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Joint forest management

Originating in the early 1970s, the concept of joint forest management (JFM) is the official and popular term in India and elsewhere for partnerships in forest management involving both the state forest departments and local communities. Although schemes vary from state to state, the system works with villagers agreeing to assist in the safeguarding of forest resources through protection from fire, grazing and illegal harvesting in exchange for non-timber forest products and a share of the revenue from the sale of timber products. It was born in response to the many conflicts over forests, notably the Chipko movement of the 1970s in the Himalaya (Guha, 2009).

The primary objective of JFM is to ensure sustainable use of forests to meet local needs equitably while ensuring environmental sustainability. The central premise is that local women and men who are dependent on forests at the village level have the greatest stake in sustainable forest management. The official ground for JFM was prepared by the Indian National Forest Policy of 1988, which envisaged people’s involvement in meeting their basic forest-related needs and in managing their local resources. While a valuable initiative, Bina Agarwal (2001) has pointed to the ‘participatory exclusion’ of some groups on grounds of gender or caste.


Guha , R. (2009) The Unquiet Woods: Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalaya, expanded edition, Delhi; Permanent Black.

Agarwal, B. (2001) Participatory exclusions, community forestry and gender, World Development, 29 (10) 1623-1648.

For further reading:

Borrini-Feyerabend, G., Farvar, M.T., Nguinguiri, J.C. and Ndangang, V.A., (2000). Co-management of natural resources: organising, negotiating and learning-by-doing. Heidelberg: GTZ and IUCN, Kasparek Verlag.

This glossary entry is based on a contribution by Julien Francois Gerber

EJOLT glossary editors: Hali Healy, Sylvia Lorek and Beatriz Rodríguez-Labajos

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