06 Nov, 2023
The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) revised the National Working Plan Code (NWPC) 2014 and released the NWPC 2023 effective as of 17 June 2023. This updated code is set to become the primary reference document for all forest officers nationwide for preparing forest divisional Working Plans (WPs). The revised code also recommends the application of modern tools and techniques in the development of these WPs.
In line with these efforts, the MoEF&CC and the Indo-German Development Cooperation Project of GIZ India, ‘Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystem Services (FES)’, jointly convened a national conference to sensitise the WP implementing officers of all Indian states and Union Territories (UTs) about the NWPC 2023. It was presided over by Mr. Chandra Prakash Goyal, Director General of Forests and Special Secretary (DGF&SS), MoEF&CC.
The conference commenced with introductory remarks from Mr. Raghu Prasad, Inspector General of Forests (IGF), MoEF&CC who outlined the workshop’s context, emphasising that WPs in India now incorporate the Indian Forest Management Standard (IFMS). These standards align with global criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, ensuring effective monitoring of sustainable practices across Indian forests. It was followed by addresses from various officers of the MoEF&CC and the State Forest Departments (SFDs).
Mr. Chandra Prakash Goyal, in his chief guest’s address highlighted the need for financial backing for successful implementation of WPs. Following the enforcement of the Van (Sanrakshan Evam Samvardhan) Adhiniyam 2023, the implementation of WPs becomes legally binding, establishing a legal framework that governs all forest activities. He also made a point of the establishment of certification standards as a recognised country-led initiative for sustainable forest management.
The addresses were followed by various presentations delivered across three thematic sessions with the aim of familiarising WPOs in states and UTs with new aspects of the NWPC 2023. The presentations covered topics such as the role of the MoEF&CC, Forest Survey of India (FSI), Integrated Regional Officers (IROs) and the SFDs. Salient features of the IFMS, Indian Forest and Wood Certification Scheme (IFWCS) were also elaborated upon. These included insights from the USAID team on the VAN app, experiences from the Forest Department of Kerala, and examples of community involvement in the working plan preparation process in Himachal Pradesh (H.P.).
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Goyal emphasized that the Continuous Forest Inventory (CFI) aims to distribute data collection to the field, necessitating the establishment of a centralised database for efficient data storage and retrieval. Additionally, he highlighted the organisation of six regional workshops across the country from December 2023 to 2024 for WPOs. He also stated that the IFWCS represents a crucial initiative in the sustainable management of India's forests. Aligned with internationally accepted schemes, it seeks to stabilise market rates for certification. Anticipated outcomes also include the promotion of agroforestry and the active inclusion of marginal and small farmers in the certification portfolio. Mr. Goyal concluded the workshop by underscoring the necessity of setting WPs in every state and UT of India. This, he emphasised, is essential for the sustainable and scientific management of forests nationwide.
Chief Guest’s address by Mr. Chandra Prakash Goyal, DGF&SS, MoEF&CC | © GIZ/Aashima Negi
Group photo: National Conference on NWPC 2023 | © GIZ/Aashima Negi
Participants at the National Conference on NWPC 2023 | © GIZ/Aashima Negi
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