Social forestry refers to the management of forests for the benefits of local communities. It includes aspects such as sustainable forest management, forest protection, and afforestation of degraded and barren lands with the objective of improving the rural, environmental, and social development.
For this reason, the main goal of social forestry is to grow trees and plantations on non-state forest land to meet the growing needs of people in reference to increased demand for small timber, food, fuel, and food to reduce the pressure and dependency on traditional forest areas.
The practice also aims to protect agriculture from adverse climatic conditions by improving the environment, increase the natural beauty, and increasing the supply of forest produce for local use.
Social Forestry Wing is maintaining more than eighty (80) nurseries throughout Sindh province to ensure availability of healthy planting stock for supply to various stakeholders particularly progressive farmers, Armed Forces, Government Institutions and General public.
Although the concept and practice of social forestry have existed for centuries, it is constantly gaining a new dimension because of its benefits including its potential for tackling the challenges of global warming.
The designation area of forest in Sindh is 8% of its total area. If Government provides all resources and nature supports, but we cannot increase total area of forest beyond 8%. The only solution for increasing tree cover is planting trees on non-state lands, agriculture lands, alongwith canals/ roads, Parks, Private and state owned buildings etc with the collaboration of locals.
The demand for fuel wood in Sindh is steadily increasing. Most of it is used for cooking. To cook 1 kg of food, 1.2 kg of fuel wood is required. This clearly indicates the need for producing more fuel wood than food.
A huge quantity of cattle dung is burnt annually in the country which tantamount to annual loss of plant nutrients by this wasteful practice amounts to thousands tonne of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. If cattle dung were incorporated into the soil instead of using it as fuel, it would increase food grain production. This can be achieved only when fuel wood is supplied to the rural poor in sufficient quantity.
Fodder problem of livestock population needs immediate attention. The fodder available at present is very low both in quality as well as in quantity. It can meet only 23% of the protein requirement and 39% of the carbohydrate requirement of the livestock population. Growing perennial fodder crops becomes a necessity to solve the fodder problem. Similarly, seeds and fruits of some trees are excellent ingredients for concentrates.
Small timber is usually used by the poor for building and repairing their houses and for making agricultural implements, as cement, iron etc. are beyond their purchasing capacity. The demand for small timber and bamboo will remain for a long period and will increase along with the increase in population. Social forestry can provide the rural poor with timber and bamboo.
Social forestry can solve the food problem of the poor to a great extent. Certain edible fruits like Jaman, Guava and Ber have high nutritional value and can grown under social forestry programmes.
Social forestry can play a vital role in the reclamation of degraded lands, conservation of soil and moisture, improvement of agricultural production and prevention of environmental deterioration.