Definition of ‘Forest area’
- July 27, 2021
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN Topics
Definition of ‘Forest area’
Context: Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change on Monday informed Rajya Sabha that the recorded forest area in the country is 7,67,419 sq km, as surveyed by the India State of Forest Report, 2019.
The recorded forest area in the country, 4,34,853sq km fall under the Reserved Forests category, 2,18,924 sq km under the Protected Forests category, and 1,13,642 sq km are of unclassed forests.
- The term ‘forest’ is yet to be defined by the Centre.
- “The word ‘forest’ is not defined in any Central Forest Act, namely the Indian Forest Act (1927), or the Forest Conservation Act (1980).
- Rights such as that of grazing of animals are often not recorded, and the local community does not need to be consulted if the land were to be reclassified as ‘forest’ and diverted by the forest department. This often leads to disputes between local communities and governments
The Indian Forest Act, 1927
- The Indian Forest Act,1927 aimed to regulate the movement of forest produce, and duty leviable forest produce. It also explains the procedure to be followed for declaring an area as Reserved Forest, Protected Forest or a Village Forest.
- This act has details of what a forest offence is, what are the acts prohibited inside a Reserved Forest, and penalties leviable on violation of the provisions of the Act. After the Forest Act was enacted in 1865, it was amended twice (1878 and 1927).
- The Central government has not laid down any criterion to define forest
- The land that is demarcated as forests under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 by the Forest Department this kind of land may or may not actually have a forest standing on it.
- In case of a tussle between the Forest and the Revenue Departments over land, it is the state which is responsible for categorising forest land, and it is the states that resolve dispute between these two departments.
- The Indian Forest Act, 1927 gives states the rights to notify Reserved Forests in their areas.
Types of forest
- Reserved Forests: Reserve forests are the most restricted forests and are constituted by the State Government on any forest land or wasteland which is the property of the Government.
- In reserved forests, local people are prohibited, unless specifically allowed by a Forest Officer in the course of the settlement.
- Protected Forests: The State Government is empowered to constitute any land other than reserved forests as protected forests over which the Government has proprietary rights and the power to issue rules regarding the use of such forests. This power has been used to establish State control over trees, whose timber, fruit or other non-wood products have revenue-raising potential.
- Village forest: Village forests are the one in which the State Government may assign to ‘any village community the rights of Government to or over any land which has been constituted a reserved forest’.
- Degree of protection:
Reserved forests > Protected forests > Village forests
The Forest Conservation Act (1980)
- This Act has made the restrictions on the State government and other authorities to make decisions in some matters without the prior permission of the central government.
- Under this Act, the whole power is in the hand of the Central government to carry out the laws of this Act.
- This Act also provides penalties for the infringement of the provisions of this Act.
- Under this Act, an advisory committee may be formed for advising the Central government in matters related to forest conservation.