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Forest Policy of India

Forest Policy of India

Introduction

  • Forests have unique significance as they provide various services. 
  • On the one hand they are home to many diverse species – both flora and fauna and on the other hand, they are key for climatic equilibrium. 
  • Also, they are home for the large tribal population. These signify the need of policies that would be designed to conserve forests.

Background

  • The British era Forest policies were mainly designed to exploit the forest reserves. 
    • Post-independence the importance of the forest management was identified. India introduced Forest Policy for the first time in 1952. 
    • The main objective of the policy was to increase the forest cover to 33%. It set up a Central Board of Forestry. It propounded balanced use of land pattern.
  • In 1988, second Forest policy was drafted. 
    • The main aim was the maintenance of environmental equilibrium by preservation and restoration of ecological balance. 
    • It gave importance to large-scale afforestation and social forestry. 
    • This saved forest land from diversion and promoted wildlife protection.
  • Despite these policies, the forest cover (22%) is still well below the targeted 33%. 
  • Additionally, India has committed to building a carbon sink of 3 billion tonnes of Carbon dioxide as its INDC at Paris summit. Thus, the forest conservation needed breathe of freshness. 
  • In this scenario, a new draft Policy has been envisaged.

What is the National Forest Policy 1988? 

  • NFP 1988 aimed at preserving the remaining natural forests and for considerably increasing the forest cover in the country. 
  • It prohibited the private sector from growing plantation on forestland and promoted them to get raw materials directly from farmers. 
  • It also entitled ownership rights over trees to the forest-dependent weaker sections for effective conservation efforts.
  • It encouraged the replacement of wood with other materials. 

Objectives And Provisions Of The Draft National Forest Policy 2018 | Forest Policy of India

  • To safeguard the ecological and livelihood security of people, of the present and future generations.
  • To address the issue of climate change, NFP, 2018 contributes to the forestry-related Nationally Determined Contribution Targets and by integrating, “climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in forest management through the mechanism of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus) so that the impacts of the climate change is minimised”.
  • Sustainable management of the forests for the flow of ecosystem services
  • The lands available with the forest corporations which are degraded and underutilised will be managed to produce quality timber with scientific interventions. Public private participation models will be developed for undertaking afforestation and reforestation activities in degraded forest areas and forest areas available with Forest Development Corporations and outside forests
  • The document proposes creation of a community forest management mission for the community resource management under Forests Rights Act.
  • The draft policy document also talks about degraded land and how it can be improved by undertaking afforestation activities using public private partnership models
  • To manage problem animals, establish rescue centres and develop a team of well-equipped and trained personnel.
  • Voluntary and attractive relocation packages of villages from within national parks, other wildlife rich areas and corridors should be developed. Such areas should be effectively secured by strengthening enforcement, restoring habitats and establishing ecological corridors.
  • It also suggests setting up of two national-level bodies—National Community Forest Management (CFM) Mission and National Board of Forestry (NBF)—for better management of the country’s forests.

Concerns Raised Against The Provisions Of Draft National Forest Policy (NFP), 2018

  • Identifies threats to forests but does not provide systems for community involvement.
  • Talks about increasing forests, including for commercial purposes, through public-private partnerships, it does not create a mechanism for including those who live around forests.
  • People’s Biodiversity Registers (PBRs) and Biodiversity Management Committees are not integrated which in turn will fail in setting up a system of efficient natural area monitoring.
  • Also fragmentation of forests due to the ill-planned intrusion of developmental projects is being left unattended.
  • In the context of ground-truth, an area that looks green, such as tea estates and commercial plantations, have been counted as forests.
  • Even if forest cover is being increased, it is also simultaneously being lost, and new forest may also be subsequently lost.

Conclusion  |Forest Policy of India

  • Forests are the lungs through which the earth breathes. 
  • With the threat of global warming increasing, the survival of the forests needs to be given high priority. 
  • Hence, the draft Forest Policy needs to make certain amends so that it is centred around Forest conservation.

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Environment & Biodiversity

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