Forest project gets a boost
Guwahati, Jan. 18: The French development agency, Agence Française de Développement, has given the go ahead to the Assam forest department to undertake a feasibility study of the Rs 450-crore Assam project on forestry and bio-diversity conservation.
The project aims to restore and manage natural forest ecosystems and resources to enhance the livelihoods of communities dependent on forests and to ensure the sustainable conservation of bio-diversity.
A senior forest department official said a nine-member team from the French agency would arrive in the state in the first week of February to undertake the feasibility study jointly with the state forest department.
“It has always been a joint work. Senior and middle-level officers from the forest department will participate in the study,” the official said today.
He said the concept note prepared by the forest department was presented to the agency and the department of economic affairs recently during their first annual negotiation meeting in Paris. During this meeting, both the parties mutually agreed to go ahead with the next steps of the project.
If the agency approves the project’s feasibility in March, a formal proposal for it financing the conservation effort will follow in April. An appraisal mission will be held in Assam in May to ensure that the project can be presented to the agency’s board of directors in June or July, he added.
“The progress of the project has been fine till now as both the sides have collaborated nicely and one hopes that it will get cleared finally,” the official said.
There are eight components of the project: community empowerment, livelihood alternatives, eco-restoration and bio-diversity management, mitigation of human wildlife conflict, strategic planning, capacity building research and development, monitoring and evaluation.
A major aim of the project is to gradually empower forest-dependent communities to become partners in the management and conservation of forest resources and bio-diversity through training and institutional design.
The project will also explore strategies to reduce man-animal conflict, increase tolerance levels within the affected population and undertake activities to mitigate the levels of conflicts. The research and development component will aim to bridge knowledge gaps within the forest department through call for proposals tailored to suit the needs of the department.
There will be a representative from the ministry of environment and forests and one from a reputed NGO. A representative of the French agency will be included in the governing body as an observer if rules permit.