Exam View: Forests in India, Constitutional Provisions Regarding Forest in India, Importance of Forests in India, Issues Associated with Forests in India, National Forest Policy of India, Forest Conservation Act 1980, National Afforestation Programme, Environment Protection Act of 1986, Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act.
In News: Corporates can work with communities closely towards sustainable forest protection.
- Forests are the most common sources of carbon offsets and have the greatest potential for carbon sequestration through forest restoration.
- Forests in India cover about 24.62.62% of the country’s land area (including tree cover). They offer a number of crucial ecosystem services, including preventing soil erosion, regulating the water cycle, and acting as a home for a diverse range of plant and animal species.
- However, a number of activities, including illicit logging, mining, and land conversion for agriculture and urban expansion, also pose a threat to India’s forests.
- The forests in India can be classified into five major groups. They are Tropical evergreen forests, Tropical deciduous forests, Thorny bushes, Mountain vegetation and Mangrove forests.
Constitutional Provisions Regarding Forest in India
- Article 51 A (g) of the Constitution: It states that it shall be the fundamental duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including forests and Wildlife.
- Article 48 A in the Directive Principles of State Policy: It mandates that the State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.
- Seventh Schedule: Forests are included in the Concurrent List in the (Seventh Schedule) of the Constitution of India. Through the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 forests and the protection of Wild Animals and Birds were transferred from State to Concurrent List.
Importance of Forests in India
Issues Associated with Forests in India
- Inadequate Forest Cover: According to the National Forest Policy of India, the ideal percentage of the total geographical area under forest should be at least 33% to maintain ecological stability. But currently, it covers only 24.62.62% of the country’s geographical area (including tree cover).
- Deforestation and Land Degradation: Several activities, such as illicit logging, mining, and the conversion of land for agriculture and urban growth, pose a threat to India’s forests. This has led to deforestation and land degradation.
- Loss of natural habitat: Deforestation and other activities that damage forests also lead to a loss of biodiversity, as plant and animal species are unable to survive in their natural habitat.
- Menace of Climate Change: Forest disturbances caused by climate change, including insect outbreaks, invasive species due to climate-led migration, wildfires, and storms, reduce forest productivity, and change species distribution. By 2030, 45-64% of forests in India will experience the effects of climate change and rising temperatures.
- Low Productivity: The gap between the consumption and production of timber and wood-based products in India is rapidly increasing. Against the global average productivity of 2.1 m3/hectare/ year, the productivity of the Indian Forest is only 0.7 m3/hectare/ year.
- Shrinking Forest Cover: According to the National Forest Policy of India, the ideal percentage of the total geographical area under forest should be at least 33% to maintain ecological stability.
- However, it currently covers just 24.62.62 % of the country’s land and is shrinking rapidly.
- Conflict between local communities’ interests and commercial interests: This can lead to social tensions and even violence, as different groups struggle to access and use the resources of the forests.
Government Initiatives for Forest Conservation
- Engagement of the local community: Developing a network of community-managed forests, where local communities are given the responsibility for protecting and managing their local forests. This can help to empower local people and give them a stake in the conservation of their forests.
- By engaging directly with communities, the informal forest economy can be transformed into business transactions that are fair and transparent and incentivise sustainable protection, management, and restoration of India’s forests.
- Recognising the value of forest-based products: If communities protect forests because they get better prices for Sal seeds, Mahua flowers, or Tendu leaves, they will protect them from fires as well as any other threats that come along. Carbon sequestration will be a side benefit.
- Dedicated Forest Corridor: Dedicated Forest corridors can be maintained for safe intrastate and interstate passage of wild animals and protecting their habitat from any external influence, giving a message of peaceful-co existence.
- Resource Mapping and Forest Optimisation: Potential resource mapping can be done in unexplored forest areas, and they can be brought under scientific management and sustainable resource extraction maintaining density and forest health.
- Selective Logging and Reforestation: Promoting sustainable forestry practices, such as selective logging and reforestation, to ensure that forests are managed in a way that preserves their ecological value.
- Comprehensive Management of Forest: Forest conservation should include all components of protection and sustainable management of forests such as, forest fire control measures, timely survey, tribal-dedicated policies, reducing man-animal conflicts and sustainable wildlife health measures.
The Indian government has implemented a number of measures to protect and conserve forests, including the creation of protected areas and the promotion of sustainable forest management practices.
However, more needs to be done to ensure the long-term survival of these important ecosystems.