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SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir government has launched a policy for sustainable collection and utilization of non-forest products (NTFP) in UT.
IJ&K is one of the unique biodiversity hotspots in the Indian Himalayas with about 48 percent of the area under forest cover. The forests of the region are a repository of non-forest timber products (NTFP) such as bamboo, brushwood, stumps, sugarcane, honey, gum, tusar, rare medicinal plants, herbs, roots, tubers, etc.
A senior official in the Department of Forests, Jammu & Kashmir said that the policy aims to directly involve forest-dependent communities in the sustainable collection and utilization of NTFP, thereby opening up livelihood opportunities for them.
“The current management of NTFPs, including medicinal plants involves the collection of certain species through auctioning by the forest department. With the implementation of this policy, the practice of selling will be stopped and the local people will be allowed to collect these resources from the wild in a sustainable manner and the benefits obtained will be shared equally among them,” said an official document obtained by Kashmir Monitor. .
The policy also stated that the collection and sustainable use of NTFP will be facilitated by Biodiversity Management Committees, in accordance with the Biodiversity Act, 2020.
In addition, the forestry department will play a facilitating role where collectors and traders can access authorized resources. “This will increase the value of the product in the market thus increasing their income. NTFP sellers will register their depot under the J&K Forest Produce (Sale and Registration of Depot) Rules, 2020,” it said.
In principle, the forest department will maintain the data due to the collection of NTFP resources from the wild. The department will also promote value addition, value chain creation, and improve market linkages in collaboration with the J&K Rural Livelihood Mission, Department of Tribal Affairs, and Mission Capacity Building for collectors to earn better income.
“The department will establish nature conservation areas, botanical gardens, nurseries, farms and botanical gardens, according to the needs of that area. Also, the forest development organization will provide an electronic platform for NTFP, aggregators and traders to trade NTFP,” the document said.