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Recent Changes in India's Forest Policy

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Madsen, Stig Toft
Conference: Reinventing the Commons, the Fifth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bodoe, Norway
Conf. Date: May 24-28, 1995
Date: 1995
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/2099
Sector: Forestry
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
Abstract: "It is possible to discern three recurring elements in the debate on forests rights in India: 1) Forest Department's sin of commission; 2) Forest Department's sin of omission; and 3) The myth of people's prudence. "The first element postulates that the Forest Department (FD) alienated the people from the forests. The second holds that the FD has failed in its duty to protect the forests and that deforestation has caused a general environmental crisis. Finally, what Roger Jeffery has called the 'standard environmental narrative' embraces a myth of people's prudence positing that if the state would hand back the forests (CPR) to the people (forest dwellers or tribals), the forests would be restored and the environmental crisis would wane. "In this paper I sketch the process of reform which has actually taken place. Most forests are still state property and it is unlikely that this is going to change, but the National Forest Policy has been influenced by the above narrative. In terms of investment and foreign collaboration, the stress has been on social forestry which operates on an economic logic. An attempt to reconcile the divergent trends of reform has resulted in the concept of Joint Forest Management which acknowledges people's right to influence, but tries to steer such demands into economically profitable and ecologically acceptable joint ventures between the FD and local organizations. "The paper concludes that top politicians, top civil servants, NGOs, the judiciary and the media have been the important players in the policy formulation process, and that larger interest organizations and political parties have been marginal."

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