Friday, October 10, 2008

Suggestions to Tamil Nadu State Forest Commission

The Govt. of Tamil Nadu has formed a “State Forest Commission” (Environment and Forests (FR.Spl.A) Department, G.O.(Ms) No.87, Dated: 14.08.2007), a first of its kind in India, with a Chairman and two Member Secretaries. The commission has been asked to submit its recommendations to the Govt. within a year regarding the various aspects of Forests and Wildlife Management in Tamil Nadu, and to make recommendations in this regard.

The Terms of Reference of the State Forest Commission can be viewed at:-

The suggestions are welcome from NGOs, persons living near forests, farmers doing forestry, village level forest committee members, industries depending on forest produce, environmentalists, Scientists, forest officers and from the general public. They can be sent within a month to ‘The Member Secretary, Tamil Nadu State Forest Commission, Panagal Maligai, Saidapettai, Chennai – 600 015’ or to the E mail address:

I request this forum members and anybody who has interest in tree growing and forest conservation to forward their esteemed opinions to the commission for its kind consideration.

A copy of my E-mail (mostly about the Forest Department’s TCPL scheme) sent to “State forest commission” on 09/10/2008 is given here below for your valuable comments.

Suggestions to Tamilnadu State Forest Commission:

I am a farmer from Tirunelveli District, greatly benefited from the Tamilnadu Govt.'s 'Tree crops on patta land' ( TCPL) scheme. I hereby humbly submit some suggestions regarding the above scheme, with a fervent hope of turning it to more farmer friendly scheme and if implemented will naturally increase the forest cover in our state.

1. Farmers normally don't have the knowledge to select a Tree variety that suits his land's soil type and water quality. Under the TCPL scheme he is planting whatever variety he is getting from the Forest Dept. Due to wrong selection or supply most seedlings will perish at the field in the initial months itself. So before effecting supplies, the Dept. should take soil tests and water analysis tests in the identified farm land and should suggest to the farmer, suitable crops and the necessary cultivation techniques.

2. At present 'Drip irrigation subsidy' is not availabe to tree crops or agro forestry or Silviculture or timber plantations or whatever name we have for the cultivation of Trees. It is sad to note here that our Govt.rules and Acts not spared even border crops that act as fencing or as wind breakers to the farmer's field.
To start with Govt. may allow 'Drip irrigation subsidy' for the tree crops planted on the borders and bunds there by encouraging the farmers to go for these boundary crops in a large scale. Later after seeing the results we can think of providing drip irrigation subsidies to bulk tree plantations also. This is a short cut way to increase our state's green cover. So 'Drip irrigation subsidy' for the tree crops is the need of this hour.

3. More number of Pamphlets and brochures with details of tree varieties, cultivation techniques, their maturity, preferable soil types Etc. should be released by the Forest Department for the farmer's benefit.

4. It is advisable to provide plants of various types with different maturity periods (short, medium and long duration varieties) to the marginal farmers instead of a single variety there by assuring him of a regular income.

5. Maximum ceiling level ( number of plants) for Bulk plantings should be removed.

6. Incentives for the tree growers may be increased to 3 years from the present level of 2 years. It is better to release the incentive amount at the end of the year, after seeing the results, instead of at the year beginning as is the case now.

7. It is not possible to raise the required number of plants and all the varieties in the nurseries of Forest Department alone. So, we should entrust this work to interested individual farmers, NGOs and SHGs. The planning should be in such a way, so that only plants identified for that particular village are allowed to cultivate in the nursery. By this way the farmer can avoid the huge transportation costs, and he is free to take delivery of the plants whenever he feels that climatic conditions are favorable for planting.

8. In continuation of the above, the farmer who is willing to establish a nursery exclusively for timber plants may require bank finance. So, a recommendation letter from the Forest department to the concerned banker to the effect that the farmer is a technically qualified person in the nursery keeping and the buy-back of the raised plants from the nursery by the Dept is guaranteed.

9. Farmers who are willing to do Agro forestry but have lands in rain fed areas and drought prone areas usually don’t come forward due to the high cost of land development expenses. We should help them by providing subsidies in leveling the field, to form bunds and to create structures for rain water conservation.

10. The tree crops raised under ‘TCPL’ scheme should be allowed to cut on maturity without any beaurocratic hurdles. These scheduled timbers should be allowed for transportation after sale and the Dept. should issue “No Objection Certificate”.

11. The Govt. should give importance and priority to “Agro forestry” also, like the encouragement it gives to Horticulture and Spice crops. This can be done by enacting laws and by providing adequate funds to enhance acreage, coverage and productivity of timber crops so that farmers can be weaned away from water consuming traditional crops there by assuring them of appropriate returns.
Thanking You,
Yours truly,
Vishnu Sankar
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