Jaya Prakash Rao
Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India
Fellow Since 1994
This profile was prepared when Jaya Prakash Rao was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1994.
The New Idea
While the idea of joint forest management is not new or original, what makes Jayaprakash Rao's idea different from other unsuccessful attempts is its demonstration of a new way of dealing with the politics of forest use and reforming forest use management in light of this re-visioned politics. JP, as Jayaprakash is universally known, is working to mobilize citizen groups to gain control over their forest resources, its protection, regeneration and intelligent use through activating traditional tribal and non-tribal social management structures (tribal councils, panchayat village committee, the village head, and so on).Fully aware that this in isolation will not help the situation, JP has carefully designed and demonstrated creative mechanisms and management systems that address changing political and economic equations in the process of institutionalizing infrastructure and resource sharing between people's forest management committees and the government's Forest Department. JP's core idea is based on the principle that ultimately, the community is best equipped to protect and manage forests. His trick is to shift the priority for forest use from industry (for timber or fuel) to the locals who live with the forest. His method is to build a series of local level institutions that can advocate successfully for local, sustainable forest use management.