VAN PANCHAYATS (VPs):
Van Panchayat (VP) / Village Forest Council is an autonomous local institution having legally demarcated village forests. They were formed for sustainable management and protection of forests and its natural resources. The first VP, approved by the government, was formed in 1921. Uttarakhand has more than 6,000 VPs managing around 4,05,000 ha. of forests. The area under each VP ranges from small tracts of land to more than 2,000 ha. All the community forests are managed as per the guidelines in the Van Panchayat Act (Find attached document Van Panchayat Act 2005). It’s the joint responsibility of the state and communities to manage the Forest Council. For effective results, the Revenue Department guides the forest communities.
The main functions of Van Panchayat are:
- To protect the forests by preventing indiscriminate cutting of trees. Clearance should be taken from the forest department for cutting trees.
- To undertake steps to promote silviculture.
- To ensure that any land in the VP is not encroached. Any violations are to be immediately reported.
- To fix and construct the boundary pillars
- To carry out the directives of the Divisional forest officer in developing and protecting forests
During the Project span of 8 years, eco-restoration, livelihood improvement and community development activities will be carried out in 37,500 ha. of forest land involving 750 Van Panchayats selected within the 13 forest divisions. The selection of Van Panchayats for these activities is being done in four batches (150, 250, 250 and 100 VPs each in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th batch respectively) by following scientific parameters related to forest degradation, cluster approach and socio-economic criteria.