Also Read: Evolution of Forest Rights in India from 1856 to 2006 | In Depth Analysis of FRA & Its Issues

The environment ministry came out with a draft National Forest Policy (NFP). The policy has been prepared by the Bhopal-based Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM) and is aimed at facilitating ecologically responsible behaviour among stakeholders.

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The proposed NFP is going to be third such document after India’s independence with first in 1952 followed by the second in 1988.


Why is there a need for Forest Policy?

  • Forests and trees constitute nearly one fourth of the geographic area of the country.
  • Protection of this vast and valuable resource, improving and increasing the forest and tree cover requires adequate investment keeping in view the pressures on these forests, and the ecosystem services that they provide to the nation.
  • Large tracts of forest area in the country have degraded due to immense biotic pressure and lack of adequate investment.
  • The crux of the problem in India’s existing forest policy — the Forest Policy of 1988 — has been that it made the forest department the manager of the forests and the people lost their rights over it.
  • But as the Uttarakhand forest fires showed recently, a few hundred forest officials and a few thousand employees of the department can do nothing when a calamity strikes. They need community support in such emergencies.

Key highlights

  • Less forest on hilly areas: Although the policy continues with the national goal of maintaining a minimum of one-third of the geographical area under forest or tree cover, Hills and mountainous regions may not be required to maintain two-thirds of the geographical area under forest cover.
  • Board to monitor management of forests: The policy states that a National Board of Forestry and State Boards of Forestry are to be established to ensure monitoring of the spread of the forest areas and management of forest cover.
  • Technology to minimize damage to forests: The policy states that forest land diversion projects related to mining, quarrying, construction of dams, roads and other linear infrastructure need to adopt special caution. Use of state-of-the-art technology which causes minimum pollution and damage should be promoted.
  • Green tax on citizens: The draft National Forest Policy (NFP) proposes the levy of a green tax for facilitating ecologically responsible behaviour and supplementing financial resources essential to address forestry woes.
  • Undermines FRA 2006: NFP ignores Forests Rights Act, 2006, which empowers local gram panchayats, especially in tribal areas close to India’s forests, and proposes a joint forest management-like mechanism to enhance agro-forestry.
  • New Mission: The policy proposes to launch a new Community Forest Management Mission, bringing government, community and private land under the new proposed management system.
  • Provisions for responsible tourism: It calls for developing “sound ecotourism models” with the focus on conservation while supplementing the livelihood needs of local communities.
  • Climate change to emerge as important factor in policy: It states that Climate change concerns should be effectively factored into all the forest and wildlife areas management plans and community ecosystem management plans.
  • Purchase of wildlife corridors: The draft policy indicates that CAMPA funds from diversion of forest land by industry are to be used for purchasing wildlife corridors from people.
  • Maintaining Urban forest: The policy also asks for management plans for city forests, parks, garden and woodlands to nurture and sustain urban health, clean air and related benefits.
  • Supports the Government Vermin Policy: In a nod to the Union government’s controversial decision to declare certain animals as “vermin” and implicitly sanctioning the slaughter of nilgai, wild pigs and monkeys in certain States, the forest policy recommends mitigating human-wildlife conflicts by taking up habitat enrichment, providing adequate and timely compensation in case of injury or loss of human life, property, crop damage or livestock casualties and developing teams of well-equipped and trained forest personnel.

Significance of the policy

  • The policy recommendation for the launch of a national forest streams revival programme in a mission mode to tackle intensifying water crisis in India in the last few decades is a good step.
  • The levy of a green tax for facilitating ecologically responsible behaviour, supplementing financial resources essential to address forestry woes will act as a step to mitigate the effects of pollution.
  • Besides specifying how to manage forests, the draft policy said, “Other ecosystems such as alpine meadows, grasslands, deserts, marine and coastal areas should be protected and managed as well” and this will help to make it comprehensive.
  • It calls for developing sound ecotourism models with the focus on conservation while supplementing the livelihood needs of local communities which is a commendable move.

Criticism of the policy

  • NFP ignores Forests Rights Act, 2006, which empowers local gram panchayats, especially in tribal areas close to India’s forests, and proposes a joint forest management-like mechanism to enhance agro-forestry. This move will bring back the forest department as the final authority over using forest resources instead of forest dwellers and communities dependent on them.

Way forward

  • After facing much criticism from the Civil society the centre has withdrawn the draft policy recently. The criticism is not misplaced as the draft policy proposes to dilute the Forests Rights Act (FRA), do away with requirement of having two-third geographical area of mountainous and hill regions under forests, and for allowing industry to have commercial plantations on the forest land , increase the power of the forest bureaucracy and keep local communities out of the decision-making process.
  • While devising a new policy, the ministry must not only focus on increasing the forest area and bettering the quality of the forests but also ensure that the connection between forest-dependent communities and forests is not lost.

References:

Any doubts?


  1. Er S

    expected questions??

    1. Root

      Look at the ‘Selected Questions’ tab

  2. Jha Kailash

    Sir please explain national forest policy in Hindi.

  3. Karthik Harry

    kyoto protocal

Eye on China, foreign secy S Jaishankar in Seychelles for infrastructure pact

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Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From the UPSC perspective following things are important:

Prelims Level: Geographical location of Seychelles

Mains Level: Growing presence of China in the Indian Ocean is a serious strategic concern for India. This step is deals with the same concern.


News

Unannounced visit to Seychelles

  1. Recently, India had sent Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on an unannounced visit to the seychelles
  2. Possible reasons behind this move: Due to concerns arise from China’s moves and increasing presence in Seychelles
  3. And to iron out differences over the development of infrastructure in seychelles

Seychelles’ changed view on the agreement(related to infrastructure)

  1. Seychelles has said it would like to take a “relook” at the agreement between the two countries to build military infrastructure on Assumption Island
  2. The agreement was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Seychelles in 2015
  3. Officials in Seychelles have said the agreement does not have legal backing on their side, whereas it has legal basis in India
  4. To avoid returning to the negotiating table, Jaishankar met Seychelles President Danny Faure and discussed the hurdles that have come up in recent months

Particulars of the agreement

  1. The agreement will enable India to help Seychelles build military infrastructure for the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces (SPDF) on Assumption Island
  2. The infrastructure also includes residential barracks for SPDF’s Coast Guard and fixing up the jetty and existing airstrip for the SPDF

Concerns of India over China’s presence in Seychelles

  1. According to Indian intelligence reports, there has been a sharp spike in the number of Chinese visitors in Seychelles over the last six years — from about 500 in 2011 to over 15,000 in 2016

India’s relations with Seychelles

  1. The two countries have an established relationship in defence and maritime security, through which India helps to patrol the waters of Seychelles and gives equipment to the island nation’s defence forces
  2. In recent years, India has agreed to help Seychelles map its hydrology reserves, launched a coastal surveillance radar project and boosted security cooperation with the nation
  3. India will also give a second Dornier maritime patrol aircraft

Environment Ministry withdraws draft forest policy

  1. News: The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has withdrawn the Draft National Forest Policy
  2. It said that the draft that had been uploaded on its website earlier, was an ‘inadvertent’ error
  3. It was just a study done by Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal and not a draft
  4. Context: The ministry is in the process of revising the present National Forest Policy, 1988

Draft forest policy moots green cess

  1. Green cess: To promote ecologically responsible behaviour and called on the government to promote the sustainable use of wood
  2. Wood: Has a significantly lower carbon footprint than many of the substitutes that consume fossil fuels in their production
  3. Use of wood also has the potential to create new green jobs by giving a boost to indigenous manufacturing using locally grown raw material
  4. Thus promotion of wood use, obtained from sustainably-managed forests and trees, would play a positive role in mitigating climate change and ensuring sustainable living
  5. Governments and stakeholders must shift from regulating to promoting cultivation, harvesting, transportation and marketing of wood

Draft National Forest Policy- new institutional arrangements

  1. MIS: National forest ecosystems management information system should be developed and made operational using the latest information and communication technology
  2. Aim: To ensure regular flow of comprehensive and reliable information
    This web-based system should be available for public use
  3. National Board of Forestry and State Boards of Forestry to be established
  4. Inter-ministerial action plan to be formulated with action points, targets, milestone activities, and timelines
  5. Inter-ministerial committee should be set up to periodically monitor the achievements and progress

Draft National Forest Policy- community

  1. CFMM: A new Community Forest Management Mission, bringing government, community and private land under the new proposed management system
  2. Special communities: At the gram sabha (village council) level be created to take over management of forests
  3. The plans prepared by the gram sabhas for their forestlands would have to be vetted by the forest department based on rules
  4. Pre-production agreements: Between industries and farmers to fix price and quantity
  5. Aim: Producing supply for the wood industry through farm forestry
  6. Management plans: For community forests, parks, garden and woodlands
  7. Aim: To manage urban forest cover and to nurture and sustain urban health, clean air and related benefits
  8. No mention of the Forest Rights Act but promises to set up a parallel arrangement to the Forest Rights Act

Draft National Forest Policy

  1. Drafted by: the Indian Institute of Forest Management, the research arm of the environment ministry
  2. Targets: Continued with the national goal of a minimum of one-third of the geographical area under forest or tree cover
  3. Done away with the goal for hill and mountainous regions to maintain two-thirds of the geographical area under forest cover
  4. Climate change concerns should be effectively factored into all the forest and wildlife areas management plans and community ecosystem management plans
  5. Funds from diversion of forest land by industry to be used for purchasing wildlife corridors from people
  6. Old laws to be amended to bring it tune with the policy

Questions (attempt in the comments section)

1

The crux of the problem in India’s existing forest policy — the Forest Policy of 1988 — has been that it made the forest department the manager of the forests and the people lost their rights over it. How will draft national forest policy change this situation. Critically comment.

2

What are the Salient features of Draft national forest policy? Why is it criticized by the environmentalists?







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