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Perhaps no other word is shrouded with mystery, romanticism, complexities and even confusion as the ferm sustainability. The basic question, which has led to vagueness and at times conflict is - sustainability of what and for whom? In fact, the concept of sustainability rests on three pillars, namely ecological sustainability, economic sustainability and socio- cultural sustainability. The sustainability of the protected areas will, therefore, flow from interaction of different stakeholders, values, interests, knowledge, entitlement regime and lobbying power. Traditionally, forests have been viewed as a means towards creation of physical wealth or conservation of biodiversity but to some groups , these are means towards survival as distinct culture and enhanced well being .

Sustainable Forest Management (SFM ) , as defined by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development is the "Management to meet the social, ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of present and future generations."

With a view to harmonize and integrate these parameters, different International / National processes have been laboring hard to formulate Criteria and Indicators (C&I) of sustainable forest management. However, in spite of extensive scientific , social , economic and political debate, no consensus has been arrived at as to what constitutes the sutainable forest management. This is further compounded because, varied objectives, value systems, temporal and spatial scales coupled with inherently long time - period to determine the efficacy of methodologies used for defining and ascertaining sustainable forest management defy clear and acceptable formulations. Due to lack of inter- se priorities of obljectives, it is just not physically possible to manage forests in a manner that simultaneously meets aspirations of every stakeholder because in pluralistic environment value determines the weight or importance of each one of the objectives. It also has to be ascertained whether SFM should address the value system of present generation or future generation or the intersection of the two . It is also pertinent to note that forest ecosystems in tropical forests are highly complex, more so, the dry tropical forests which account for half of the world's biodiversity including domestic cattle and home to nearly one billion people. At our present level of understanding, little is known about the sustainable harvesting levels, their rejuvenating power and consequent implications on the resource. Markets do not exist or at least the methodologies have not been perfected for many social and environmental services that forests provide .In some areas, the institutions are weak, with the result that in spite of legal, policy and administrative environment, they do not effectively control undesirable practices. Vintage technologies which are resource wasting and polluting, have no efficiency considerations . Uncertainty about tenure and future access to the resource tend to encourage over harvesting. Forest revenues, by and large are credited to the national or state exchequers and are ploughed back neither for resource development nor shared with the local communities and consequently forests are viewed by locals of little benefit to them.

On account of difficult conceptual issues enumerated above, it is evident that sustainable forest management with all its attendant paraphernalia for formulating the criferia and indicators will remain an impracticable preposition, at least in developing countries, where poverty is rampant which is launching a serious and severe assault on livelihood source. Therefore, while maintaining health and vitality of the forest ecosystem , what is needed is to evolve a package of proactive and people's friendly minimal damage forest management practices which could contribute incrementally towards sustainable forest management or avoid those practices which are clearly destructive and simultaneously enhance the well being of people. This indeed will be a practical approach towards attaining the desired goal rather than perusing an elaborate and illusive theoretical matrix of SFM. Unless it is so, all laudable initiatives of JFM or SFM will wilt before bloom.

And that is what PPA is all about !!

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