India, a biodiversity rich tropical country with 80.90 million hectares of forest and tree cover, now has a country specific FSC Forest Stewardship Standard. This is the first opportunity for Indian forests and plantations to be audited against India-specific indicators of FSC to confirm forests are being managed sustainably with social and economic values considered.
The FSC Forest Stewardship Standard (FSS) for India applies to all categories of Management Units, including small or low intensity managed forests (SLIMFs), operating in all forest types (including natural forests and plantations). It also includes all important plant-based non-timber forest products, as described in section 2.2 ‘Scope’ of the standard. India has 146 million operational land holdings with 86% of these being less than two hectares, including 25 million hectares of agroforestry land mostly owned by smallholders. With the new FSS, these landowners can now access the market with growing demand for FSC timber upon getting certified.
FSC India Country Director Dr. Suresh Gairola is excited about bringing economic benefits, particularly to the smallholders in India, through this standard, stating “India specific standards for responsible forest management will be a watershed for forest management in India because of the benefit to society as a whole by bringing in all forest owners including smallholders in the FSC system so we can support the sustainability of their land. We are grateful to those who spent years to bring this all into fruition. We are confident that this standard has effectively maintained the delicate balance between delivering on social, economic and environmental values. With this FSS in place, we expect to witness hugely positive change in how forests are managed and utilized in India.”
The process for developing India-specific forest management standard started in 2016 with the formation of chamber-balanced standard development group. The FSS for India was developed over a period of more than five years which involved experts from academia, researchers and civil society as well as representative forest managers, wood-based industries, environmental NGOs and smallholders. The standard has gone through two intensive public consultations and elaborate field testing in representative forest areas. It will pave way for internationally benchmarked but nationally adapted standard for responsible forest management in India.
For any queries on the standard, please contact Dr Suresh Gairola, FSC India Country Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
The FSS for India (English version) can be consulted in the FSC Document Centre.
A translated (into Hindi) version and more related news will be available on FSC Asia Pacific website in due course.
The release event has been covered by Press Information Bureau, Government of India at their website.
Photo credit: Suresh Gairola