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									    DESK REVIEW OF THE EXISTING LEGAL, POLICY, INSTITUTIONAL
   INSTRUMENTS AT THE NATIONAL AND STATE LEVEL RELATED TO
            CONSERVATION OF FORESTS AND WILDLIFE

                     Jayant Kulkarni and Prachi Mehta
             Wildlife Research and Conservation Society, Pune




Study Carried out Under LiveDiverse Project in collaboration with
                           SOPPECOM




                               Draft Paper
                              January 2011
1: Introduction
The main instruments of policy related to conservation of forests and wildlife are the
various Acts, Guidelines of the State and Central Government, and Working Documents
of the Forest Department. The important ones are given below:
   Policy Documents: National Environment policy and State level policy documents
   Acts: Wildlife protection Act, Indian Forest Act, Private forests Act, Private Tree
    felling Act, Biodiversity Conservation Act, Forest Rights Act
   Working Documents of the Forest Department: Working Plan and Management Plan
   Guidelines of National Tiger Conservation Authority regarding activities in Tiger
    Reserves
   Activities of the Forest Department in Chandoli NP: Wildlife Protection, Fire
    protection, Census and Monitoring, Tourism
   Activities of the Forest Department in territorial forests: Forest Protection, Fire
    protection, Plantation, Census and Monitoring, tree felling, soil conservation etc.
   Activities of the Social Forestry Department
   Human wildlife conflict and policy of the Forest Department in this respect such as
    compensation policy
   Practices related to Mining in the area and grant of mining leases
These policy instruments as well as current practices are analysed in this paper.
Comment is made on its impact on the people and the biodiversity wherever required.
The implications will probably have general relevance outside the project area.
The current practices of the Forest Department in respect of management of forests,
wildlife and biodiversity are already described in another paper on history and
management of forest resources written under this project and therefore not described
in detail here.


1: Policy Documents and Actions
1.1 National Environment Policy
The first national forest policy (NFP) was published by the Central government in 1952.
This was replaced by the NFP of 1988. The NFP was replaced in 2006 by the National
Environment Policy (NEP). The NEP is based on the National Forest Policy, 1988; the
National Conservation Strategy and Policy Statement on Environment and Development,
1992; Policy Statement on Abatement of Pollution, 1992; the National Agriculture Policy,
2000; the National Population Policy, 2000 and the National Water Policy, 2002. The NEP
covers a wide range of subjects given below:
Regulatory reforms, Conservation of environmental resources, Environmental standards,
Clean technologies, Environmental education, Capacity-building, Research and
Development and International Cooperation.
The NEP gives an analysis of the causes of environmental degradation which are
summarized below:
Population growth, inappropriate technology, consumption choices and poverty are
some of the causes of environmental degradation. Environmental degradation affects
the poor sections of society the most and perpetuates poverty, especially in the rural
poor. Women are affected more but rarely have a say in its management. Environmental
degradation can also perpetuate and aggravate inequalities in society whereby the poor
are further impoverished though the richer sections may prosper. Poor environmental
quality can adversely affect health. Institutional failures result in third parties facing the
effects of environmental degradation without cost to the agents causing environmental
damage. Traditional checks and balances for protection of village commons failing
causing degradation of these resources. The NEP also talks of policy failures including
subsidies for use of resources that causes degradation of these resources.
Some important objectives of the NEP are (i) Conservation of critical environmental
resources, (ii) Social equity and livelihood for the poor, (iii) conservation of resources for
future generations, (iv) integration of environmental concerns in economic
development, (v) efficient use of resources, good environmental governance and
increased resources for environmental conservation.
The NEP identifies several strategies and actions to achieve environmental conservation.
The strategies outlined are to be implemented through local self government and
flexibility is to be given to design their own strategies in keeping with the overall
framework.
The NEP names the important Acts for achieving environment conservation. These are
the Environment Protection Act, 1986; Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act,
1974; Water Cess Act, 1977; Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981; Indian
Forest Act, 1927; Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and Biodiversity Act, 2002. The NEP
makes a case for revisiting the policy and legislative framework in keeping with the
objectives and principles enunciated in the NEP. “The polluter pays” is an important
principle of the overall policy framework of the NEP.
The NEP strategy is divided into a number of themes. The strategy for some of the
important themes is summarized below.
Land Degradation
Land degradation is sought to be controlled by sustainable land use practices,
reclamation of wasteland and degradation of forest land, watershed management,
reversal of desertification, encouragement of agroforestry.


Desert Ecosystems
Desert ecosystems are to be protected by Water and moisture conservation, expanding
green cover and review of agronomic policies.
Forests
Forests are to be protected and enhanced through a number of strategies. These
include:
i. legal recognition to traditional entitlements of forest dependent communities,
ii. Innovative strategy for increase of the forest cover to 33% from present 23.69%. This
is to be achieved by implementation of multi-stakeholder partnerships, rationalizing
restrictions on cultivating forest species outside forests, joint forest management and its
variants and enhanced public investment in forest conservation.
iii. Restore forests that are diverted to other uses
iv. Appropriate management of natural forests and define them as entities of
incomparable value
v. Cultivation of bamboo and similar species outside forests
vi. Promote plantation only of species conducive to sustainability of ecosystems
Wildlife
Wildlife protection involves several other components such as corridors, protected areas
and resolution of human wildlife conflict. Some of the actions contemplated to bring
about wildlife conservation are:
i. Expand protected area network including conservation reserves and community
reserves and incorporate principles of NEP in their management
ii. Revisit the norms for placing species in various schedules
iii. Conservation of endangered species outside protected areas. Endangered and
charismatic large species are to be named resources of incomparable value.
iv. Promote ecotourism by capacity-building of local people
v. Multi-stakeholder partnership for enhancement of habitat and development of
ecotourism in community and conservation reserves.
vi. Captive breeding of endangered species
vii. Enhance legislation and strengthen measures for prevention of wildlife crime and.
viii. Prevent degradation of habitat due to human activities on outskirts of protected
areas.
Biodiversity and Traditional Knowledge
Biodiversity adds resilience to ecosystems and is a valuable as source of various goods
and products for society. Considerable work has been carried out on biodiversity
inventory and ethnobotany studies. The NEP strategy for biodiversity conservation is
outlined below.
i. Strengthen protection of areas of high endemism.
ii. Greater stress on loss of biodiversity resources due to developmental projects
iii. Ex-situ conservation of genetic resources through gene banks.
iv. Use of the Patent Act, 1970 to protect genetic resources and its harmonization with
the Biodiversity Conservation Act, 2002.
v. Modalities for implementation of informed consent and equitable benefits sharing
with local community. Greater congruence with intellectual property rights


Mountain Ecosystems
Mountain ecosystems are important for forest cover, genetic diversity, watershed,
tourism etc. They have been degraded in the past due to logging and unplanned
development. The strategies proposed for protection of these ecosystems are as
follows:
i. Appropriate land use planning and watershed management
ii. Careful and sensitive development (best practices)
iii. Encourage traditional crops, practices and organic farming
iv. Promote sustainable tourism and multi-stakeholder partnerships and best practices
v. Regulate tourist flow within carrying capacity
vi. Name these ecosystems as incomparable value entities


1.2 Tourism Policy
The Maharashtra Government’s tourism policy has been revised several times. The
latest policy is that of 2006. Detailed strategies are identified to promote development
of tourism. However the tourism policy does not mention anything about impacts of
tourism on the natural resources. It does not contain any strategy for promoting
sustainable tourism, management of impact of tourism pressures on natural resources.
The lack of policy on sustainable tourism shows in the lack of any management
strategies or planning for mitigation of impacts of tourism in natural resources in places
such as Amba where tourism is creating considerable impact on the forests. Forests are
an important natural resource for promotion of tourism. The lack of policy in this respect
reflects on the lack of communication between the Forest Department and Environment
Department with the Tourism Department. It also reflects lack of understanding in the
Tourism Department about the importance of natural resources and the need to protect
these resources.


1.3 Ecotourism Policy
The ecotourism policy has been published by the Forest Department in 2008. The policy
defines ecotourism as “An experience of native culture, study of native flora and fauna
and enjoyment of nature. It is lacking in some of the components of ecotourism that are
included in the accepted definitions of ecotourism such as involvement and benefit to
local community and low impact tourism.
The main principles it enunciates are: (i) Promotion of small scale low impact tourism, (ii)
appropriate tourism from social, cultural and environmental point of view. Ecotourism
shall be a joint activity between the Forest Department and the Tourism Department.
Ecotourism is mainly considered an activity in wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.
The ecotourism policy identifies strategies for development of ecotourism. It does not
talk about managing impacts of ecotourism or about sustainable tourism. It does not
make specific mention of tourism outside protected areas.
There are several drawbacks in this policy. Ideally the ecotourism policy should synergise
with the tourism policy of the Tourism Department. It should outline a clear strategy for
managing impacts of tourism and for promoting eco-friendly, sustainable tourism.


2: Important Acts
2.1 Indian Forest Act, 1927
The British started scientific forestry in the country in the 19 th Century. For this purpose
they started a process of consolidation, legal classification and protection. The
administration of forests in the country was first codified by the British through the
Indian Forest Act, 1865 and later replaced by the Indian Forest Act, 1878. The present
Indian Forest Act, 1927 is based on these earlier acts, especially the Act of 1878.
(http://haryanaforest.gov.in/Act%20and%20Rules/Acts_Rules.aspx)
The Indian forest Act uses several instruments to achieve the purpose of the protecting
the forests and utilization for production of timber and forest produce. These are
described below.
Reservation is the process of declaring forests as government property. Reservation
ensures that forests are protected against destruction by the public and also that the
government has the right over the forest produce from the forest. To carry out
reservation the government appoints a Forest Settlement officer, who is a
representative of the District Collector. The reservation process ensures that the rights
of local people on such forests are protected such as right to pasture, right to forest
produce, right of way and right to water course. The settlement officer settles all these
rights, either by admitting them or rejecting them. If necessary the settlement officer
may acquire the land as prescribed in the Land Acquisition Act. After settlement of rights
the forests are declared reserved forests (Section 20).
Other categories of forests are protected forests and reserved forests. The process for
declaration of Protected Forests (Section 29) is much shorter. In order to settle local
people’s rights the government may carry out an inquiry. However this does not affect
the right of the local people till the completion of the inquiry. Even in protected forest
the government is empowered to declare certain trees as reserved, suspend private
rights and prohibit forest produce, breaking of land and removal of forest produce..
Village forests are forests that are assigned to a village for meeting the requirements of
the villagers (Section 28).
A number of activities are prohibited in reserved forests and protected forests. These
include clearing the land, lighting fire or setting fire, trespass or grazing by cattle, causing
damage to the forest, tree cutting, quarrying, mining, ploughing, hunting, fishing,
Punishment is prescribed persons breaking these provisions (Section 26).
The Act allows the government to put restrictions on land use, carry out works or take
over management of any forest or wasteland including private forest. The government
also has the power to acquire any forest following procedures of the Land Acquisition
Act.
The Act allows the government to impose duties or royalty on timber or forest produce.
The Act allows the government to regulate the transit of forest produce. This includes
prescription of routes for the import or export of forest produce, rules for issue of
import, export and transit passes by the government, provide for stoppage of any forest
produce in transit for checking passes, provide for depots for storage of forest produce
and, regulate or prohibit conversion of timber from one form to another.
The Act makes provisions for penalties and punishment for violating the provisions.
Forest produce in respect of which an offence has been committed may be seized along
with any tools and transportation vehicles. The Act allows a Forest Officers or a Police
Officer to arrest any person who is suspected of committing a forest offence. Forest
offences are liable for trial by a first class magistrate. The Act allows forest officers to
compound small offences by accepting compounding fees from the offender.
In sum the Indian Forest Act makes provisions for establishing the ownership of the
government on any forests, describes punishable actions, enables the government to
levy duty or royalty on forest produce, prevention of forest offences, and describes
procedures for seizure of forest produce and trial of offenders and prescribes
punishment for forest offences.


Implementation
The process of reservation of forests has been completed a long time in the past.
However changes are always taking place and small blocks of forest continue to be
added.
The Act gives the Forest Department substantial powers to prevent forest offences. In
practice the Forest Department has managed to control collection of firewood to a
substantial extent. However local people are generally allowed to collect dry twigs and
branches for firewood. Control of grazing has proved to be far more difficult and the
Forest Department has been relatively unsuccessful in this respect. This is because there
are often few alternatives for grazing land. Illicit cutting of timber is often under relative
control. However it is found that where the demand for these resources is high the
Forest Department is unable to control illicit cutting of timber and firewood. This is often
the case where there is a large town on city near the forest. In such cases there is
considerable extraction of firewood and timber for sale in the markets of these
towns/cities resulting in considerable degradation of forests. Though the act has several
stringent provisions it is often unsuccessful in protecting forests in face of social
pressures.
The Forest Department regulates transit of timber and forest produce by issue of transit
passes, generally issued by an officer of rank Round Officer. Timber is marked by
stamping with passing hammer to ensure that illicit timber is not mixed with the legal
material. Any forest officer can stop vehicles and check them to determine if any illicit
material is being transported without proper pass. The transportation vehicle can be
seized if a forest offence is suspected in respect of forest produce being transported.
In practice prosecutions rate is low in case of forest offences. This is because of several
reasons such as lack of witnesses, reluctance of local people to testify against their own
villagers, poor recording of evidence, lack of competence of lawyers etc.
The Indian Forest Act was drafted during a protection-oriented regime. With adoption of
JFM there has been a partial shift in management strategy from protection to
cooperation. Nevertheless the need for protection of forests is still very high and the Act
is an important instrument for protection of government forests.


2.2 Forest (Conservation) Act
http://envfor.nic.in/legis/forest/forest2.html
Developmental projects such as dams, roads, mines and factories often take away forest
land. This is known as diversion of forest land to non-forest use. Earlier “forests” was on
the state list so decision in this respect was taken by the State Government. In this
manner large areas of forest land was diverted resulting in loss of forests. Concerned by
the large scale diversion of forest land the parliament transferred “forests” to the
concurrent list and enacted the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. The Act has been
amended several times since then. A comprehensive set of rules has been drafted for
implementation of the act, which has been revised from time to time. In its present form
the Act makes the following provisions:
   1. No forest land will be de-reserved, diverted for non-forest use, leased to any
      private agency or cleared of trees without the permission of the Central
      Government
   2. Constitution of Forest Advisory Committee for advising the government on
      matters related to diversion of forest land
   3. Punishment of government officers for wrongful diversion of forest land
   4. Power to make rules regarding diversion of forest land
The rules form the crux of the Forest Conservation Act.
http://megforest.gov.in/forest_acts_rules_notifs_gdlines/rules_forest_conservation_rul
es_2003.pdf
The procedure for diversion of forest land is briefly given below:
A nodal officer is appointed at the headquarters of the Forest Department of each state
for facilitating the implementation of the Forest Conservation Act. The Central
Government has also appointed 5 Regional CCFs for examining proposals for diversion of
forest land.
An agency requesting diversion of forest land must submit a proposal for diversion of
forest land in the prescribed format to the local Deputy Conservator of Forests. The
proposal is forwarded to the State Government by the Nodal Officer after examining
that it is correct and complete. The comments/recommendations of all concerned forest
officers are recorded in the proposal.
For projects involving forest land less than 40 ha the approval rests with the concerned
Regional CCF. For proposals more than 40 ha the approval lies with the Central
Government.
Agencies whose proposals are approved have to carry out compensatory afforestation
on land equal in area to the forest land being diverted. For this purpose they have to
identify land available for afforestation. In case of government agencies they can use
government land for this purpose. Non-government agencies have to purchase private
land for compensatory afforestation. The land so identified and afforested is recorded as
reserved forest and transferred to the Forest Department. Afforestation is carried out by
the Forest Department and the agency has to pay the cost of afforestation (about Rs.
50000/ha).
The project agency has to pay the net present value of the land diverted. The MoEF has
developed a net structure for NPV, which is in the range of a few lakh rupees depending
on the density of the forest.
The Central Government has collected a substantial fund, named CAMPA, from NPV
contributions of project agencies and is considering ways and means of utilizing this fund
for benefiting forests.
The Act was a timely piece of legislation for protecting forests from unrestricted
diversion of forests to development projects. It has been instrumental in preventing
large scale diversion of forests to non-forest use. The Supreme Court has used the Act as
an important tool for preventing mismanagement of forests.


2.3 Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
A new sensitivity for wildlife conservation was seen in the 1970s. In response to this the
government enacted the Wildlife (Protection Act) in 1972. Simultaneously Project Tiger
was also launched in India. The Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi was reportedly
responsible for a number of these environmentally progressive steps. A number of
wildlife research organizations were involved in drafting the Wildlife Protection Act,
notably Bombay Natural History Society. The Wildlife Protection Act is an important Act
for protection of India’s wildlife. The main provisions of the Act are given below.
The Act defines several terms such as circus, wildlife, habitat, hunting, trophy, taxidermy
etc. for the purpose of the Act. The Act includes six schedules (Schedule I to VI) giving
lists of wild animals and plants included in each schedule. Schedule I and Part 2 of
Schedule II are accorded the highest protection under the Act.
The Act provides for declaration of authorities such as National Wildlife Board, Standing
Committee of the Wildlife Board and Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) of each state and
their functions and operational procedures.
The Act prohibits hunting or capture of wild animals. However the Chief Wildlife Warden
may give special permission to hunt wild animals that have become dangerous to human
Life or property. Hunting or capture of Schedule I animals requires permission of the
Central Government. The CWW may also give permission to hunt or capture animals for
special purpose such as education, research, management, population management.
The Act provides for declaring any plant as protected, termed specified plant. The
purpose of this provision is to regulate collection, storage and trade in rare and
endangered plants.
The Act makes provision for declaration of sanctuaries for their ecological, floral,
zoological, natural or geomorphological significance. Like reserved forests sanctuary
notification is a two stage process. After assessing all claims and settling them the final
notification is made for declaring the area a sanctuary. The Chief Wildlife Warden is
authorized to make rules for management of a sanctuary. Possession of firearms in a
sanctuary is prohibited.
The Act provides for declaration of an area as a National Park. A two stage process is
followed for declaration of an area as a National Park. The protection for a national park
is more strict than a sanctuary. However, after the Supreme Court judgement in the
Godavarman case that grazing in a sanctuary is prohibited there is not much difference
between a National Park and a sanctuary.
The amendment of 2003 provides for formation of Conservation Reserve on any land
belonging to the State Government or Central Government for protection of flora, fauna
and their landscape. It is managed by a Conservation Reserve Management Committee.
The 2003 amendment also provides for formation of Community reserve where any
community or individual volunteers for formation of a Community Reserve for
protection of flora, fauna and their landscape. No rights or ongoing activities will be
curtailed by formation of Conservation Reserve or Community Reserve.
The Act provides for a Central Zoo Authority for regulation of function of zoos including
acquisition of animals for a zoo.
The Act regulates trade in trophies, skins and other body parts of wild animals. All
trophies of wild animals are to be registered with the Chief Wildlife Warden and may be
acquired, transferred or sold only with his permission. Trophies in possession of any
person prior to the Act need to be declared to the Chief Wildlife Warden. License may
be granted for trade or manufacture of articles from animal parts. Every licensed
manufacturer of articles made from wild animals needs to declare the stock or inventory
of such articles and wild animal body parts to the CWW and maintain records of such
parts and articles. Dealing with articles made from animals included in Schedule 1 or
Part 2 of Schedule 2 is prohibited.
The Act provides for procedures for seizure of articles in respect of which an offence has
been committed under the Act and defines procedures for dealing with such offences.
The maximum punishment under the Act is imprisonment for 3 years for first offence.
Amendment of 2006
By the Amendment of 2006 the Wildlife Protection Act has made provision for setting up
a National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
Earlier tiger reserve was a management definition. With the Amendment of 2006 tiger
reserve has acquired legal definition. The provisions made for sanctuary are applicable
to a tiger reserve. The amendment talks of ecological concepts such as co-predators,
breeding habitats, corridors, .
The amendment prescribes preparation of a tiger conservation plan for the core zone
and the buffer keeping in view ecologically compatible land uses and compatible
forestry practices to provide corridors and dispersal areas for the tiger. The rights and
developmental needs of the local people are to be ensured. The act also prescribes
relocation of people residing in the critical habitat on a voluntary basis while protecting
their rights under the Forest Rights Act, 2006.
The amendment defines concepts such as core zone, buffer zone and corridors and
states their importance for conservation of tigers. Hitherto the buffer zone was not
legally defined. The Forest Rights Act also prescribes establishment of q Wildlife Crime
Control Bureau.
The NTCA has published guidelines for declaration and management of buffer zones.
Tiger Conservation plans are to be prepared by the State governments around each tiger
reserve. Hence wildlife conservation is extended outside the original tiger reserves (core
zone) into the buffer zone.
The guidelines prepared by NTCA for management of tiger reserves and preparation of
tiger conservation plans gives a list of activities that are allowed in the buffer zone.
Many activities are listed including agriculture, mining, industry etc. However, in practice
there is high possibility that restrictions will be placed on such activities.


2.4 Biological Diversity Act, 2002
This act was declared in 2003 with the objective of conservation of biological diversity,
sustainable use of biodiversity and for equitable sharing of benefits therefrom. It makes
reference to the Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992 which recognizes the
sovereign rights of states to their biological resources.
The Act restricts access of foreign individuals or organizations with foreign participation
to biological resources of the country. Entities are not allowed to transfer biological
resources or knowledge thereof outside the country without permission of the National
Biodiversity Authority (NBA).
The Act provides for formation of a National Biodiversity Authority (NBA). The NBA is
composed of a number of ex-officio members representing various ministries and
knowledgeable members from civil society and representatives of various interest
groups. The Chairperson is an eminent person appointed by the Central Government.
The NBA is empowered to form any number of committees to carry out its duties and
appoint members on such committees.
The NBA is expected to regulate the activities and issue guidelines regarding use, study
and transfer of biological resources and knowledge thereof. The NBA shall advise the
Central government on conservation, sustainable use and equitable benefit-sharing from
biological diversity. It shall advise state governments on areas of biological diversity and
selection of heritage sites. The NBA is expected to protect intellectual rights regarding
biological resources on biological resources obtained or derived from India and
knowledge thereof.
Entities desiring to obtain or transfer biological resource or knowledge thereof for
research or utilisation shall make an application to the NBA. Applications for patents on
biological resources shall be made to the NBA. The term transfer is used frequently in
the Act and means transfer outside the country.
The NBA while giving permission for utilisation of biological resources shall ensure
equitable benefit-sharing with local bodies on agreed terms and conditions. A number of
instruments are recommended for benefit-sharing such as joint ownership, technology
transfer, location of production units, association of Indian scientists with the research,
development and utilisation, payment of monetary compensation etc.
The Act provides for formation of State Biodiversity Boards (SBB). The SBBs shall be
constituted by eminent persons and ex-officio members. The SBB shall advise the State
Government on matters related to conservation and utilization of biological resources
and benefit-sharing thereof. The SBBs shall regulate requests for commercial use of bio-
resources. As yet the Maharashtra State Biodiversity Board has not been formed by the
State Government.
The separation of roles and jurisdictions between the NBA and SBBs is not clear in the
Act.
The NBA shall create a fund from the grants, royalties and funds from other sources
received by it. It shall utilize the fund for benefit-sharing, conservation and research on
biological resources and socio-economic development of areas from where biological
resources are drawn. Similarly the SBB shall also create a fund from the various grants
and royalties received by it.
The Act provides for formation of Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) at the
local level for documentation, conservation, sustainable utilization. The BMC can levy
charges, royalties for collection of biological resources from their territory. The NBA and
the SBB shall consult the BMCs while taking decisions on biological resources in their
territory. The BMC shall constitute a fund for depositing royalties, fees and grants
received by it.
The Act prescribes punishment for contravention its provisions consisting of
imprisonment extending to 5 years and fine extending to Rs. 10 lakh.
The implementation of the Act is yet begin systematically. There are practical difficulties
in the implementation of the Act. Often local people are involved in extraction of
biological resources, which are sold to traders. It will be difficult to ensure that this is
regulated by the BMC, because of social reasons. Biological resources are often found in
the common land or on government land. The Act does not clarify the rights over
extraction of biological resources from these lands, whether they should go to the
government or the community. These issues need to be addressed by the Act.


2.5 The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest
Rights) Act, 2006
This act was introduced to ensure the rights of forest dwellers on forests and forest land
that were not recorded when reserved forests were first established during the British
rule as well as Independent India.
The Act gives rights to forest dwellers over forest land where they reside; access to non
timber forest produce (NTFP) and to timber; wood and bamboo at concessional rates
(nistar); community rights such as fish, water bodies and grazing; conversion to revenue
villages; management of community forest; right to biological diversity and intellectual
rights; other traditional forest rights excluding hunting of wild animals. The Act makes
provision for land for basic community facilities and amenities to all forest dwelling
communities. The forest dwellers must be residing in the forest before December 13,
2005 for recognition of their rights under the Act. The Act allows resettlement of forest
dwellers from critical habitats such as national parks and sanctuaries after their rights
have been established and it is confirmed that their presence will cause irreparable
damage to wildlife and its habitat. The Act places the responsibility of protection of
wildlife, biodiversity, catchments and water sources on forest dwellers.
The Act was opposed by environmentalists and forest officers out of fear that it will
regularise encroachments on forest land in the past and .encourage forest dwellers to
encroach on forests in the future. Encroachments after December 2005 can later be
shown to have taken place before December 2005 with connivance of gram panchayat
authorities. There have been reports that such encroachments have indeed taken place
on forest land after the declaration of the Act but the extent of this is not known.


2.5 Private Forests Acquisition Act, 1975
Section 35 of the Indian Forest Act authorizes the State Government to take over
management of private forests or wastelands for their better management. In 1957 the
State Government had identified survey numbers on private land that could be defined
as forest and issued notices under Section 35(3) of the Indian Forest Act to owners of
these survey numbers asking why these lands should not be taken over for management
by the government. The object of this move was to ensure better management of and
protection of forest on these lands. However no further action was taken following this
notice. In 1975 the State Government enacted the Private Forests Acquisition Act
whereby all land that could be defined as forest was to be acquired and declared as
reserved forest. The same survey numbers that were issued notices in 1957 were
acquired under the Act. There were widespread protests against this acquisition and
people felt victimized by the government. Sensing the widespread sentiment against the
acquisition the government amended the act in 1978 so that only such land was to be
acquired so that at least 12 ha of land remained with the owner after acquisition so as
not to jeopardize their livelihood. After this amendment a major portion of the land
acquired under the Act was transferred to the original owners. A large number of land
holders in the Western Ghats have been affected by acquisition under the Act since a
large percentage of private land in the Western Ghats is non-cultivable because of the
hilly terrain.
Following the act the people are in a state of uncertainty and fear that their land may
again be acquired under some other government order or Act. Hence the Act has not
motivated the people to protect their private forests. Protection of private forests would
have been better achieved if the government had given some kind of incentive for
protection of forests instead of acquiring these lands.


2.6 Private Tree felling Act, 1964
This Act was enacted to regulate felling of trees on private land to prevent loss of tree
cover and consequent damage. The act defines a tree officer of rank of Range Officer to
whom applications are to be made for felling trees. The tree officer cannot refuse
permission for felling dead and damaged trees or those affecting agricultural
production. The applicant has to plant trees equal in number to the trees felled. The act
provides for fine in case trees are felled without obtaining due permission. The
government is empowered to make rules for regulation of tree felling. Fourteen
important tree species are listed as scheduled species for which permission is required
from the Tree officer. For other species permission is required from the Revenue
Department.
The rules of the Tree Felling Act are quite restrictive and procedure for obtaining
permission is cumbersome. The NEP contains recommendations that restrictive rules for
cultivation of forest species and their harvesting and utilization outside the forest are to
re-examined and relaxed if found advisable.


2.7 Supreme Court Order in the Godavarman Case
In the T.N.Godavarman vs. Union of India case the Supreme Court took several other
issues under the scope of this case. It issued orders that had wide ranging impact on
management of forests and wildlife. Some of the important points of its orders were as
follows:
   i.   Gave extensive powers to the Central Government. All non-forestry activities
           were banned without the permission of the Central Government including
           operation of saw mills, veneer and plywood factories. Tree felling banned in
           some areas in North-east and transportation of timber from North-east was
           banned.
   ii. No forestry operations were allowed unless carried out under a working plan
          approved by the Central Government. This was a welcome order since
          several forest divisions were being managed under old Working Plans that
          had expired their period of validity.
   iii. All forests, government or private, attracted the provisions of the Forest
             Conservation Act. This included all land that was recorded as forest in
             Revenue records even though it may not have been declared as reserved,
             protected or village forest under the Forest Conservation Act.
   iv. Livestock grazing and removal of forest produce from sanctuaries and natural
           was banned.
   v. No forest, sanctuary or national park can be denotified without the permission of
         the Supreme Court.
   vi. An authority named the Central Empowered Commission was appointed to assist
          the Supreme Court in implementation of its orders in the Godavarman Case.
In Sindhudurg District Point (ii) above has been has been implemented very seriously.
Survey numbers that have the characteristics of forests have been recorded as forest in
Revenue records. This has been termed as Vansaudnya in the local language. The criteria
for identifying private land as forest is not known and may be ad hoc. However
Vansaudnya has not been implemented in other districts so seriously. Land holders
whose lands have the Vasaudnya stamp face hardship as they cannot carry out
developmental activity on their land and are also deprived of benefits in case of damage
to plantations on these survey numbers since they are expected not to carry out any
non-forestry operations on these lands. They have difficulty in selling such land also.
The Supreme Court orders in the Godavarman case have been highly proactive and have
been very helpful in protection of forests and natural resources. There has been some
criticism also on the grounds that some of its orders have been excessively zealous and
passed without complete knowledge of ground situation causing unexpected and
undesirable effects. On the whole, however, the orders have been beneficial to
environmental protection.


2.8 Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel
Keeping in view the ecological importance of the Western Ghats the Ministry appointed
a committee named the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel for identification of eco-
sensitive Areas (ESA) under chairmanship of Dr. Madhav Gadgil. The WGEEP has been
conducting regular meetings and consultations in order to arrive at objective criteria for
identification of ESAs. At present its position is that it will identify levels of ecological
sensitivity and categorise the Western Ghats into zones of eco-sensitivity levels. It is also
expected to recommend activities that are keeping with objectives of each zone. The
report of the WGEEP is expected to have important implications for management of
biodiversity in the Western Ghats. It may result in restrictions on environmentally
harmful activities in areas of high eco-sensitivity.
According to latest statements of WGEEP it is expected that an authority will be set up
under the Environmental (Protection) Act for management of the environmental and
biodiversity resources of the Western Ghats.
3: Management Policies
3.1 Human Wildlife Conflict
The main categories are crop damage, human injury and death cases and cattle kills. The
Forest Department is responsible for managing Human wildlife conflict (HWC). In case of
species such as leopard or tiger the Forest Department takes steps to contain the
animals by trapping it cages. In extreme cases they may tranquilise the animal or shoot
it. In case of elephants the Forest Department tracks the animals and takes measures to
keep the elephants out of crop fields by bursting crackers and other repellant
techniques. It also educates the people about dos and don’ts in such situations.
Government compensation for HWC is an accepted principle of management of HWC in
India. The purpose of providing compensation is to prevent retaliatory killings against
the wild animals responsible for damage. In Maharashtra compensation is governed by
the GR of 02/07/2010. Compensation for human death is Rs. 2 lakh and for injury is a
maximum of Rs. 50000 depending on the nature of the injury. Compensation for
livestock deaths is awarded at the rate of 75% of its market value provided the body of
the animal can be located. Compensation is also provided for livestock injuries.
Compensation for crop damage was earlier given at the rate of Rs. 2000 per hectare.
Since the rate was very low people generally did not apply for compensation. After
incursions of elephants in southern Maharashtra the government announced a rate of
Rs. 400 per ton for sugarcane and prescribed a fairly good rate structure for plantation
crops such as coconut, betel nut, banana and mango that helped to assuage the feelings
of the affected people.
Compensation for damage to agricultural crops by wild boar and gaur, which are the
main species involved in HWC in the Warna Basin, is rare. The main reason was the low
compensation rate and the lack of awareness in this regard. With announcement of
compensation according to the actual damage farmers may avail of the compensation
provided the Forest Department spreads awareness and facilitates the process.


3.2 Management of Forests
Forests are managed according to a document known as the Working Plan, which is
prepared for a period of 10 years. An important part of working plans concerns the
regime for felling of trees and extraction of timber and firewood. It identifies the areas
where coupes will be marked every year, the silvicultural treatments and felling rules,
and prescribes the quantity of timber production that will be extracted each year. Earlier
implementation of working plans was often continued beyond their prescribed period.
The Supreme Court, through its orders in the Godavarman Case, has banned operation
according to expired working plans. Morevoer it has directed that felling of trees attracts
the provisions of the Forest Conservation Act and requires the permission of the Central
Government. Therefore all working plans now need the approval of the Central
Government before they can be implemented. Nowadays the tendency is to make very
conservative felling prescriptions that will have low impact on forests. This is
necessitated to some extent by the degraded state of forests in many areas due to local
pressure, partly due to increase sensitivity to conservation and also the strict orders of
the Supreme Court in the Godavarman case.
Forests are protected through a system of field staff that patrol the forests regularly on
foot or two-wheelers. Earlier protection of the forest from the depredations of local
people was the most important part of the field staff’s duty. Nowadays the attitude is
more towards cooperation between the local people and the Forest Department due to
introduction of JFM.


3.3 Wildlife Management
Wildlife management is carried out according to a document known as the Management
Plan. Earlier many wildlife sanctuaries and National Parks were managed without
management plans. Nowadays the Central Government refuses to give funds unless the
sanctuaries have management plans. Hence management plans have been prepared for
most sanctuaries. Protection of the habitat and wildlife is the most important duty of
field staff of sanctuaries and national parks. Other duties are monitoring of wildlife,
tourism management and development, and habitat conservation.


3.4 Joint Forest Management
Forests all over India face anthropogenic pressures from local people who are
dependent on these forests for several needs. Since the local people have no incentive
to protect these forests they extract forest produce from these forests without care for
their protection or sustainability.
The concept of Joint Forest Management arose in Arabari village in West Bengal in the
1980s. Here the local Forest officer made an agreement with the villagers that they
would be given a share of the profit from the exploitation of the forest through tree
cutting whenever it took place. In return they were expected to protect the forest and
retrain from unrestricted utilization. This paid excellent dividends and the local people
protected the forest well. The experiment was widely acclaimed and imitated.
Joint Forest Management is therefore an arrangement between the Forest Department
and local people whereby the profits obtained by exploitation of the forest is shared
according to some pre-decided formula. In return for this benefit the people are
expected protect the forest till it is ready for harvesting.
From 1990 the Central government strongly promoted JFM and instructed all State
Governments to implement JFM. All State Governments passed government resolutions
defining the structure of JFM and the profit-sharing arrangement with the local people.
At present the general form of JFM in all states is as follows:
   i.   JFM committees are formed in all villages having forest area within its
           boundaries. A JFM committee normally consists of all willing adult members
           of the village. An executive committee is formed having 11 members (In
           Maharashtra). The President and the treasurer are village members while the
           member-secretary is an officer of rank forester.
   ii. Regular (monthly) executive committee meetings are held to manage the
          operation of the JFMC. General Body meetings are held at least once a year.
          The proceedings are recorded by the member-secretary.
   iii. The JFMC opens a bank account to manage its funds. The account is operated by
           the President and the Treasurer. The member-secretary assists the
           committee members to operate the bank account.
   iv. Funds are received by the JFMC members through plantation schemes of the
          Forest Department and as share of profit from exploitation of forest.
   v. Technical aspects of forestry such as making plantation estimates and
         implementing plantations are managed by the forest guard or round officer.
   vi. The JFMC members are expected to protect the forests allocated to them by
          patrolling, control of forest fire, regulating grazing and protection from
          firewood and timber collection.
   vii. The Forest Department often carries out developmental activities in the village
           and trains people in alternative livelihoods.
JFM has helped to improve the relations of the Forest Department with the local
community and has helped to some extent to reduce the pressure on forests. However it
has not achieved the desired success in terms of improving the status of forests. There
are several reasons for this:
   a. The scheme has been poorly implemented by the concerned forest officers.
   b. Where the forests are degraded there is low possibility of profits from forests.
      Often timber harvesting is not carried out in hilly tracts because of danger of
      erosion. Hence there is little incentive for the people to protect it.
   c. In many cases the waiting period for receiving profits from timber harvesting is
      very long and people are not assured that they will receive any benefits. Where
      rotation periods are high there is little intermediate income to JFM committees.
      In some states such as MP the Forest Department has devised systems for
      interim benefits to JFMCs by creating a pool of funds at the division level and
      sharing it with all JFMCs. This creates intermediate incentive for the JFMCs to
      protect the forest. But in many states most JFMCs have never received any profit
      from harvesting of timber.
   d. In most cases there is high dependency of people on forests. No alternatives
      have been provided for meeting these dependencies. In absence of alternatives
      it is difficult for people to curtail or stop their dependency on forests. Resource
      planning at the JFMC level is an important need that has been overlooked by
      implementers.
Because of these reasons most JFMCs have not become self-sufficient. In most divisions
the process of JFMC formation is incomplete - JFMCs have not yet been formed in many
villages in each division.
Another problem with JFM is that it promotes fast-growing plantation type of forestry.
There is low incentive for natural forest that may be diverse in terms of number of
species but that may not give the kind of monetary returns that JFMCs expect. This is a
major drawback with the JFM concept, and, in fact, with commercial forestry.
Forest Development Agency
The National Afforestation and Ecodevelopment Board (NAEB) funds plantation
programs of the State Government. There used to be considerable delay in delivery of
funds to the concerned forest divisions. From 2003 the Central Government promoted
the Forest Development Agency (FDA) structure in all states. The FDAs are essentially a
funding mechanism to expedite the funding process by bypassing the State Government
mechanism. The present National Afforestation Program (NAP) of NAEB is routed
entirely through FDAs.
FDAs are set up as Societies under the Societies Act of 1860. JFMCs are members of
FDAs. The FDA executive committee consists of the Conservator of Forests, Deputy
Conservator of Forests, District level officers of various line Departments of the Stage
Government and representatives of the JFMCs. The funds received by FDAs are
channeled to JFMCs for plantation work.
Setting up FDAs has neither resulted in notable improvement in functioning of JFM nor
significantly expedited transfer of funds.


3.5 Social Forestry
Social forestry is the plantation of trees outside forests on private land, government land
and commons. The objectives of social forestry were to develop timber and firewood
resources in private land thereby reducing pressure on forests and to increase tree cover
on non-forest land. In Maharashtra the Social Forestry Department was formed as a
sister department to the forest Department but at present it is placed under the Water
Resources Ministry. It carries out plantations on private land, public land and also sells
plants at concessional rates to farmers for plantation on their agricultural land. Social
forestry received considerable support in the 1980s and social forestry plantations were
carried out on large areas. At present its activities in Maharashtra are relatively limited.
It does not receive much funds so its plantation targets are also low.


3.6 Mining
Mining leases are periodically announced by the State Government for all minerals
except coal and applications are invited from interested persons for the leases. After
receiving the lease rights the person needs to apply for environmental permission under
the Environmental Protection Act. In case of mines < 50 ha (Category B) the permission
is granted by the State Expert Advisory committee and for larger projects (Category A)
the permission is granted by the Central Expert Advisory committee. The EAC gives
terms of reference for conducting environmental impact assessment (EIA) study. If the
EAC is satisfied with the EIA it gives its report to the MoEF which issues permission. The
permission may be subject to conditions regarding operation, environmental
management and conservation of wildlife and natural resources on and around the
mine. If forest area is to be diverted permission is required under the Forest
Conservation Act for diversion of forest land. After receiving these permissions the
company has to seek permission from the State Pollution control Board for operating
the mine.
The WGEEP has been asked by the Ministry to give its recommendations on several
environmental issues related to setting up of industries in Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri
Districts and also its opinion on mining in these districts.
At present there are a few bauxite mines operating at Udgiri and Girgav villages in
Warna basin. The Udgiri mines are in close proximity to the Chandoli NP. They create a
break in the continuity of the forest landscape of Western Ghats. The future of mining in
Western Ghats is dependent to the recommendations of the WGEEP and subsequent
decisions of the Central Government in this regard.

								
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