Indian Forest Act, 1927 – UPSC Prelims

Indian Forest Act, 1927:
  • This Act recognizes forest dwellers’ rights and makes conservation more accountable.
  • The Act basically does two things:
    1. Grants legal recognition to the rights of traditional forest dwelling communities, partially correcting the injustice caused by the forest laws, and
    2. Makes a beginning towards giving communities and the public a voice in forest and wildlife conservation.
  • The law recognises three types of rights:
    1. Land Rights: Land rights are given to people, who have been cultivating land prior to December, 13, 2005.
    2. Use Rights: The law provides for rights to use and/or collect the minor forest produce things like tendu patta, herbs, medicinal plants etc “that has been traditionally collected, use of grazing grounds and water bodies and use of traditional areas by nomadic or pastoralist communities i.e. communities that move with their herds, as opposed to practicing settled agriculture.
    3. Right to Protect and Conserve: The law gives rights to protect and manage the forests to people of village communities.
  • The Act also categorises forests into three categories:
    1. Reserve forest:
      1. These forests are the most restricted forests and may be constituted by the State Government on any forest land or waste land which is the property of the Government or on which the Government has proprietary rights.
      2. In reserved forests, most uses by local people are prohibited, unless specifically allowed by a Forest Officer in the course of settlement.
    2. Protected forest:
      1. The State Government is empowered to constitute any land other than reserved forests as protected forests over which the Government has proprietary rights.
      2. Under ‘Protected Forests’, the Government retains the power to issue rules regarding the use of such forests and retains the power to reserve the specific tree species in the protected forests.
      3. This power has been used to establish State control over trees, whose timber, fruit or other non-wood products have revenue-raising potential.
    3. Village forest:
      1. ‘Village forests’ are the one in which the State Government may assign to ‘any village community the rights of Government to or over any land which has been constituted a reserved forest’.

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