Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) was recognized as integral part of sustainable development at UN Earth Summit at Rio (1992). Around 150 countries have initiated Criteria & Indicators (C&I) approach for SFM as part of one or the other internationally recognized nine processes.
The Dry Zone Asia Initiative evolved in 1999 with participation from nine Asian countries viz. Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand and was held at Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), Bhopal. As an offshoot of this Initiative and to develop a national set of Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management in India, the Bhopal-India (BI) Process was started at IIFM under aegis of Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. Thus, Bhopal-India process has semblance with internationally recognized processes specifically the Dry Zone Asia and International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) initiatives on SFM.
United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) in 2006 and later in the year 2017 at UNFF special session arrived at six global forest goals which emphasized on increasing area and the proportion of forest products derived from sustainably managed forests.
The global goals are
1) Reverse the loss of forest cover worldwide through sustainable forest management, including protection, restoration, afforestation and reforestation, and increase efforts to prevent forest degradation and contribute to the global effort of addressing climate change;
2) Enhance forest-based economic, social and environmental benefits, including by improving the livelihoods of forest dependent people;
3) Increase significantly the area of protected forests worldwide and other areas of sustainably managed forests, as well as the proportion of forest products from sustainably managed forests;
4) Mobilize significantly increased, new and additional financial resources from all sources for the implementation of sustainable forest management and strengthen scientific and technical cooperation and partnerships;
5) Promote governance frameworks to implement sustainable forest management, including through the UN Forest Instrument, and enhance the contribution of forests to the 2030 Agenda; and
6) Enhance cooperation, coordination, coherence and synergies on forest-related issues at all levels, including within the UN System and across Collaborative Partnership on Forests member organizations, as well as across sectors and relevant stakeholders.
The Government of India constituted a “Task Force” on SFM for developing modalities to adapt this approach. The task force recognized 8 criteria and associated indicators developed under Bhopal-India Process as the National set of C&I for SFM in 2000.
These draft national set of criteria and indicators for SFM were later pilot tested in six forest divisions in the States of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
The National Forestry Commission in 2006 recommended creating enabling environment to facilitate periodic assessment, monitoring the changes and reporting on national level criteria & indicators. The commission also emphasized on the need to develop Minimum Acceptable Standards (MAS) for SFM.
The Government of India established “SFM Cell” in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC). The SFM approach was recognized as a thrust area in the XI Five-Year Plan (2012-17).
The 8 criteria and 37 indicators for SFM have been further refined and are included in the New National Working Plan Code 2014 by the MoEFCC, Government of India for sustainable management of forests and conservation of biodiversity in the country.
Also, the Government of India constituted a “Task Force on Initiating Forest Certification in India” under the Chairmanship of the Director General of Forests & Special Secretary MoEFCC, GoI in 2004. This task force constituted a National Forest Certification Committee in Oct 2007 to suggest a framework for initiating Forest Certification in India. The task force recommended the establishment of an Indian Forest certification Council in line with other countries like Malaysia, Brazil, Chile etc.
The centre of SFM&FC at IIFM provided key inputs for the task force as well as the national committee.
In the backdrop of these developments at the national level and the growing awareness about sustainable forest management & forest certification at global level and the increasing demand for legally sourced & certified timber in developed markets, IIFM decided to set up the Centre for Sustainable Forest Management & Forest Certification (SFM & FC) in February 2006. The centre is mandated to generate a pool of knowledge and understanding in the field of Stainable Forest Management & Forest Certification help develop the forestry sector in the country.
The mission of the centre is to integrate, strengthen, and redirect the centre’s forestry research, education, and outreach to address the sustainability needs of the 21st century in a globalized environment. The centre fosters leadership through innovative programs, activities, and research to support sustainable forest management and forest certification.
The broad goals of the centre are:
- Strengthen sustainable forest management
- Support forest certification
- Promote sustainable business; sustainable production and sustainable consumption