Forests are essential for survival and sustenance of life. They are source of many direct and indirect benefits and need to be managed in such a way that extraction of
benefits does not deplete the resource. Their growth should be optimised so that greater benefits are derived from them. It can be achieved using forestry science.
A moot question related to the management of forests is that whom should these benefits, accruing from the forests, go to? Should the forests be managed to maximize production
of good quality timber to feed construction and furniture industries or should they be managed to maximize production of fuel wood and fodder to serve the requirements of rural poor. Another view could be that the forests should be managed to conserve the
natural habitat for wildlife instead of high growth objectives. These are the questions which determine the objectives of forest management.
Madhya Pradesh has a long history of scientific forest management. The forest policy provides conceptual guidelines for forestry work . To translate the policy into action,
detailed planning of field level tasks is required. There has been a long tradition of documented planning. These plan documents are called "Working Plans". Working plans are prepared for management of natural forest areas. Normally, a forest Division is the
unit for preparation of Working Plan . A Working Plan is prepared for a period of ten years after which it is revised.
Apart from Forest Divisions, protected areas like National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries have been created. The specific objectives of management in these areas is to
conserve wildlife and biodiversity. Planning for these areas is, therefore, carried out separately . The plan document for these areas is called "Management Plan". Normally, a National Park or a Wildlife Sanctuary is the unit for preparation of Management
Moreover, there are areas which have been earmarked for Joint Forest Management (JFM). In these areas forest protection and management is carried out through peoples? participation. The plan document for these areas is called a "Micro Plan".
2. Preparation of Working Plans
(i) Administrative structure
Preparation, revision and approval of Working Plans in the state of Madhya Pradesh is looked after by a separate wing headed by an officer of the rank of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests,
who is assisted by Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests . The entire state is divided into three regions. The regional offices, headed by Chief Conservators of Forests, Working Plan, are located at
Indore. The Regional office
Bhopal headed by, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.
?Under these Regional offices there are sixteen Working Plan units in the state.
The forest areas of the state have been under planned management forestry for more than hundred years. Therefore, major forest areas are covered under Working Plans. These plans
are under various stages of implementation and revision.
(ii) Process of Preparation
The process of Working Plan revision normally comprises of the following stages :
A. First Preliminary Report:
The Working Plan Officer first reviews the results of the past management and examines the justification for its revision. Then he carries out a reconnaissance survey of the plan area. Based on this
survey he makes proposals for extensive data collection surveys and fieldwork. These proposals are made in a report called ?First Preliminary Report?. The First Preliminary
Report is approved by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests after extensive discussions in a meeting in which a representative of Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India is also
On the basis of decisions taken in the first preliminary report, Working Plan Officer conducts extensive data collection which includes pilot survey, socioeconomic survey, stock mapping, forest resources
survey, stem and stump analysis, meteorological data analysis and updating compartment histories. For carrying out these surveys, the Working Plan Officer and his team visit the forest areas extensively. The objective is to take stock of the forest crop, study
the effects of past management and then put the observations on the maps. In forest resources survey, sample plots are laid out and forest inventory is carried out for the plan area. Also statistically designed socioeconomic survey is carried out in the planned
area, which helps linking the forestry prescription to peoples? requirements and policy priorities. The field work is followed by processing and analysis of collected data, and updating of records.
C. Second Preliminary Report:
A report called "Second Preliminary Report on the basis of processed data of above surveys is prepared. In the Second Preliminary Report, Working Plan
Officer prepares the outline for future management. On the basis of status of the forest crop, the plan area is classified into various Working Circles. Prescription for various silvicultural systems to be followed in each of the working circles is drafted.
The Second Preliminary Report is approved by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests in consultation with a representative of the Government of India after detailed deliberation on the content of the report.
Use of computers and other modern tools of Remote Sensing, Geographical Information System (GIS) and Geographical Positioning System (GPS) has been initiated in data processing and analysis for Working Plan
d. Working Plan After approval of the Second Preliminary Report
The Working Plan Officer, submits the final Working Plan document which is sent to the State Government and Central Government for their approval. Usually
it takes three years for a Working Plan Officer to revise / prepare a Working Plan. With the introduction of new technologies, it is hoped that revision / preparation will be possible in lesser time. At present, the average cost of preparation of Working Plans
is Rs. 6300/- per sq.km.
A Working Plan Cell in the Ministry of Environment and
Forest assists the state at various stages of Working Plan preparation.
3. Implementation of Working Plans:
The territorial Conservators of Forests and Divisional Forest Officers are responsible for implementation of approved Working Plans. If
situation so demands that the preparations have to be deviated, it has to be duly approved. The State Government has authorized the Principal Chief Conservator of
Forest (Working Plan) to scrutinize the proposals of deviations and forward them to the Central Government for approval.