Polity and Governance

National Forest Policy

National Forest Policy
Background India’s forest policy dates back to colonial times. It can be traced back to the year 1894 when the British colonial government adopted the first Forest Policy. The policy was revised in 1952 and 1988. After 30 years, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had framed a new draft National Forest Policy in 2018. The main proposal of the policy is climate change mitigation through sustainable and sincere forest management. The policy also aims to bring at least one-third of India’s total geographical area under the forest cover. This will be achieved by using new scientific and through the formulation and enforcement of stringent rules to protect dense cover. The new policy will replace the existing one formulated in 1988. As opposed to the previous policies of maintaining forest cover, which stressed on environmental stability and maintenance of ecological balance, the 2018 policy focuses on the challenge of climate change, human-animal conflict, and the rapidly reducing green cover. What are the proposals of the new policy? The policy addresses the issue of human-animal conflict and proposes short term as well as long term measures to tackle this challenge effectively. The draft mentions that efficient response teams, veterinary personnel, and rescue centres would characterize the short-term plans. In the long term, management and monitoring of wildlife within and outside forests will be adopted. The draft proposes public-private participation models for the purpose of promoting and developing afforestation and reforestation activities in damaged forest areas as well as those forest areas available with Forest Development Corporations and outside forests as well. What are the criticisms against the policy? The Policy has been criticized by environmentalists for a number of reasons. Bringing in private concerns for the purposes of afforestation and reforestation would mean privatization of India’s natural resources by forming “private forests” which would not belong to the larger public. The policy is not clear on how to go about and achieve the plans mentioned in it. It talks more about the conservation and preservation of forest cover rather than reforestation with people’s participation. It misses the issue of diversion of forest land for purposes such as mining. The draft policy upholds the significance of maintaining forest cover in Northeast India but does not address forest diversion issues in the region. The policy has also come under a lot of criticism for not including provisions regarding the forest-dwelling tribal communities across the country, who have been demanding to get their forest rights recognized. The policy mentions nothing with regard to them.
Source: https://www.thenagarepublic.com/fact-check/inviting-comments-from-all-concerned-stakeholders-on-draft-national-forest-policy-2018/

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