By 2001, forest coverage in India had fallen from 40 percent at the beginning of the twentieth century to 23 percent, below the worldwide average of 30 percent. It has been recognized that one of the factors causing destruction of the forests is the arbitrary use of forest resources by the poor village communities, living in or on the fringes of forests, which depend on those resources to make a living. It is therefore vital to promote awareness of the importance of forest management among the local village residents while planning for forest conservation, and to provide assistance to improve the livelihoods of the poor and their effective use of forest resources in a sustainable manner.
To that purpose, it is critical that the frontline staff of each state's forest department, which implements the project and is in daily contact with local village communities, receives effective and well structured trainings on the latest skills and techniques covering various aspects of the forestry sector, including forest management methods based on a new innovative approach. However, the 63 nos. of the state-operated forest training schools throughout India, that are in charge of providing the training to the frontline staff are completely ill-equipped to provide appropriate training due to various reasons such as inadequate state budgetary allocations, poor infrastructure, low priority accorded by the forest departments to trainings.
In this project, a full training curriculum will be developed to provide training in the latest technology and skills needed for forest conservation, as well as facilitating the implementation of joint forest management (JFM) with local village community members. ODA loan funding shall also be used to repair and rehabilitate aging training facilities and construct new ones in states which have no existing training facilities, as of now.
This ODA loan project is linked to the Technical Cooperation Project "Capacity Building of State Forest Training Institutions and SFS Colleges," a project that aims to improve the training at the national level under the Directorate of Forest Education at CASFOS (Central Academy for State Forest Service) , the official central training school of the Ministry of Environment, Govt. of India, in Dehradun, for the state forestry officials/ staff who shall become the master trainers and instructors in every targeted state. Additionally, short-term experts shall be dispatched in parallel as a part of the technical cooperation project to improve the content of the training program for the frontline staff class in the state forestry official training schools in each state. Short-term expert activities place emphasis on improving the training curriculum for frontline forestry staff to facilitate the effective implementation of forestry projects through Joint Forest Management (JFM) approach along with local village communities. Specifically, the Japanese short-term experts are expected to provide guidance on subjects such as how to train instructors at the state forestry training schools. In association with this technical cooperation project, it is expected that the impact of the ODA loan project will be further enhanced.