A joint communication was signed by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change which is aimed at giving more power to the tribal communities in managing the forest resources.
- Forests are not only home to trees and animals. They are also a vital source of resources. They give clean air, timber, fuel, wood, fruits, food, fodder, and more. These are known as forest resources upon which many depend for livelihood and survival.
- Forests provide resources, which makes its conservation and protection further important. It is also because of these resources that forests are exploited.
- Indian Forest Act, 1927, Forest Conservation Act, 1980, National Forest Policy, 1988, National Mission for Green India, National Afforestation Program, Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
- It pertains to more effective implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 and for harnessing the potential for livelihood improvement of the Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes (FDSTs) and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs).
- State forest departments will carry out verification of claims for forest rights, mapping of forest lands involved and provision of necessary evidence as required, authentication of records, joint field inspections, awareness generation etc.
- The lack of recognition of forest rights has left tribal and forest dwelling communities across the country insecure of tenure and fear of eviction from their lands.
- State forest departments are to undertake projects for value chain addition including capacity building of primary collectors, new harvesting methods, storage, processing and marketing of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP).
- A nodal agency to be designated for specific non-timber forest products as supply chain platforms in collaboration with TRIFE, Ministry of Ayush, MFP (Minor Forest Produce) Federations, Van Dhan Kendras etc.
Forest Dwellers and MFP:
- Tribals and other forest dwellers can contribute significantly in efforts towards climate change through preservation of biodiversity, environmental conservation and enhancing forest cover.
- Forest dwellers are dependent on forests, not only for their livelihood but their traditions are also intertwined with forests.
- MFP includes all non-timber forest produce of plant origin and includes bamboo, canes, fodder, leaves, gums, waxes, dyes, resins and many forms of food including nuts, wild fruits, honey, lac, tusser etc.
- It provides both subsistence and cash income for people who live in or near forests.
- They also form a major portion of their food, fruits, medicines and other consumption items and also provide cash income through sales.
- NTFP are also known as MFP or Non-Wood Forest Produce (NWFP).
- The NTFP can be further categorized into Medicinal And Aromatic Plants (MAP), oil seeds, fiber and floss, resins, edible plants, bamboo, reeds and grasses.
Forest Rights Act, 2006
- The Act recognizes the forest rights in Forest land for Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes (FDST) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFD) who have been residing in such forests for generations.
- Forest rights can also be claimed by any member or community who has for at least three generations (75 years) prior to the 13th day of December, 2005 primarily resided in forest land for bona fide livelihood needs.
- It strengthens the conservation regime of the forests while ensuring livelihood and food security of the FDST and OTFD.
- The Gram Sabha is the authority to initiate the process for determining the nature and extent of Individual Forest Rights (IFR) or Community Forest Rights (CFR) or both that may be given to FDST and OTFD.
The Act identifies four types of rights:
- Title rights: It gives FDST and OTFD the right to ownership to land farmed by tribals or forest dwellers subject to a maximum of 4 hectares. Ownership is only for land that is actually being cultivated by the concerned family and no new lands will be granted.
- Use rights: The rights of the dwellers extend to extracting Minor Forest Produce, grazing areas etc.
- Relief and development rights: To rehabilitate in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection.
- Forest management rights: It includes the right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use.
SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT