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Tribal Rights and Heritage Conservation in the Western Ghats of Karnataka

In the context of Karnataka, the implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 in the heritage sites of the Western Ghats makes for an important case study of how the concerns of tribals and indigenous people are often marginalised in the debates around conservation. Analysing the process of assigning heritage status to the sites located in the state, reports of government committees on the conservation and global studies show that conservation models that vouched for exclusion of human habitants in ecologically sensitive areas failed to conserve biodiversity. Hence, the adoption of an inclusive and participatory approach is the need of the hour.

Forest Rights Act

The implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 has been opaque and there is serious lack of awareness about its provisions not only among the benefi ciaries but also among the officials in charge of implementing it. Given the complaints from either side, it is time the government reviewed the law and also looked at the objections raised when it was first tabled as a bill.

Forest Rights Act

This paper, based on an empirical study in Chhattisgarh and Gujarat, attempts to examine the land and livelihood facets of forest dependent people following the claims made by them under the Forest Rights Act. It also touches upon factors influencing livelihoods such as source of irrigation, crop yield, forest produce collection, and livestock holdings to examine the respondents' socio-economic conditions. The findings revealed that the land received by the beneficiaries was very meagre in proportion to what they claimed. Besides, the study once again reiterates that forest cover was not disturbed as feared by those opposing this Act simply because no new land in the forest was given to the claimants. The land in fact was just recognised legally with the help of documents as proof that they have been occupants for long or at least from 2005 onwards. However, for those who got legal recognition over their land, it has boosted their confidence. They now feel the real ownership of their plots which led to investing in their lands without any fear about secure livelihoods.

Implementation of the Forest Rights Act

This article looks into the implementation of the Forest Rights Act based on a critical review of literature. Besides examining the process of implementation of the Act, it also attempts an overview of the issues involved and the challenges ahead.
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