Managing a forest means treating it as an organisation, managing its flora and fauna, administering it, protecting it and taking care of people dependent on it. To do this, you have to have scientific and technical knowledge related to growth and preservation of forests. You’ have to learn about silviculture (forest development), protection (legal and other regulations related to forests), forest mensuration (measuring trees), managing natural and other resources
What do they do?
The confidence rings loud in Capt. Anil Khare’s voice. The ex-Army man-turned-Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer says he is now doing the world’s best job. “You have power, authority… you are in command of people in uniforms — from forest guards to rangers,” says Khare, conservator of forests, MP Cadre.
As a forester, you get to explore the jungles and live in some of the most beautiful places (here, he holds forth eloquently on the charms of a certain forest property in Madhya Pradesh near the river Narmada “with its own private bathing ghat”).
It has a philanthropic element to it as well. “You get to do some social development work — look after some of the neediest communities living in abject poverty, protect wildlife,” Khare says. “Most importantly, you help conserve forests, critical for controlling global warming.”
The IFS training includes working with forest rangers and also police officers so that one knows what do in case of an encounter with poachers.
And at the Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), students are groomed to be forest managers, who would care for and utilise the jungles like the precious resource they are.
“Forest management today doesn’t have to essentially be about growing trees,” says PK Biswas, senior professor in the Sociology and Community Development Department, IIFM.
“It’s about people management, too. It means interacting with tribals and villagers who live in and around forests and derive their sustenance from it. These communities have to get actively involved in protecting the forests, helping in regeneration and conservation practices.
The government by itself cannot manage this wealth, which is vulnerable to poachers because of the great value of its timber and wildlife. One needs more than forest guards to look after this wealth.”
Forests do need care and protection. In their report on ‘Population pressure and deforestation in India’, SC Gulati and Suresh Sharma of the Population Research Centre,
Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi, state: “The enormity of forest stock scarcity in India can be judged from India’s position in the world in terms of population and forest resources.
India possesses around 16 per cent of the world’s population and 15 per cent of world’s livestock, with only 2.4 per cent of the world’s land area and 1.7 per cent of the world’s forest stock.”
Ask Prof. Biswas the adventures and the romance of a life in a jungle, and he is likely to laugh it off and change the topic to the business of managing forests, the need for expertise on carbon finance, NGO management, rural development, microfinance... This, of course, does not mean that subjects like forestry, social skills, climate change, as well as silviculture (controlling the growth of the forest and to ensure that it meets the needs of the inhabitants), forest mensuration (taking tree measurements), etc are not important. The IIFM today provides consultancy to government departments, MNCs and other agencies on agro-forestry, marketing, non-timber forest produce, grassland management, silviculture systems, eco-development, forestry planning and management, etc. “It’s about forest development and the management sector...” says Biswas.
Sharing his experiences in the IFS, Khare tells you how satisfying it is to do something for the villagers and tribals in the forested areas. Small things matter: “Sometimes you may find you have some whitewash to spare and you do up all the homes in a small hamlet. Sometimes you find that a village lacks fresh water supply and decide to dig up some wells… There are often run-ins with poachers and the forest mafia, but I wouldn’t give this job up for anything.”
Source: HT Horizons
. Scientific temperament
. Good knowledge of finances
. Great communication skills for teaching and reaching out to tribals / village people
. Quick decision-making abilities
. Authoritative, able and effective leadership
. Love of the outdoors
How do I get there?
Take up science at Plus Two level (preferably botany and zoology). The IIFM and IFS both can lead to great careers. Entrance to the IIFM’s PG diploma in forest management and fellow programme in management is through the Indian Institute of Management’s Common Admission Test (CAT). Recruitment to the IFS is through an annual civil service exam conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. Applicants should hold a BSc degree in maths, physics, chemistry, botany, zoology, geology, statistics, veterinary science or hold a Bachelor’s degree in engineering, forestry or agriculture or be a Bachelor of medicine and surgery