Which laws govern the protection of forests in India?

Sustainable Management of forest resources falls within the scope of responsibilities of the Central and State Governments. The Indian Forest Act, 1927 provides the overarching legal framework for the management and protection of the nation’s forest resources but the formulation an implementation of programs is conducted by the state government, hence the rules and regulations enforced by each state differ based on the unique flora and fauna that exists in those states.

Here’s looking at the laws that have shaped the protection of forest land, other resources and forest-dwelling communities in India:

Indian Forest Act, 1927

The Indian Forest Act, 1927 provides the legal framework for the management of forests in India. It is the foremost guiding legislation in forestry. The objective of this piece of legislation is to ensure:

-consolidation and preservation of areas with forest cover

-conservation of forest areas with wildlife

-regulate the movement of forest resources

-levy duty on timber and other resources and other forest produce

-categorization of areas into Reserved Forest, Protected Forest and Village Forests

Forest Conservation Act, 1980

The Forest Conservation Act, 1980 focuses on the diversion of forest areas for non-forestry purposes. The State government acts as the enforcing authority for all requests and proposals to use forest land for development and infrastructure building such as providing drinking water, irrigation projects, transmission lines, railway, power, defence, mining etc. The Act also provides that for all forest land lost to such development–compensatory afforestation, catchment area treatment, biodiversity and wildlife conservation, rehabilitation of tribal communities living on forest lands are matters that should be addressed by the state and other parties involved.

National Forestry Policy, 1988

The policy lays emphasis on the concept of Joint Forest Management where villages and the relevant forest department manage specific forest blocks together to

-meet the basic needs of rural and tribal populations,

-increase forest productivity

-improve the efficiency of forest product utilization

-minimize pressure on existing forests

The Joint Forest Management scheme is perhaps the best and most effective strategy to have emerged from the National Forestry Policy with 85, 000 village committees set up across 27 Indian states managing 17.3 million hectares of forest land under them.

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

This Act focuses on the protecting wild animals, plants and tree species and makes hunting and collecting such animals and plants in protected areas a criminal offence. Bodies like the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Tiger and Other Endangered Species Crime Control Bureau (Wildlife Crime Control Bureau).

Schedules Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition and Forest Rights) Act, 2006

This Act came into the play to exclusively grant rights and concessions and to protect the way of life of forest-dependent communities that depend on forests for their daily subsistence their livelihoods.

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