This volume is the 4th in the ongoing "Man and Forest" series -- a series trying to highlight the relevance of 'indigenous knowledge' of various tribal communities in the sustainable management of forests and local resources -- more specially against the growing challenges of economic development vis-a-vis environmental hazards and a declining resource base.
Orissa's forests, covering a little over 57,000 sq km (or 36.72% of the state's geographical area), are known to have a profusion of 'minor forest produce' (MFP) which has been upgraded due to its importance for tribal livelihood and is called Essential Forest Produce (EFP) through the book. It comprises simple fodder and fuelwood to baffling medicinal herbs, besides numerous economically important plants yielding dyes, tannin, fibres, flosses, essential oils, edible fruits, seeds, leaves, honey among many other items. Yet, despite its enormous economic potential, about three-fourths of this forest wealth has so far been unutilized by the tribal communities largely because of its inaccessibility.
With a holistic "product profile" of Orissa's forests, an eminent anthropologist here looks for the rationale behind the vastly deficient utilization of its EFP -- identifying the entire range of causes: from the tribals' incapacity to reach this forest resource to their exploitation by middlemen/traders/moneylenders to the larger forest policy issues. Dr Patnaik also proposes measures which would help tribals not only to actualize the inherent potential of EFP but, in turn, strengthen their economy as well.
It is a painstaking empirical study of interest to social anthropologists, environmental activists, foresters, development economists, forest resource economists planners and policy-makers.