Policy Brief #05, February 2009. The research presented in this briefing is from IIASA’s Forestry Program and TIFAC, an autonomous organization under India’s Department of Science and Technology. It highlights the key issues facing the Indian forestry system, identifies major priorities and actions to help the Indian forestry system develop sustainably and meet future national needs. 


  • The rapidly growing Indian economy has implications for all sectors of the economy, including forestry. The societal demands on forests are becoming more diversified and rising faster than the capacity of forests to supply them on a sustainable basis. The widening gap is one of the main causes of forest degradation and loss of forest biodiversity that is taking place on an unprecedented scale, fast eroding the very basis of the livelihood of forest-dependent communities.
  • The existing administrative structure and functions, planning and control system, and research and training methods are all geared toward securing a sustained supply of timber, mainly from state forest reserves. A move toward more comprehensive multiple-use forestry would require reorientation of forestry institutions by bringing within their mandate the production of goods and environmental services, both in and outside forests. A mismatch between the changing societal demands on forests and non-changing forestry institutions could slow down the growth or even allow the sector to stagnate, thereby accelerating forest degradation.
  • This assessment of the Indian forest sector identifies four interlinked themes as an approach that offers the greatest possibility of ensuring the sustainable development of the Indian forestry system. The themes are:
  • The future of Indian forestry will depend on the provision of reliable data and inventories covering all aspects of the Indian forestry system.
  • New data and inventories must be based on integrated assessments that take account of issues far beyond traditional forest-sector analysis and map the root causes of the degradation and depletion of forest resources.
  • These integrated assessments can then feed into an ongoing, institutionalized strategic planning process that results in integrated strategies and policies.
  • The successful implementation of this strategic plan will require the restructuring of existing governance and institutions with respect to the forest sector.
  • In essence, Indian forestry experts point to the need for an integrated concept for analysis, planning, and management of the Indian forest sector.