to as “accelerated natural regeneration” (Ganz and Durst, 2003). ANR technologies in South-east Asia comprise site selection, site assessment, sitespecies matching, site modification such as shade opening, supplemental or enrichment planting of appropriate species, protection and maintenance, and monitoring (Sajise, 2003). Table 1: Advantages of ANR in South-east Asia Aspects Economic Ecological (biodiversity and local ecological knowledge perspectives)

Advantages Faster and cheaper; not necessary to establish nursery Promotes and conserves biodiversity; maintains the original vegetation stand and corresponding ecosystem functions; maintains the integrity of the soil and involves minimum soil disturbance; promotes hydrologic integrity and biotic functions; promotes use of indigenous knowledge (IK); helps blending of traditional knowledge with modern scientific forestry

Social (community participation, empowerment and livelihoods perspectives)

Treats local communities as an integral part; labor intensive, provides employment for the local community; promotes empowerment if IK and traditional institutions are used and valued; effective in remote locations where government approaches have not been very successful

Source: Sajise (1989), Ganz and Durst (2003), Walpole (2003), Butic and Ngidlo (2003)

Unlike in the Philippines, ANR in India is treated as a tool for afforestation. It forms the dominant component of the National Afforestation Plan (NAP), the flagship afforestation program of the Government of India (GOI). NAP aims to support and accelerate the ongoing process of devolving forest protection, management and development functions to decentralized institutions of Joint Forest Management Committee (JFMC) at the village level, and Forest Development Agency (FDA) at the forest division level. It has covered a total area of 1.58 million ha during 2001-09 spread

over 795 FDAs at a cost of Rs. 2,675.26 crore (GOI, 2009a). ANR also forms the major strategy for rehabilitation of forest land under externally aided forestry projects being operated in 11 states of India at an investment of Rs. 5,577 crore (GOI, 2009b). Under NAP and externally aided projects, ANR is primarily viewed as a plantation model with focus on planting of a fewer number of trees (e.g., 200 plants per ha in NAP and 300 plants per ha in Orissa Forestry Sector Development Project (OFSDP)) in comparison to other block plantation models (for example, bamboo and mixed plantations, etc., with 625-1,100 plants/ha). Provisions for soil moisture conservation works and ensuring community participation through awareness raising and micro planning, etc., also exist under ANR and other plantation models in NAP (GOI, 2002). While, in India, ANR is being adopted as an approach of afforestation through Joint Forest Management (JFM), the three decade long experience in South-east Asia demonstrates it to be a reforestation tool with embedded socio-ecological concerns. The importance and scale of ANR interventions (almost three-fourths of the total investment and area under NAP and externally aided project) in India and the need for it to be aligned along the current forest policy paradigms (GOI, 1988; MoEF, 1990; GOI, 2002) towards enhanced community participation, livelihoods and biodiversity conservation, make it imperative to analyze the current approaches and field practices of ANR in India. Such an analysis is essential not only to delineate the scope for its refinement to suit policy concerns, but also to suggest enabling processes and methods to support field implementation. As such the broad objective of this study is to analyze the current ANR paradigms in India from field perspectives and to suggest a methodology for desired implementation by the field practitioners (cutting edge staff of the Forest Department and communities) in the JFM framework. Methodology As per the objectives, to analyze the current processes as well as to suggest approaches for refinement of field practices, a two-fold methodology is adopted. NAP and bilateral forestry projects being two vehicles of ANR implementation, review of the ongoing field practices under these two different situations has been carried out. ANR field practices under NAP have been summarized by drawing upon an unpublished evaluation report in Maharashtra of a GOI commissioned assignment. The second author was involved in this study carried out by SEVAK in 2008. The ANR situation in the bilateral forestry project is summarized from experiences in Orissa with Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and OFSDP. The methodology for the second objective is participatory development of an implementable refined ANR process through two years of regular and close interaction and analysis of the field situations and stakeholders’ (the Forest Department, the non government organization (NGO) and the community) perception. The authors as the project director and consultant are instrumental in conceptualizing, designing and demonstrating the refined approach. Results

ANR field practices: NAP experiences in Maharashtra (SEVAK, 2008) The ANR model was proposed to be implemented in 39 Forest Development Agencies (FDAs), over an area of 21,495 ha, with a canopy density more than 40 percent. Of this, 12,269.50 ha was covered during 2003-06 in 32 FDAs. The study covered a sample of 795 ha of ANR area (7 percent of the total ANR area) spread in 30 villages including 13 tribal villages with an objective to gauge effectiveness of ANR in restoring forests with cost effectiveness while fulfilling community needs. Table 2: Status of Different Elements of ANR under NAP in the Field in Maharashtra Elements of ANR Status in the Field Community Participation Better participation in protection (70%), followed by in implementation (60%) and in micro-planning (30%) Choice of Species More as per technical suitability (90%) followed by villagers’ requirement (80%) and as per microplan (60%) Survival and Growth Average survival is 65%; 442 no. of woody stems (> 30 cm girth at breast height) per ha out of which 62% were existing trees Soil Moisture Carried out only in 25% villages Conservation Site Selection 10% villages were not suitable with > 40% canopy density Silvicultural Not matching to working plan prescriptions; tending Prescriptions operations have not encouraged upcoming natural regeneration to establish; mechanical work without consideration of variations in local situations Support to Local Only through wage labor; no conscious mechanism to Livelihoods augment regeneration and growth of livelihoods species Use of Local Ecological No mechanism to use the LEK Knowledge (LEK) Conservation/ Promotion No direct provisions of Biodiversity The study has outlined conditions for effective ANR implementations. The ideal site for ANR is forest area with coppice root stocks and/or 300 standing trees (>30 centimeter (cm) girth at breast height (GBH)) per ha apart from having a minimum crown density of 40 percent. Treatment maps are to be prepared by Forest Department officials with 0.5 ha blocks laid on ground and serially numbered. The map should highlight areas needing soil moisture conservation treatment, blocks for seed sowing and the place for live hedge fencing. No planting is suggested in blocks having 150 or more standing trees. Alignment of pits is to be done at 7 x 7 meter (m) for blocks having 100-149 standing trees over 30 cm GBH and at 5 x 5 m for blocks with less than 100 standing trees having GBH above 30 cm. Silvicultural operations like cleaning of brush wood,

dressing of old stools, coppicing of root stock, and singling and alignment for planting are be done in January-February. Seed sowing in bushes is to be adopted in the blocks with less than 30 standing trees. ANR field practices: bilateral project experiences in Orissa In Orissa, the ANR approach was first used in the SIDA assisted social forestry project during the early 1990s with the involvement of the village forest committee. Now it is applied to the Rehabilitation of Degraded Forests (RDF) through the JFM mode and is aimed at augmenting productivity of fuel wood, fodder, small poles, non timber forest products (NTFPs), medicinal plants, etc. Afforestation through ANR covers about 75,000 ha of degraded forest area in Orissa under different schemes during 2007-09, according to the Government of Orissa (GOO) (2009). In the bilateral OFSDP ( assisted by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), ANR forms the major forest treatment intervention. Eighty percent of 1.76 lakh ha of degraded forests around more than 2,000 forest-fringe villages are covered through ANR following the JFM approach (OFSDP, 2007). ANR in OFSDP was designed to facilitate natural regeneration of degraded forests with existing rootstocks. It is prescribed to be carried out through singling of coppice shoots, removal of high stumps and climbers apart from planting of short rotation economic species like NTFPs and medicinal plants (@ 300 plants/ha) in gaps to incentivize the Van Samrakshyan Samiti (VSS) or JFMC (SAPROF, 2005). In OFSDP, forest treatment is planned through blending of the top-bottom Geographic Information System (GIS) approach by professionals with the bottom-up participatory micro-planning by the community. Three sets of GIS maps (1:5000 scales) are developed for each VSS site to provide detailed information about the area (base map – location, boundary and topography), land use (agriculture, forest, orchard, rocky outcrops etc.) and forest maps (canopy density, forest type, major species, stage of crop, slope and drainage lines, etc.). In the maps, grids of 4 ha in (200 m x 200 m) are demarcated to help better map interpretation and treatment planning, implementation and monitoring. These maps help in preparation of site-specific, community-focussed forest treatment plan through participatory micro-planning. Despite these provisions, the project’s internal monitoring processes comprising regular field visits, stakeholder interactions and review workshops over a two-year period found the following gaps (Table 3) in planning and implementation of forest treatment in general, and of ANR, in particular. Table 3: Practices and Gaps in ANR in OFSDP as per Internal Monitoring Aspect Principles

Practice Preference towards revenue and timber oriented forestry and departmental execution by

Gap Shift in forest policy and priorities towards participation and biodiversity conservation not





Practice cutting edge staff; community participate mostly as wage labor Restoration of degraded forests with green cover and revenue generation; more national focus Promoting regeneration and growth of timber species like Sal (Shorea robusta) and some associates Influence of target in planning treatment area independent of site conditions; dominant decision by department staff

Enrichment Plantation

Preference to planting and compartmental approach – block planting all seedlings (300/ha) meant for entire ANR area in in gap(s) @1,600 plants/ha Choice of Preference towards nonSpecies browsable, fire hardy, fast growing, light demanding tree species with easy seed availability and known nursery and silvilcultural techniques Tending Singling of coppice shoots and Operations stool cleaning of timber species; cleaning and climber-cutting of non-timber species (including trees, climbers, shrubs and herbs) Soil Compartmental approach; Moisture preference to comparatively Conservation high cost structures like check dams Results Creation of even-aged singlestoried pure crop, often congested stands of Sal with no

Gap appreciated by the cutting edge staff of the Forest Department Local livelihood needs get subdued; increasing economic value of NTFPs not considered Neglecting regeneration and growth of non-timber livelihoods species and biodiversity GIS maps and forest Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) tools not consulted adequately; involvement of community and other stakeholders limited in planning; potential local ecological knowledge not tapped Neglecting seeding and planting of wildling; site-specific treatment through dispersed plantation not followed

Neglecting livelihoods species which may be shrubs, climbers, herbs, etc., and slow growing, shade bearers/demanders, browsable, etc.

No targeted tending operations to promote natural regeneration of non-timber livelihoods species, e.g., no climber cutting of livelihoods species like Bahuinia vahlii; no provision for thinning in subsequent years No dispersed treatment as per site requirement; ridge to valley system not followed; bunding, trenching and use of vegetative options limited From ecological and biodiversity perspectives inferior in comparison to mixed uneven aged multi-storied



Practice other storey and ground cover resulting in soil and biodiversity erosion

Gap forest; often additional investments are put for ex-situ conservation of biodiversity, while through ANR cleaning, in-situ biodiversity is removed Peer pressure towards higher Lack of monitoring on livelihoods survival and growth; preference and biodiversity implication; more towards teak as economic attention to target than the process plantations; influenced by limits incentive for participation; approachability and difficulty in monitoring area and detectability locating treatments in a site

Participatory development of refined ANR process To overcome the gaps in ANR planning and implementation, a refined approach to ANR in the form of a user friendly implementation process was required. Accordingly, a draft process to carry out ANR in the field was developed and was demonstrated at four different circles (forest administration units consisting of few forest divisions) during February-March 2009. This was followed up by consultations with forest officials from the field. Based on the feedback from demonstration and consultation process, a protocol for refined ANR implementation has been developed. The refined approach seeks to augment forest-based livelihoods and to promote biodiversity conservation through multi-stakeholder participation. It follows a diagnosis and design approach through different steps and uses a combination of restrain (not to fell) and enrichment (planting/seeding) to meet its objective. The refined ANR process The team and materials: The project has delineated a working group comprising members of the VSS, the Forest Department, the partner NGO of the project and local resource persons (OFSDP, 2007b). Eight members of this working group along with partner NGO team members and Member Secretary (Forester) will form two teams of five members each to develop ANR treatment. They will take about two days to survey the forest area of an average 80 ha (divided into 20 four-ha grids) allotted to each VSS under JFM. The materials required include grid-demarcated GIS (land use and forest) maps of the site, forest-PRA outputs of the micro plan of the VSS, 30 m tape and/or Günter chain and a simple compass. Step 1 (area diagnosis): The first step is about comprehensive diagnosis of the forest area to be treated through the use of grid-marked (4 ha grids of 200 m X 200 m size) GIS maps, multi-stakeholder grid transact walks and use of silvicultural and community knowledge. Each grid is allocated with a unique identity (rows are numbered alphabetically and columns with Arabic numbers) as per its location in the matrix. In this step, the teams take transact walks along the marked grid lines (Figure 1) to assess

and characterize each grid in terms of its canopy density, ecological status, livelihoods potential, important species in different storeys and dominant age group. The team also suggests tending and soil conservation measures for each grid as per its observation. All this information is recorded in a tabular format. (Format 1). Domina nt age group (Young –below pole or bearing stage or old)

Suggest ed Tendin g Operati ons includi ng Specific Treatm ent for Bambo o

Status of Soil Erosi on (shee t, rills, gullie s, ravin es etc.)

SMC measur es suggest ed (trench ing, gully plug etc.)


Format 1: Eco-livelihood Description of the Grids Sl Densi Ecologic Livelih Importa No ty (> al Status ood nt of 70%, or Type Potenti species the 40-70 of al (menti Grid %, Forest/ (rich, on at s 10-40 Plantati mediu least 2 (Mar %, on m, import k
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