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

Forest Rights ActSubscribe to Forest Rights Act

Promise and Performance of the Forest Rights Act

The Forest Rights Act, 2006 has the potential to democratise forest governance by recognising community forest resource rights over an estimated 85.6 million acres of India’s forests, thereby empowering over 200 million forest dwellers in over 1,70,000 villages. However, till date, only 3% of this potential area has been realised.

Political Economy of Community Forest Rights

The various dilutions, contradictory policies and litigations challenging the constitutional validity of the Forest Rights Act reveal the range and depth of opposition from an entrenched forest bureaucracy on the one hand and non-state actors on the other. The lack of implementation support to it also indicates a refusal of the political system to embrace the historic opportunity created for democratic governance of forests in India.

Forest Rights in Baiga Chak, Madhya Pradesh

Translating the potential of the Forest Rights Act into reality is a challenge even in regions “meant for” Adivasis, such as the Baiga Chak in eastern Madhya Pradesh, given the weak capacity for collective action, tangled relationship with the forest department, changing youth aspirations, and people’s conception of the environment at variance with some provisions of the act.

Biodiversity Conservation and Forest Rights Act

Several wildlife groups have opposed the Forest Rights Act as being anti-conservation. However, field experience indicates that the act can and is being used by local communities for arresting biodiversity decline by opposing the diversion of forests to mega-development projects and by using situated knowledge and values to bring about conservation.

Forest Governance

The Forest Rights Act provides a much-needed counterweight to state-centric forestry, as it reinstates the rights of forest dwellers in all dimensions of forest governance. However, the multi-stakeholder ecosystem of forests requires a multilayered governance framework in which the regulatory, funding and operational roles are separated and democratised. This will help resolve the prevailing tension and confusion regarding forest governance in the post-FRA era.
Back to Top