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

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Forest Governance

From Co-option and Conflict to Multilayered 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.

The question of what should be the relative role of, and relationship between, the state and the community in forest governance has been long debated in India. The question first emerged with the colonial takeover of the country’s forests. It was then reignited in independent India by the Chipko movement (Guha 1989) and protests elsewhere (Krishna 1996), and popped up yet again in the mid-1990s when the Indian Forest Act (IFA) 1927 was proposed to be revamped (Guha 1994; Hiremath et al 1995). Each time, the state has attempted some redressal. Forest grievance committees set up by the British led to some localised concessions, as in Kumaon and Kanara. The Forest (Conservation) Act (FCA) passed in 1980 and tree-felling bans were supposedly responses to Chipko. A new National Forest Policy was adopted in 1988, which led to the joint forest management programme. That apart, the Supreme Court has also intervened in a major way. But, all these measures turned out to be either band-aids, incomplete or even misdirected (Lele and Menon 2014).

The Forest Question

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