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Forest Policy and Law


India is one of the few countries which have a forest policy since 1894. It was revised in 1952 and again in 1988.

Non-Legally Binding International Instrument for sustainable development of all types of forests has been agreed to as Global Forest Policy by all member countries of the United Nations and adopted by General Assembly.

The main plank of the Forest Policy of 1988 is protection, conservation and development of forest.

Aims of the Forest Policy of 1988 are:

(i) maintenance of environmental stability through preservation and restoration of ecological balance; 

(ii) conservation of natural heritage; 

(iii) check on soil erosion and denudation in catchment area of rivers, lakes and reservoirs;

(iv) check on extension of sand dunes in desert areas of Rajasthan and along coastal tracts; 

(v) substantial increase in forest tree cover through massive afforestation and social forestry programmes; 

(vi) steps to meet requirements of fuelwood, fodder, minor forest produce and soil timber of rural and tribal populations; 

(vii) increase in productivity of forest to meet the national needs;

(viii) encouragement of efficient utilisation of forest produce and optimum substitution of wood and 

(ix) steps to create massive people’s movement with involvement of women to achieve the objectives and minimise pressure on existing forests.

The entire gamut of forest activities are being given a new orientation in the light of the National Forest Policy of 1988.

In order to operationalise the National Forest Policy 1988, a National Forestry Action Programme (NFAP) is being prepared. As a part of this exercise State Forestry Action Programmes are also being prepared for each State.

Under the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, prior approval of the Central government is required for diversion of forest lands for non-forest purposes.

Since the enactment of the Act, the rate of diversion of forest land has come down to around 25,000 hectares per annum from 1.43 lakh hectares per annum, before1980.

During 1998, 851 proposals from various State and UT governments were processed under this Act.

A scheme titled ‘Association of Scheduled Tribes and Rural Poor in Regeneration of Degraded Forests on Usufruct Sharing Basis’ is under implementation in nine States of the country. 

Besides improving the forest cover, the scheme also aims at providing wage employment and usufructs to the tribal people. Joint Forest Management (JFM) is being practiced in 21 States of the country. 

About 7 million hectares of degraded forests in the country are being managed and protected through approximately 35,000 village Forest Protection Committees


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