Introduction to Social Forestry
Social forestry may be defined as the science and art of growing trees in and outside traditional forest areas and managing like existing forest with intimate involvement of the people and more or less integrated with other operation resulting in balanced and complementary land used with view to provide wide range of goods and services to the individual as well as to the society. It is also called as Community forestry. The term social forestry was first used by a forest scientist named Westoby in 1976. Social forestry is the greatest instrument of land transformation. Consider the number of trees, which we have if each farmer raises even 10 trees on his farmland. The figure and yield will be colossal and its effect on economy will be very impressive. If each tree is harvested say at the 10th year, the farmer having 10 trees will earn nearly Rs.400 at Rs.40 a tree. This is with an initial expenditure of about Rs. 10 only. This increases the area under trees for the benefit of community as a whole and rural community in particular.
Development of trees on agricultural and other waste lands has tremendous effect. The trees control sheet, rill and gully erosion, they retain moisture in soil, provide the farmer with fuel and timber for agricultural implements, improve the climate, provide recreation to people, save cow dung for manure and wood required for cremation which is scarce sometime. Fuel alone to the extent of 90 million tones is consumed annually and it is estimated that more than 180 million tons of fuel will be needed. Again, it is said that about 400 million tons of cow dung equivalent to about 60 million tons of fuel wood are burnt annually in or country. That means the total fuel wood requirement will be to the order of 240 million tones. With forest yield being diverted for industrial purposes and their extent dwindling year by year, the only possible recourse for us will be make the farmer to grow trees on his farms. This is achieved to a great extent in Punjab and Haryana and parts of Utter Pradesh.