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General Studies 2 >> Polity

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1. Context
Amid rising international concerns about deforestation and illicit trade in timber, the government has launched its own “national” forest certification scheme to validate entities that adhere to sustainable practices in the management of forests and its products.
2. About The Indian Forest & Wood Certification Scheme

The Indian Forest & Wood Certification Scheme aimed at voluntary third-party certification, seeks to incentivize sustainable forest management and agroforestry across the country.

Key Components of the Scheme

  • Forest Management Certification based on the Indian Forest Management Standard, assesses adherence to responsible forestry practices within forests.
  • A new addition to the scheme, this certification focuses on sustainable management of trees grown outside forests, including agroforestry and farm forestry practices.
  • Chain of Custody Certification ensures responsible handling and tracking of wood products throughout the supply chain, from forest to consumer.

Benefits for Various Entities

  • The scheme offers market incentives for implementing sustainable forest management practices in State Forest Departments.
  • Engaging in agroforestry and farm forestry can open up new market opportunities for farmers.
  • Participating in the scheme can enhance the reputation and market competitiveness of wood-based businesses.

Governance and Oversight

  • The Indian Forest and Wood Certification Council is a multi-stakeholder advisory body that oversees the scheme, ensuring diverse perspectives and representation.
  • Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal Acts as the scheme operating agency, managing its implementation and day-to-day operations.
  • National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB) Under the Quality Council of India, NABCB accredits certification bodies to conduct independent audits and assess compliance with the scheme's standards.


The Indian Forest & Wood Certification Scheme holds significant potential for:

  • Promoting Sustainable Forestry Practices By incentivizing responsible forest management and agroforestry, the scheme can contribute to the conservation of India's forests and biodiversity.
  • Certification can open doors to new markets for wood products, benefiting both producers and consumers who value sustainability.
  • The scheme can contribute to the overall development and modernization of India's forest sector, leading to increased economic opportunities and environmental benefits.
3. What is Timber?
  • Timber refers to processed wood used in construction, carpentry, and furniture, sourced primarily from tree trunks with high-quality wood suitable for structural or aesthetic purposes.
  • Timber smuggling, synonymous with illegal logging or wood trafficking, entails the unauthorized removal, transportation, or sale of timber, often violating national laws. A significant environmental concern, it contributes to deforestation, habitat destruction, and biodiversity loss.
  • Timber is legal in India when sourced and harvested by forestry laws. However, challenges such as illegal logging and timber smuggling necessitate government enforcement measures.


4. How does timber production cause deforestation?


Timber production may contribute to deforestation as large forest areas are cleared for logging. This involves felling trees, transporting logs, and processing them into timber for commercial use.

Timber logging in deforestation involves selectively or clear-cutting trees for commercial purposes, driven by market demands for timber products. It leads to habitat loss, soil erosion, and disruptions to ecosystems.

Effects of Deforestation Due to Timber Logging
  • Deforestation leads to habitat destruction, causing the decline or extinction of plant and animal species.
  • Removal of trees hampers carbon sequestration, contributing to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and exacerbating climate change.
  • Tree removal exposes soil to erosion, resulting in degradation and reduced fertility.
  • Forests play a vital role in regulating water cycles. Deforestation alters rainfall patterns, affecting water availability.
  • Deforestation adversely affects indigenous communities relying on forests for livelihoods and cultural practices.
 5. What is forest certification in India?

Forest certification in India is a voluntary process that verifies whether a forest is managed according to established standards for sustainability, including environmental, social, and economic considerations. This independent assessment is conducted by accredited certification bodies and results in the issuance of a certificate.

Types of forest certification in India

  • Forest Management Unit (FMU) certification Assesses the management practices of an entire forest unit, ensuring compliance with sustainability standards.
  • Chain of Custody (CoC) certification Tracks the flow of timber and forest products from the forest to the final consumer, guaranteeing their certified origin.
  • Tree Outside Forests (TOF) certification Evaluates the sustainable management of trees grown outside forests, including farm forestry and agroforestry systems.


Benefits of forest certification

  • Promotes sustainable forest management practices, reducing deforestation, protecting biodiversity, and ensuring responsible use of forest resources.
  • Provides market access for certified timber and forest products, enhancing their value and competitiveness in the global market.
  • Ensures fair treatment and respect for the rights of forest communities and indigenous peoples.
  • Encourages transparent and accountable forest governance practices, building trust among stakeholders.
For Prelims: Indian Forest & Wood Certification Scheme, National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies, Indian Institute of Forest Management, The Indian Forest and Wood Certification Council, 
For Mains: 
1. Discuss the ethical concerns surrounding timber smuggling and illegal logging. How can the Indian Forest & Wood Certification Scheme contribute to reducing corruption and promoting ethical practices in the timber industry? (250 Words)


Previous Year Questions

1. Which of the following statements about tropical rainforests are correct? (UPSC CAPF 2021)
1. The soils of tropical rainforests are quite infertile.
2. The vegetation is evergreen, enabling photosynthesis to take place year around.
3. They have been described as 'deserts covered by trees'.
4. They are the most productive land-based ecosystem.
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
A. 2 and 4 only             B. 1, 3, and 4 only        C. 1, 2, and 3 only           D. 1, 2, 3 and 4
2. "If rainforests and tropical forests are the lungs of the Earth, then surely wetlands function as its kidneys." Which one of the following functions of wetlands best reflects the above statement? (UPSC 2022)
A. The water cycle in wetlands involves surface runoff, subsoil percolation, and evaporation.
B. Algae form the nutrient base upon which fish, crustaceans, molluscs, birds, reptiles, and mammals thrive.
C. Wetlands play a vital role in maintaining sedimentation balance and soil stabilization.
D. Aquatic plants absorb heavy metals and excess nutrients.
3. If the tropical rainforest is removed, it does not regenerate quickly as compared to the tropical deciduous forest. This is because (UPSC 2011)
A. The soil of rain forest is deficient in nutrients.
B. propagules of the trees in the rainforest have poor viability.
C. The rainforest species are slow-growing.
D. exotic species invades the fertile soil of rain forest.
4. Consider the following States:
1. Arunachal Pradesh
2. Himachal Pradesh
3. Mizoram
In which of the above States do 'Tropical Wet Evergreen Forests' occur? (UPSC 2015)
A. 1 only       B. 2 and 3 only           C. 1 and 3 only          D. 1, 2 and 3
5. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change recently published the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, in 2020. Which of the following statements is correct about EIA? (Punjab Civil Service 2020)
1. It predicts the effect of a proposed industrial/infrastructural project on the environment.
2. It prevents the proposed activity/project from being approved without proper oversight or taking adverse consequences into account.
3. It compares various alternatives for a project and seeks to identify the one which represents the best combination of economic and environmental costs and benefits.
4. As per the new notification, Coal and non-Coal mineral prospecting and solar photovoltaic projects do not need prior environmental clearance.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
A. Only 1 and 2  B. Only 2, 3 and 4      C. Only 1, 2 and 3      D. Only 1, 2 and 4
6. With reference to the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), consider the following statements: (UPSC 2014)
1. It is an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
2. It strives to conserve nature through action-based research, education, and public awareness.
3. It organizes and conducts nature trails and camps for the general public.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 and 3 only          B. 2 only            C. 2 and 3 only              D. 1, 2 and 3
7. Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2019)
1. As per law, the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority exists at both National and State levels.
2. People's participation is mandatory in the compensatory afforestation programmes carried out under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct? 
A. 1 only          B. 2 only             C. Both 1 and 2                D. Neither 1 nor 2
8. Consider the following States: (UPSC 2019)
1. Chhattisgarh
2. Madhya Pradesh
3. Maharashtra
4. Odisha
With reference to the State mentioned above, in terms of the percentage of forest cover to the total area of the State, which one of the following is the correct ascending order?
A. 2-3-1-4        B. 2-3-4-1         C. 3-2-4-1                D. 3-2-1-4

9. At the national level, which ministry is the nodal agency to ensure effective implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006? (UPSC 2021)

(a) Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
(b) Ministry of Panchayati Raj
(c) Ministry of Rural Development
(d) Ministry of Tribal Affairs


10. A particular State in India has the following characteristics: (UPSC 2012)

  1. It is located on the same latitude which passes through northern Rajasthan.
  2. It has over 80% of its area under forest cover.
  3. Over 12% of forest cover constitutes the Protected Area Network in this State.

Which one among the following States has all the above characteristics?

(a) Arunachal Pradesh          (b) Assam       (c) Himachal Pradesh        (d) Uttarakhand


11. Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2019)
1. As per recent amendment to the Indian Forest Act, 1927, forest dwellers have the right to fell the bamboos grown on forest areas.
2. As per the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, bamboo is a minor forest produce.
3. The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 allows ownership of minor forest produce to forest dwellers.
Which of the statement given above is/are correct?
A. 1 and 2 only         B. 2 and 3 only         C. 3 only             D. 1, 2 and 3
12. The Indian Forest Act 1927 was enacted after repealing which of the following Indian forest acts? (SSC CGL 2021)
A. Indian Forest Act, 1922
B. Indian Forest Act, 1878
C. Indian Forest Act, 1865
D. Indian Forest Act, 1882
13. In which year Forest Conservation Act was passed? (UPTET 2019)
A.  1986     B. 1990           C. 1980         D. 1988
14. The government of India encourage the cultivation of 'sea buckthorn'. What is the importance of this plant? (UPSC 2012)
1. It helps in controlling soil erosion and in preventing desertification.
2. It is a rich source of biodiesel
3. It has nutritional value and is well-adapted to live in cold areas of high altitudes.
4. Its timber is of great commercial value.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only         B. 2, 3 and 4 only         C. 1 and 3 only         D. 1, 2, 3 and 4

15. With reference to ‘Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’, which of the following statements is/are correct? (UPSC 2015)

  1. It is a global partnership of governments, businesses, civil society and indigenous peoples.
  2. It provides financial aid to universities, individual scientists and institutions involved in scientific forestry research to develop eco-friendly and climate adaptation technologies for sustainable forest management.
  3. It assists the countries in their ‘REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation+)’ efforts by providing them with financial and technical assistance.

Select the correct answer using the code” given below.

(a) 1 only   (b) 2 and 3 only          (c) 1 and 3 only             (d) 1, 2 and 3

Answers: 1-D, 2-D, 3-A, 4-C, 5-D, 6-C,7-A, 8-C, 9-D, 10-A, 11-B, 12-B, 13-C, 14-C, 15-C, 


1. What are the consequences of Illegal mining? Discuss the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ concept of GO AND NO GO zones for coal mining sector. (UPSC 2013)
2. Examine the status of forest resources of India and its resultant impact on climate change. (UPSC 2020)
Source: The Indian Express

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