The Centre is planning to conduct an exclusive socio-economic survey of the people living in and around forest areas to bring forth the role of forest products and ecosystem in their lifestyle.
The Union Environment and Forests Ministry says the exercise is necessary to assess the dependence of villagers on forests for livelihood, especially in the perspective of lifestyle change.
"The survey shall entail collecting information on socio-economic status of the people living in and around forest areas and their dependence on the forests for their livelihood needs," states the new National Working Plan Code adopted by the ministry.
The code, prepared by the Forest Research Institute (FRI), an arm of the ministry, says that available information on socio-economic status of the people living in forest fringe villages should be collected and assessed to bring forth the role of forest products and ecosystem in their lifestyle.
It says that the socio-economic survey should include dependency on timber, fuel wood, fodder, grazing and other non-timber forest produces, and livelihood aspects.
"Since this is also a very important aspect of forestry, it has to be done with all seriousness," says the National Working Plan Code for 2014.
The government may seek help from sociologists, economists, socio-economists and recognised institutes to conduct the survey.
Spelling out the steps to be taken to conduct the survey, the code says villages situated within the limit of 3 km will be considered as forest fringe villages.
Stratified multi-stage random sampling will be followed for the socio-economic survey. The first stage sampling units will be the fringe villages and the second stage sampling units will be the households.
The FRI says the code was developed over a period of five years by involving as many organisations and individuals as possible. According to the latest survey, the forest cover in the country has decreased by 367 sq kms.