Forest Resources

Forest Resources

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this session, students will be able to

• Explain Forest Resources

• Discuss the use and over-exploitation Forest Resources

• Describe Deforestation

• Explain the effect of Timber extraction, mining, dams on
forests and tribal people


• Introduction to Forest Resources

• Use and over-exploitation Forest Resources

• Deforestation

• Timber extraction, mining, dams and their effects on
forests and tribal people


Use and

• Scientists estimate that India had 33% of its land under
forests (today we have only about 12%)

• Not only to protect existing forests but also to increase
our forest cover

• People who live in or near forests know the value of forest

• Water we use depends on the existence of forests on the
watersheds around river valleys

• Our homes, furniture and paper are made from wood from the

• We use many medicines that are based on forest produce

• We depend on the O2 that plants give out and removal of
CO2 breathe

• Forests once extended over large tracts of our country

• As agriculture spread the forests were left in patches
which were controlled mostly by tribal people

• They hunted animals and gathered plants and lived entirely
on forest resources

• Deforestation 
became  a  major 
concern  in  British 
times  when  a 
large amount of timber was extracted for building their ships

• Alienated local people by creating Reserved and Protected
Forests, which curtailed access to the resources

• Another period of over utilisation and forest degradation
occurred in the early period following independence as people felt that now
that the British had gone they had a right to using our forests in any way we

• Timber extraction continued to remain the Forest
Department’s main concern up to the 1970s

• Forest degradation and deforestation was creating a
serious loss of the important functions of the forest began to override its
utilisation as a source of revenue from timber


• Where civilizations have looked after forests by using
forest resources cautiously, they have prospered, where forests were destroyed,
the people were gradually impoverished

• Today  logging  and 
mining  are  serious 
causes  of  loss 
of  forests  in  our
country and all over the world

• Dams built for hydroelectric power or irrigation have
submerged forests and have displaced tribal people whose lives are closely knit
to the forest

• One of India’s serious environmental problems is forest
degradation due to timber extraction and our dependence on fuel wood

• A large number of poor rural people are still highly
dependent on wood to cook their meals and heat their homes

• We have not been able to plant enough trees to support the
need for timber and fuel wood

• National Forest Policy of 1988 was started

• Another resolution in 1990 provided a formal structure for
community participation though the formation of Village Forest Committees

• Based on these experiences, new guidelines were issued in

• This stipulates that at least 25% income from the area
must go to the

• From the initiation of the program, until 2002, there were
63,618 JFM Committees managing over 140,953 sq. km of forest under JFM in 27
States in India

• Timber extraction, mining and dams are invariably parts of
the needs of a developing country

• If timber is overharvested the ecological functions of the
forest are lost

• Unfortunately forests are located in areas where there are
rich mineral resources

  Forests  also 
cover  the  steep 
embankments  of  river 
valleys,  which  are

• Thus there is a constant conflict of interests between the
conservation interests of environmental scientists and the Mining and
Irrigation Departments

• What needs to be understood is that long-term ecological
gains cannot be sacrificed for short-term economic gains that unfortunately
lead to deforestation

• These forests where development projects are planned can
displace thousands of tribal people who lose their homes when these plans are

• This leads to high levels of suffering for which there is
rarely a satisfactory


Watershed protection:

• Reduce the rate of surface run-off of water

• Prevent flash floods and soil erosion

• Produces prolonged gradual run-off and thus prevent
effects of drought


• Absorption of solar heat during evapo-transpiration

• Maintaining carbon dioxide levels for plant growth

Erosion control:

• Holding soil (by preventing rain from directly washing
soil away)

Land bank:

• Maintenance of soil nutrients and structure

Local use

• Consumption of forest produce by local people who collect
it for subsistence – (Consumptive use)

• Food – gathering plants, fishing, hunting from the forest

• Fodder – for cattle       

• Fuel wood and charcoal for cooking, heating

• Poles – building homes especially in rural and wilderness

• Timber – household articles and construction

• Fiber – weaving of baskets, ropes, nets, string, etc

• Sericulture – for silk

• Apiculture – bees for honey, forest bees also pollinate

•Medicinal plants – traditionally used medicines,
investigating them as potential source for new modern drugs

Market use –
(Productive use)

• Most of the above products used for consumptive purposes
are also sold as a source of income for supporting the livelihoods of forest
dwelling people

• Minor forest produce (non-wood products): Fuel wood, fruit
fiber, etc

• Major timber extraction for construction, industrial uses,
paper pulp, etc.

• Timber extraction is done in India by the Forest
Department, but illegal logging continues in many of the forests of India and
the world


• Scientists estimate that India had 33% of its land under
forests (today we have only about 12%)

• Deforestation became a major concern in British times when
a large amount of timber was extracted for building their ships

• Today logging and mining are serious causes of loss of
forests in our country and all over the world

• National Forest Policy of 1988 was started

• Timber extraction, mining and dams are invariably parts of
the needs of a developing country