Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc.

Thanthai Periyar Sanctuary Notification: Implications for Forest Communities


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Forest Rights Act, 2006 and its key provisions; Forest Villages

Mains level: Read the attached story


  • Triggering Concerns: Recently, the notification about the Thanthai Periyar Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu’s Erode district worried nearby forest communities.
  • Potential Rights Denial: Residents fear losing their rights under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 (FRA) due to the sanctuary’s establishment.

About Forest Rights Act, 2006

Purpose Recognizes and vests forest rights and occupation in Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes (FDST) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFD).
Recognition Criteria
  • Forest rights can be claimed by FDST and OTFD who have been residing in forest land for generations.
  • Members or communities must have resided in forest land for at least three generations (75 years) prior to December 13, 2005.
Types of Forest Rights Recognized
  • Title rights: Ownership rights to land farmed by them, subject to a maximum of 4 hectares.
  • Use rights: Rights to extract Minor Forest Produce, grazing areas, etc.
  • Relief and development rights: Provides for rehabilitation in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement and access to basic amenities.
  • Forest management rights: Includes the right to protect, regenerate, conserve, or manage any community forest resource traditionally protected and conserved for sustainable use.
  • Gram Sabha
  • It is responsible for initiating the process for determining Individual Forest Rights (IFR) or Community Forest Rights (CFR).
  • Aims to strengthen the conservation regime of forests while ensuring livelihood and food security of FDST and OTFD.
Historical Injustices Addressed
  • Recognition of historical injustices faced by forest-dwelling communities
  • Empowerment of forest-dwellers for sustainable resource use and livelihood security
  • Predominant focus on individual rights, neglecting community rights
  • Poor recognition of Individual Forest Rights (IFRs) and Community Forest Rights (CFRs)


What are Forest Villages?

  • Definition: Forest villages are settlements located within forest areas, inhabited predominantly by tribal and indigenous communities.
  • Historical Context: These villages have often existed for generations, with residents relying on forest resources for their livelihoods.
  • Conversion Mandate: In 1990, the government ordered all forest villages to become revenue villages, aiming to formalize their status and grant them legal recognition.
  • Incomplete Conversion: Despite these orders, the conversion process remains unfinished in many areas, leaving forest dwellers without essential rights and facilities.

Rights Admitted in the Sanctuary

  • Continuation of Rights: The notification recognizes rights granted under previous laws and the FRA, ensuring some rights for individuals.
  • Implementation Challenges: Tamil Nadu has struggled to enforce the FRA effectively, casting doubt on its implementation within the sanctuary.

Impact on Forest Communities

  • Grazing Restrictions: The ban on cattle grazing within the sanctuary could affect the traditional grazing practices of forest-dwelling communities.
  • Legal Discrepancies: Prohibiting grazing conflicts with the FRA’s recognition of grazing rights, highlighting inconsistencies in policy.

Legal Framework and Challenges

  • WLPA Provisions: Sanctuaries and national parks are governed by the Wildlife (Protection) Act (WLPA) 1972, which mandates protecting rights within them.
  • FRA Supremacy: The FRA overrides conflicting provisions of the WLPA, emphasizing the need to balance conservation with community rights.
  • Implementation Gaps: Despite legal frameworks, inadequate enforcement of the FRA persists, undermining the rights of forest communities.

Tamil Nadu’s FRA Implementation

  • Low Recognition Rate: Tamil Nadu has a poor record in recognizing forest rights, with only a fraction of entitled areas acknowledged under the FRA.
  • National Context: Similar challenges exist nationwide, indicating systemic failures in upholding forest rights and conservation mandates.


  • Urgent Action Needed: Addressing the concerns of forest-dwelling communities and ensuring compliance with legal provisions are crucial for sustainable forest management.
  • Harmonizing Conservation and Rights: Balancing conservation goals with the rights of forest communities is essential for fair and effective forest governance.
  • Call for Accountability: Authorities must prioritize implementing laws and policies that protect both forests and the rights of those dependent on them, promoting environmental justice and social equity.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2019:

Consider the following statements:

  1. As per the recent amendment to the Indian Forest Act, 1927, forest dwellers have the right to fell the bamboos grown on forest areas
  2. As per the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, bamboo is a minor forest produce
  3. The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition Forest Rights) Act, 2006 allows ownership of minor forest produce to forest dwellers

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Post your answers here.
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