This article is written by Sangeet Kumar Khamari of KIIT School of Law, Bhubaneswar, Odisha. This article talks about the types of forest and different amendments of the Indian Forest Act, 1927.
Definition of ‘Forest’ (as defined in Indian forest act, 1927) is an area occupied by the Government for conservation and management of biological and ecological resources is called a forest.
The constitutional status of the forest:
- The State attempted to take necessary steps for the protection and improvement of the environment and for safely guarding the forest and wildlife.
- Every Indian citizen has the right to protect and develop the natural environment like lakes, rivers, forests and wildlife and should show kindness towards the living creatures.
Types of Forest Land under the Indian Forest Act, 1927
The private forests are those which are not occupied by the Government. According to the Indian Forests Act, 1927, the Government is commanded to regulate timber cutting and cultivation etc. in private forest land and also allow the state government to capture the forest land for the public purposes.
Public forests are of three types:
- Reserved Forests
- Village Forests
- Protected Forests
Reserved Forest (Section 3)
These are the forests which are reserved by the Government. More than half of the forest area in India is declared as a Reserve forest. 53% of the total forests in India are the Reserved Forests. For the conservation of the forests and wildlife resources, the Government reserves these forests. The activities like hunting and cutting the trees are strictly banned in these forests. Only on special permissions by the higher authorities, these activities may be performed unless and until there is a valid reason for performing it. According to the Indian Forest Act, 1927, the reserved forests come under chapter II. Some Reserved Forests in India are:
Name of the Reserved Forest
State in which it is present
Hanumasagara Reserve Forest
Begur Reserve Forest
Attappadi Reserve Forest
Sholayar Reserve Forest
Village Forests (Section 28)
According to the Indian Forests Act, 1927, the State Government can give the rights to any village group, which the Government has over any land which has been reserved. Rules for regulating the management of the forest to be made by the State Government. In this type, two interchangeably terms are used- one is the village forest itself and the other one is a forest village, and both are different from each other. The village forest is in legal category under the Indian Forests Act, 1927, whereas the forest village lies in the administrative category in the Act.
Name of the village forest
State where it is located
Dooars, West Bengal
Bhavnagar Amreli Forest
Gir National Park, Amreli district, Gujarat
South of the Kamyaka Forest
Protected Forests (Section 29)
The third most classification is “protected forest”. The Indian Forest Act empowers the State Government to use any land as protected forest. It must be noted that these forests are not reserved under the state government. A protected forest can be a reserved forest but a reserved forest cannot be a protected forest. Under these forests, the Government has the power to make rules and restrict uses of the forest. But in the lapsing of these rules, many practices under these forests are allowed. Other than this, the State also has some power to reserve some species of trees in these forests. These powers are provided so that the state can have control over the trees, whose timber, fruits and non-wood products have revenue-raising potential.
The Forest (Conversation) Act, 1980
The Forest Conservation Act, 1980 is a Central Act of Parliament which conserves the forest. Section 2 of the act makes a provision of a prior approval of the Central Government necessary before a State Government or any other authority that issues direction for reserved forests (which have been reserved under the Indian Forest Act 1927), use of forest land for non–forest purpose, assigning forest land by way of lease or otherwise to any private person or to any authority, corporation, agency or any other organization not owned, managed or controlled by the government and clear felling of naturally grown trees.
The objectives behind the Act
- To expand the establishment of forestry by confirming long term harvest levels based on the availability of best scientific information.
- To be sure at a high term forest productivity and saving the resources of the forest by afforestation, soil conservation and many more measures.
- To keep the quality of water good in lakes, streams, and other water bodies.
- To handle the nature and distribution of wildlife habitats and add that to the conservation of biological diversity by the development and implementation.
- To handle the visible impact of cultivation and other forest activities.
- To tell everyone the efficiency of the use of forest resources.
- To expand the practice of forestry through advanced programs.
- To make improvements for forest research, technology and science.
- To make the forest management better by appointing the resource professional, contractors by conducting training and educational programs.
- Words to agree with applicable federal, state, provincials or local news and regulations.
- To expand the activities in forestry by cheering the public and forestry community to take part in the commitment to forestry and report progress publicly.
- To cheer for continuous improvement in the activities practising in the forestry.
- To apply for reforestation after harvesting and keep them productive.
- To save the forest from wildfire, diseases, pests and other harmful organisms and hence, to keep up the productivity and improve the forest-land base in the long term.
- To keep the forest-land safe and maintain soil productivity.
- To save the water bodies in the forests.
- To make the forest land as so special that it could have unique qualities and also perform a diversity of habitats in wildlife.
- To agree with the state rules and orders which are related to the Environmental laws, regulations and statutes.
- To make continuous profits by practising the activities of forest management and also take care and report the performance to the forestry.
Scope and Applicability
The Forest (Conservation Act), 1980 is applicable to whole India including Jammu and Kashmir. It came into power on 25th October 1980. On this day the Forest (Conservation) Ordinance was also broadcasted.
Restriction on Dereservation of Forests or Use of Forests for Non-Forest Purposes [Section 2]
Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 enforces the restriction on dereservation of forests or use of forests for non-forest purposes. The restrictions are as follows:
- Any of the reserved forests shall cease to be reserved if any law is applicable to the state or any portion of the reserved forest.
- Any portion of the forest land can be used for the non-forest purpose.
- Any of the forest lands which are assigned by the way of lease to any private person, corporation, agency which are not owned, managed or controlled by the government.
- For the purpose of using reafforestation, the trees which have grown naturally in any forest land may be cleared.
The appeal before the National Green Tribunal (Section 2A)
Section 2A of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 states that any person is unhappy by the order of the State Government and that some other authorities may file an appeal under Section 3 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 to the National Green Tribunal in accordance with the rules of that act.
Tarun Bharat Sangh, Alwar v. Union of India
The petitioner Tarun Bharat Sangh, who was interested in environmental protection, wanted to make Sariska Tiger Park which is a tiger reserve which was located in Rajasthan, as a reserve forest because many people were illegally using that area for mining. When he asked the State Government then the State Government said it can’t be declared as a reserve forest, but when he said the same to the Supreme Court of India then the Court formed a committee which consisted of the State authorities, forest officers who were experts within chairmanship of a retired judge. After the meeting, the Court ordered not to do mining in that land and the committee should ensure the obedience, enforcement and implementation of the order. And also they were asked to compensate for the damage done.
Constitutional of Advisory Committee (Section 3)
According to Section 3 of the Act, it is given that the Central Government constitutes of a group of a number of persons on the basis of their knowledge so that they may be enough fit to give advice to the Government with respect to:
- The restriction regarding Section 2 of the Act.
- Any matter of which is related to conservation of forest which can be said to the Central Government.
Penalty for contravention of the provision for Act
According to Section 3A of the Act states that if a person breaks or avoids any of the provisions mentioned under Section 2 of this Act shall be punished with simple imprisonment up to 15 days.
Offences by the authorities and the Government.
According to Section 3B of this Act, when an offence has been committed by any department of government or by any authority, every person who was present in that time when the offence was committed will be directly charged for the offence and held responsible for it if found to be guilty for the offence than they would be punished. If the head of the department or any person who is accused of an offence, proves that he/she has committed the offence by mistake or without knowledge then he/she will not be held liable for such offences.
The National Forest Policy, 1988
The National Forest Policy of 1988 gives the protective duties of the forests in supporting environmental stability and ecological balance.
The general objectives that were ruled the National Forest Policy, 1988 were as follows:
- To maintain the environment stability through care and also recovering of the ecological balance that has been disturbed by a heavy reduction of forests in India.
- Reserving the natural heritage of India by protecting the remaining natural forests with varieties like Flora and Fauna, which represent the biological diversity of India.
- Testing the soil erosion and the process of erosion in the banks of rivers, lakes and reservoirs for reducing the floods and drought.
- Preventing the increase of sand-dunes in the desert areas of Rajasthan and coastal tracts.
- Through massive afforestation and social foresting programs, especially on degraded and unproductive land helps in increasing the forest across the country.
- Rural and tribal populations meet the requirement for fuelwood, fodder, small timber and minor forest products.
- By increasing the production of the forest for the essential needs.
National Forest Policy, 2016
Green Tax on Citizens
The National Forest Policy (NFP) established the levy of green tax for promoting ecologically responsible behaviour and providing financial resources which are essential to address forestry.
Draft Policy Undermines the Forest Rights Act
NFP ignores the Forests Rights Act, 2006 which has control only in the area of local Gram panchayat, mainly in tribal places which are close to India’s forests and makes joint forest management for the enchantment of agroforestry.
Forest Management Mission to promote Supply to Wood Industry
The policy plans to launch a new community forest management mission, gathering the Government, private land and community under the new planned management system. It wants to make one-third of the Government-owned forests under the community forest management regime by the end of the coming decade. The policy also suggests the contracts within the forest-dependent industries and farmers to make a fixed price and quantity to make a sure supply for the wood industry.
Technology to Minimise Damage to Forests
The policy talks about the forest land diversion projects which are related to mining, construction of dams, roads and other small infrastructure which are needed to be chosen for some special cautions. To reduce the pollution and damage, state of the art technology should be used.
Board to Monitor Management of Forests
The policy says that the National Board of Forestry and State Board of Forestry should be made to ensure the control of the spread in forest areas and management of forest cover.
Provision for responsible tourism
The policy says that for supplementing the livelihood needs of local communities they must be developed on sound ecotourism models with a focus on conservation. As per the policy, tourism is responsible for any negative impact on wildlife and its inhabitants. Tourism would also be responsible for any reduction in income or loss of revenue of the local communities.
Climate change to emerge as an important factor in policy
This policy states that climate change should be an important factor if some plans are in all the forest management plans and community management plans.
Purchase of Wildlife Corridors
The policy specifies that for purchasing wildlife corridors from people CMPA (Compensatory afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) funds are to be used.
Maintaining Urban Forests
This policy asks for the management plans for the forest, parks, gardens which are present in cities to nourish and sustain the health and clean air.
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