Who are Stakeholders?
A stakeholder is a person with an interest in a particular business. Everyone uses forest resources in one form or the other. The stakeholders of forest resources include:
- People who live around the forest areas and depend upon the forest resources for sustenance
- The Government Forest Department, which owns the forest land
- The industrialists who use forest products for various industrial purposes
- The enthusiasts for the conservation of wildlife and nature
The people staying in nearby areas use firewood, thatch, and small timber from the forests. Bamboo is used in making huts, and baskets for collecting fruits and food materials. Forests are also the sites for hunting and fishing. The industries consider the forest as a source of raw materials for the factories. Industrialists are not concerned about sustainability.
Before independence, the stakeholders were free to use forest resources. But after the British took over, access to forest resources was restricted to the forest dwellers. After independence, the government overtook forest departments, but the interest of the people staying in forests was still ignored. A few cultivation practices disturbed the whole biodiversity of the area.
The local communities had to get involved in the conservation of forest resources. Amrita Devi Bishnoi from the Bishnoi community, Rajasthan, protested to safeguard the Khejri trees in Khejrali village. Many people sacrificed their lives in the process.
One more example is the nomadic herders of the Himalayas. These herders brought their sheep down the valley for grazing. After the construction of the National Park, the herders were not allowed to bring their sheep for grazing. As a result, the grasses grew tall and prevented the growth of fresh grass. Thus, conservation practices were adversely affected.
The Chipko movement began in a small village in the Garhwal district where the women started hugging the trees to prevent them from being cut by the contractors. All these movements were efforts for the conservation of forest resources.
Management of the forest resources by keeping the local population out does not work in the long run. Deforestation caused due to development projects and industrialization is a serious problem. The forest resources should be used such that they sustain future generations. The environment is not a mere collection of plants and animals, but, an accumulation of natural resources for human use. These resources should be used wisely.