Trees outside forests (TOF) in India are defined as trees growing outside government recorded forest areas (RFAs). They are well known contributors towards the rural economy, food security and biodiversity. Recently, TOF have emerged as an important source for timber production globally as well as in India after a significant decline of timber production from forests in the last 25 years due to stricter conservation policies, acts and regulations. The paper attempts to analyse the state level TOF policies and guidelines, and suggest strategies to augment timber supply in the country through TOF. Analysis revealed that the potential of TOF for timber production is not being realized due to the absence of a uniform nationwide policy related to management, harvest, transit and marketing of timber from TOF. We further describe how the ambiguity and cumbersome nature of existing policies pose as constraints for farmers who want to grow and benefit from TOF. Finally, the paper concludes with a recommendation for a nationwide strategy for developing an umbrella policy and a network of markets to realize the complete potential of TOF for timber production in India. This in turn would also significantly reduce the growing gap between demand and supply of timber at the country level, in addition to reducing pressure on forests and timber import.
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Vol. 20 • No. 1