Scientific forestry began in India in 1856 and reached a high standard during colonial times. Management traditions were further improved after Independence, with the emphasis remaining on sustained timber production from state forest reserves. In the mid-1970s under the National Commission on Agriculture, a paradigm shift took place from low-investment, slow-growing forestry to high-investment, fast-growing forestry. The National Forest Policy 1988 introduced participatory forest management, helping decelerate forest loss, but not stopping it completely. In recent times, two trends are clear: 1) wood production from agro-forestry is significantly higher than from state forests; and 2) non-timber forest products have become more important than timber. These trends would support the Planning Commission of India's (2000–2020) strategy of faster, more inclusive growth. Opportunities, however, need to be carefully embedded within the government forest management system through appropriate policy and institutional adaptations and through increased knowledge and information support to local communities.
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Vol. 10 • No. 2