India’s Poor Forest Governance And What Needs To Be Done

Like anywhere in the world, forests in India is not just an environmental resource. It is a valuable social resource as well. Many households from vulnerable sections, derive their full or potential livelihood support from forest. But, more often, forest dwelling communities end up harvesting forest at unsustainable pace. India’s poor forest governance should also be blamed for the present status of our forests.

Prelims Pointers

  • National Forest Policy, formulated in 1988, empowered forest dwelling communities.
  • The concept of Community Forest Resource Right (CFRR) was introduced in India in 2006 through the Forest Rights Act
  • Community Forest Resource Right (CFRR) is supposed to promote sustainable harvest of forest produce that is beneficial for both: forest dwelling communities and forest. Gram Sabhas has a role to play in conserving and protecting forests.

Mains Special: Challenges and Solutions

Challenges

  • Forest dwelling communities don’t have access to scientific knowledge. Hence, they are unable to manage forests sustainably.
  • They are also ignorant about the legal knowledge. They don’t know about forest laws and the role of institutions. Hence, neither they could report nor stop forest offences.
  • And, the impost importantly there is mutual distrust between forest dwelling communities and the government agencies.

Solutions

  • Recognize the CFRRs to Gram Sabhas under the Forest Rights Act
  • Define the responsibilities of Gram Sabhas and government agencies separately
  • State forest department should have more role to play as far as checking forest offences is concerned.
  • There is need to develop detailed roles and responsibilities of state forest departments and Gram Sabhas.
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