The tradition of conserving forests through informal village level institutions already exists in many forests fringe villages of the state. In the recent past many significant efforts have been made by the State Forest Department, more particularly, through the Odisha Forestry Sector Development Project (OFSDP) Phase- I, for strengthening and supporting such community based initiatives. The experience gained under OFSDP Phase- I reveals that with the support provided by the Government, in terms of finances and capacity up-gradation, the outcome has further improved both in terms of conservation and management of the natural resources. At the same time the forest fringe communities' are also immensely benefitted through income generation activities.
Out of about 12500 VSSs, existing in Odisha, so far, 2426 VSS , have already been covered under the OFSDP Phase I project (2006-07 to 2014-15). The balance 10,000 VSSs also need to be assisted for promotion of sustainable co-management of forest . Out of these about 3000 VSSs are proposed to be covered under the OFSDP Phase- II which is now under active consideration of JICA.