ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Forest DepartmentSubscribe to Forest Department

Protected Areas, Forest Rights, and the Pandemic

The complex nature of contestation between the forest department and the local communities (that is, Van Gujjars) in the Rajaji National Park is explored, with special reference to the recent violent ­attacks by the forest department officials on Van Gujjars. An analysis of the intricate aspects related to the claims of both the Van Gujjars and the forest department underlines that the existence of legal pluralism in forest governance creates a situation of legal indeterminacy, which has been used by the forest department to overlook and violate the demands of local communities.

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.

Problems with the Eco-Sensitive Zone

Eco-Sensitive Zones are being touted by the government as transition zones around protected forest areas, that would minimise forest depletion and man-animal conflict. This report, from the Corbett National Park, suggests how ESZs marginalise local interests and would prove detrimental to conservation in the long run.

Social Capital and Collective Action

With the retreat of the interventionist state, development is often perceived as a product of partnership between the state and civil society with increasing emphasis on people's participation at the grass roots. Using a framework of collective action based upon social capital, this paper examines whether social capital is important for successful development outcomes at the grass roots in forest protection and watershed development. Three villages of Adilabad district in Andhra Pradesh are the focus of the study.

Case for Local Forest Management

The paper argues that forests are not only sources of timber and non-timber forest products, but also of environmental services. It is through the fall in the supply of local environmental services, like nutrient recycling and soil formation, that forest communities bear the external costs that are not included in the price of timber and other forest products. Local environmental services are taken into account in forest management decisions by local communities, but not by external agents, like forest departments, and form a basis for setting up local forest management systems. In arguing for the establishment of forest communities' property rights over forests, the paper supports the establishment of markets for regional and global environmental services provided by forests.

Indigenous Communities' Knowledge of Local Ecological Services

Forest planners and forest departments have long ignored local ecological services provided by forests, of which forest communities, have knowledge of, and on which the economic, social and political life of the area is dependent. Joint Forest Management (JFM) is restricted to management of forests as providers of forest and non-timber forest products. This paper investigates in detail the extensive indigenous knowledge of such local ecological services among a forest community. It argues that local ecological services are the missing link in designing plans for successful decentralisation and sustainable management of forests. Enlisting such local knowledge, as is done in this paper, is the first step to incorporating it in the management of forests.

Forests Are for Burning

The forest fires raging in the hills of northern India for more than two months now are not only leaving a trail of destruction but are illuminating, in no uncertain way, the consequences of a narrow concept of environmental protection, one not organically linked to current understanding of development. The fires are just the most visible signs of a piecemeal approach to protecting forests, of delinking people from processes. In their glare, the state's calculations in incorporating environmental 'concerns' in its agenda lie exposed.
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