Social forestry refers to the management and protection of forests and afforestation on barren lands with the purpose of helping in the environmental, social and rural development. The term was first used in India in 1976 by the National Commission on Agriculture, Government of India. The basic objective social forestry is to raising plantations by the common man so as to meet the growing demand for timber, fuel wood, fodder, etc, thereby reducing the pressure on the traditional forest area. This concept of village forests to meet the needs of the rural people is not new. It has existed through the centuries all over the country but it was now given a new nomenclature.
Objective of Social Forestry
• Improve the environment for protecting agriculture from adverse climatic factors,
• Increase the supply of fuel wood for domestic use, small timber for rural housing, fodder for livestock, and minor forest produce for local industries,
• Increase the natural beauty of the landscape; create recreational forests for the benefit of rural and urban population,
• Provide jobs for unskilled workers
• Reclaim wastelands. Finally, its object is to raise the standard of living and quality of life of the rural and urban people.
Components of Social Forestry according to National Commission on Agriculture
• Urban Forestry: It aimed bringing trees to the door of the urban people. It advocates on the beautification of house, roads and vacant lands as also creation of tree reserves, in town and cities. Moreover, it stress on the aesthetic development of urban areas.
• Rural Forestry: It envisages on the plantations of multi-utility of trees at the certain distance in arrow according to the crops is done under agro-forestry.
• Farm Forestry: In farm forestry farmers are given incentives by the government and encouraged to plant trees on their own farms. A farmer needs fire wood for cooking and agricultural implements, fodder for cattle and manure for his fields. By planting suitable species of trees on his land, the farmer can, to a large extent be self-sufficient with regard to these essential needs and there can even be surplus for sale. With an appropriate choice of tree species and the adoption of scientific silvicultural practice, the farmer can considerably argument his income, without adversely affecting the agriculture.
Social forestry is an integral part of the Gandhian philosophy of economic growth and community development. The social benefits thus generated and the additional resources so created may serve as stepping stones toward self-sufficiency.