NATIONAL FOREST POLICY
MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS
Ministry of Environment and Forests
(Department of Environment, Forests & Wildlife)
Paryavaran Bhavan, CGO Complex,
National Forest Policy, 1988
1.1. In Resolution No.13/52/F, dated the 12th May, 1952, the Government of India in the erstwhile Ministry of Food and Agriculture enunciated a Forest Policy to be followed in the management of State Forests in the country. However, over the years,* forests in the country have suffered serious depletion. This is attributable to relentless pressures arising from ever‑increasing demand for fuel-wood, fodder and timber; inadequacy of protection measures; diversion of forest lands to non‑forest uses without ensuring compensatory afforestation and essential environmental safeguards; and the tendency to look upon forests as revenue earning resource. The need to review the situation and to evolve, for the future, a new strategy of forest conservation has become imperative. Conservation includes preservation, maintenance, sustainable utilisation, restoration, and enhancement of the natural environment. It has thus become necessary to review and revise the National Forest Policy.
2. BASIC OBJECTIVES
2.1 The basic objectives that should govern the National Forest Policy ‑ are the following:
2.2 The principal aim of Forest Policy must be to ensure environmental stability and maintenance of ecological balance including atmospheric equilibrium which are vital for sustenance of all lifeforms, human, animal and plant. The derivation of direct economic benefit must be subordinated to this principal aim.
3. ESSENTIALS OF
3.1 Existing forests and forest lands
should be fully protected and ‑their productivity improved.
3.2 Diversion of good and productive agricultural lands to forestry should be discouraged in view of the need for increased food production.
3.3 For the conservation of total biological diversity, the network of national parks, sanctuaries, biosphere reserves and other protected areas should be strengthened and extended adequately.
3.4 Provision of sufficient fodder, fuel and pasture, specially in areas adjoining forest, is necessary in order to prevent depletion of forests beyond the sustainable limit. Since fuelwood continues to be the predominant source of energy in rural areas, the programme of afforestation should be intensified with special emphasis on augmenting fuelwood production to meet the requirement of the rural people.
3.5 Minor forest produce provides sustenance to tribal population and to other communities residing in and around the forests. Such produce should be protected, improved and their production enhanced with due regard to generation of employment and income.
4.1 Area under Forests
The national goal should be to have a minimum of one‑third of the total land area of the country under forest or tree cover. In the hills and in mountainous regions, the aim should be to maintain two‑third of the area under such cover in order to prevent erosion and land degradation and to ensure the stability of the fragile eco‑system.
4.2 Afforestation, Social Forestry & Farm Forestry
4.2.1 A massive need‑based and time bound programme of afforestation and tree planting, with particular emphasis on fuelwood and fodder development, on all degraded and denuded lands in the country, whether forest or non‑forest land, is a national imperative.
4.2.2 It is necessary to encourage the planting of trees alongside of roads, railway lines, rivers and streams and canals, an d on other unutilised lands under State/corporate, institutional_ or private ownership. Green belts should be raised in urban/industrial areas as well as in arid tracts. Such a programme will help to check erosion and desertification as well as improve the microclimate.
4.2.3 Village and community lands, including those on foreshores and environs of tanks, not required for other productive uses, should be taken up for the development of tree crops and fodder resources. Technical assistance and other inputs necessary for initiating such programmes should be provided by the Government. The revenues generated through such programmes should belong to the panchayats where the lands are vested in them; in all other cases, such revenues should be shared with the local communities in order to provide an incentive to them. The vesting, in individuals, particularly from the weaker sections (such as landless labour, small and marginal farmers, scheduled castes, tribals, women) of certain ownership rights over trees, could be considered, subject to appropriate regulations; beneficiaries would be entitled to usufruct and would in turn be responsible for their security and maintenance.
4.3 Management of State Forests
4.3.1 Schemes and projects which interfere with forests that clothe steep slopes, catchments of rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, geologically unstable terrain and such other ecologically sensitive areas should be severely restricted. Tropical rain/moist forests, particularly in areas like Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, should be totally safeguarded.
4.3.2 No forest should be permitted to be worked without ‑ the Government having approved the management plan, which should be in a prescribed format and in keeping with the National Forest Policy. The Central Government should issue necessary guidelines to the State Governments in this regard and monitor compliance.
4.3.3 In order to meet the growing needs for essential goods and services which the forests provide, it is necessary to enhance forest cover and productivity of the forests through the application of scientific and technical inputs. Production forestry programmes, while aiming at enhancing the forest cover in the country, and meeting national needs, should also be oriented to narrowing, by the turn of the century, the increasing gap between demand and supply of fuelwood. No such programme, however, should entail clear‑felling of adequately stocked natural forests. Nor should exotic species be introduced, through public or private sources, unless long‑term scientific trials undertaken by specialists in ecology, forestry and agriculture have established that they are suitable and have no adverse impact on native vegetation and environment.
4.3.4 Rights and Concessions
220.127.116.11 The rights and concessions, including grazing, should always remain related to the carrying capacity of forests. The capacity itself should be optimised by increased investment, silvicultural research and development of the area. Stall‑feeding of cattle should be encouraged'. The requirements of the community, which cannot be met by the rights and concessions so determined, should be met by development of social forestry outside the reserved forests.
18.104.22.168 The holders of customary rights and concessions in forest areas should be motivated to identify themselves with the protection and development of forests from which they derive benefits. The rights and concessions from forests should primarily be for the bonafide use of the communities living within and around forest areas, specially the tribals.
22.214.171.124 The life of tribals and other poor living within and near forests revolves around forests. The rights and concessions enjoyed by them should be fully protected. Their domestic requirements of fuelwood, fodder, minor forest produce and construction timber should be the first charge on forest produce. These and substitute materials should be made available through conveniently located depots at reasonable prices.
126.96.36.199 Similar consideration should be given to scheduled castes and other poor living near forests. However, the area, which such consideration should cover, would be determined by the carrying capacity of the forests.
4.3.5 Wood is in short supply. The long‑term solution for meeting the existing gap lies in increasing the productivity of forests, but to relieve the existing pressure on forests for the demands of railway sleepers, construction industry (particularly in the public‑ sector), furniture and panelling, mine‑pit props, paper and paper board etc. substitution of wood needs to be taken recourse to. Similarly, on the front of domestic energy, fuelwood needs to be substituted as far as practicable with alternate sources like bio‑gas, LPG and solar energy. Fuel‑efficient "Chulhas" as a measure of conservation of fuelwood need to be popularised in rural areas.
4.4 Diversion of Forest Lands for Non‑forest purposes
4.4.2 Beneficiaries who are allowed mining and quarrying in forest land and in land covered by trees should' be required to repair and re‑vegetate the area in accordance with established forestry practices. No mining lease should be granted to any party, private or public, without a proper mine management plan appraised from the environmental angle and enforced by adequate machinery.
4.5 Wildlife Conservation
Forest Management should take special care of the needs of wildlife conservation, and forest management plans should include prescriptions for this purpose. It is specially essential to provide for "corridors" linking the protected areas in order to maintain genetic continuity between artificially separated sub‑sections of migrant wildlife.
4.6 Tribal People and Forests
Having regard to the symbiotic relationship between the tribal people and forests, a primary task of all agencies responsible for forest management, including the forest development corporations should be to associate the tribal people closely in the protection, regeneration and development of forests as well as to provide gainful employment to people living in and around the forest. While safeguarding the customary rights and interests of such people, forestry programmes should pay special attention to the following:
Undertaking integrated are a development programmes to meet the needs of the tribal, economy in and around the forest areas, including the provision of alternative sources of domestic energy on a subsidised basis, to reduce pressure on the existing forest areas.
4.7 Shifting Cultivation
Shifting cultivation is affecting the environment .and productivity of land adversely. Alternative avenues of income, suitably harmonised with the right landuse practices, should be devised to discourage shifting cultivation. Efforts should be made to contain such cultivation within the area already affected, by propagating improved agricultural practices. Area already damaged by such cultivation should be rehabilitated through social forestry and energy plantations.
4.8 Damage to Forests from Encroachments, Fires and Grazing
4.8.1 Encroachment on forest lands has been on the increase. This trend has to be arrested and effective action taken to prevent its continuance. There, should be no regularisation of existing encroachments.
4.8.2 The incidence of forest fires in the country is high. Standing trees and fodder are destroyed on a large scale and natural regeneration annihilated by such fires. Special precautions should be taken during the fire season. Improved and modern management practices should be adopted to deal with forest fires.
4.8.3 Grazing in forest areas should be regulated with the involvement of the community Special conservation areas, young plantations and regeneration areas should be fully protected. Grazing and browsing in forest areas need to be controlled. Adequate grazing fees should be levied to discourage people in forest areas from maintaining large herds of non‑essential livestock.
4.9 Forest‑based Industries
The main considerations governing the establishment of forest‑based industries and supply of raw material to them should be as follows:
4.11 Forestry Education
Forestry should be recogr1ised both as a scientific discipline as well as a profession. Agriculture universities and institutions, dedicated to the development of forestry education should formulate curricula and courses for imparting academic education and promoting postgraduate research and professional excellence, keeping in view the manpower needs of the country. Academic and professional qualifications ‑ in forestry should be kept in view for recruitment to the Indian Forest Service and the State Forest Service. Specialised and orientation courses far developing better management skills by inservice training need to be encouraged, taking into account the latest development in forestry and related disciplines.
4.12 Forestry Research
With the increasing recognition of the importance of forests for environmental health, energy and employment, emphasis must be laid on scientific forestry research, necessitating adequate strengthening of the research base as well as new priorities for action. Some broad priority areas of research and development needing special attention are:
4.13 Personnel Management
Government policies in personnel management for professional foresters and forest scientists should aim at enhancing their professional competence and status and attracting and retaining qualified ‑ and motivated personnel, keeping in view particularly ‑the Arduous nature of duties they have to perform, often in remote and inhospitable places.
Inadequacy of data regarding forest resources is a matter of concern because this creates a false sense of complacency. Priority needs to. be accorded to completing the survey of forest resources in the country on scientific lines and to updating information. For this purpose, periodical collection, collation and publication of reliable data on relevant aspects of forest management needs to be improved with recourse to modern technology and equipment.
4.15 Legal Support and Infrastructure Development
Appropriate legislation should be undertaken, supported by adequate infrastructure, at the Centre and State levels in order to implement the Policy effectively.
4.16 Financial Support for Forestry
The objectives of this revised Policy cannot be achieved without the investment of financial and other r6sources on a substantial scale. Such investment is indeed fully justified considering the contribution of forests in maintaining essential ecological processes and life support systems and in preserving genetic diversity. Forests should not be looked upon as a source of revenue. Forests are a renewable natural resource. They are a national asset to be protected and enhanced for the well-being of the people and the Nation.
Secretary to the Government of