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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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