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NTFPs and the Forest Working Plans

The NTFPs have been an integral part of forest resources, and their potentiality is now being increasingly realized. In the recent National Working Plan Code 2014, greater emphasis has been given to sustainable management of NTFPs and the biodiversity. The detailed procedure for assessment of NTFP (including Medicinal & Aromatic Plants) is given in the new Code and there shall be an exclusive or overlapping Working Circle for the NTFPs. In the Working Plan Code, detailed guidelines have been suggested for community based NTFP management (Stockdale, 2005) which may be incorporated in the Working Plans. It also provides that the Working Plan Officer may suggest several management practices like closure of an area for collection of NTFPs for specific period, limits on the quantity of collection, promotion of sustainable harvesting practices etc.

In Tripura, the preparation of Working Plans of area covered under erstwhile Kailashahar and Manu Forest Divisions is in progress as per the new Code. The Preliminary Working Plan Report of both the divisions has been approved by the State Level Consultative Committee (SLCC). In the SLCC meeting, elaborate discussion was made on the various Working Circles to be incorporated in the Working Plans. It was unanimously agreed to include a NTFP (Overlapping) Working Circle considering the potential of these in the both forest division areas. The detailed plan for sustainable management of NTFPs will be incorporated in the working plans as per new Code.

Status of NTFP in Tripura
Bamboo is one of the main building materials used throughout Tripura. Champa Khampa Tarja (“C K Tarja”) wall made of split muli bamboo was largely used in the houses but the same is being replaced by brick cement wall and GCI sheet walls. Since C K Tarja has shorter life span compared to brick wall and GCI sheet walls, bamboo would need to be replaced at shorter intervals. Besides these, bamboo is largely used for making umbrella handles, agarbatti sticks, fencing, agricultural implements, baskets, fishing rods and varieties of handicrafts items and furniture. Not only this, succulent portion of bamboo shoots is eaten by the Tribals and others as vegetables. Also, looking to the therapeutic properties of bamboo shoots, its consumption is on the rise.
Agartala is a major domestic market for bamboo in the State. A considerable quantity is also sent to Kolkata in the form of umbrella handles and to Bangalore in the form of agarbatti sticks. Muli bamboo is exported to Hindustan Paper Corporation operated Paper Mill at Panchgram in the Barak Valley of Assam. Neighbouring Bangladesh, particularly the Noakhali and Comilla districts of Bangladesh, is also very good market for all kinds of forest products with bamboo and thatch in huge demand.
NTFP Centre of Excellence has brought out a publication on the status of Bamboo Resource Development and its utilization in Tripura, which may be referred to for further detailed information on the subject.
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