Author: Gayatri Singh (UPES, Dehradun)


Tribals account for around 10.4 million people in India or nearly 8.6% of the country’s overall population.[1] Forest is vital to the lives of tribal people. For practically everything, they rely on forests. Tribes regard forests as gods, and they worship them because they provide them with sustenance. Tribes have been neglected and mistreated for a very long time. The Forest Act, 2006[2] gave the entire tribal community optimism by granting them their rights. However, their battles and hardships did not end here. Because governments have been obliged to transform forests into enormous buildings due to the expanding economy and population. This will not only devastate tribal livelihoods but will also result in deforestation. Forest conservation is a pressing issue, and no one can do it better than tribal peoples. Furthermore, it is critical to ensure the long-term viability of forest resources. The government should not overlook these issues and should offer adequate acknowledgement to the tribal people by fixing The Forest Act, 2006[3] shortcomings. 


The Forest Rights Act, 2006[4] was passed in December of that year. The purpose of this Act was to correct the unfairness that the forest regulations had caused to the forest-inhabited communities. This statute offers forest-dwelling communities legal recognition and gives them ownership of land and resources.


The first and major reason for this law is necessary is that there are over hundreds and thousands of people living near the forest of India’s land, most of the land of forest being under the government creates havoc and this law recognizes the rights that the forest dwellers have. This makes conservation easier and more accountable.

“Forests” that are said to be under the government’s care are not all actual forests. Many places were proclaimed “government forests” under this legislation without taking into account how many people lived there or what land they were utilizing, and as a result, more than 3 lakh households were pushed to famine and despair in the most recent eviction drive in 2002. In Madhya Pradesh alone, 125 villages were burnt to the ground. “The Tiger Task Force of the Government of India put it as, in the name of conservation, what has been carried out in a completely illegal and unconstitutional land acquisition program. The situation got so severe that the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes then mentioned, in his 29th Report, that  The criminalization of the entire communities in the tribal areas” [5]

The act was formed in the year 1927 when India was under British rule and so the act was made not to protect the forests of India but to provide England with timber. It wasn’t just the case with this particular law but a lot of laws made at that time were for the exploitation of India and its resources.

SECTION 3, Forest ACT, 2006

The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006[6]

The tribals have had a close relationship with the woods for a long time since they rely on them for food, shelter, and other necessities. The adverse conditions of these forest dwellers were not recognized of their ancestral rights and that resulted in many people losing their homes. To re-recognize their rights and rectify these issues, the forest act was enacted in 2006.


      1. To enhance and empower local self-government.

     2. To address the people’s livelihood and security, which may lead to poverty.

      3.  To deal with the conservation and management of India’s natural resources.


The points below are the features of forest dwellers:

1. Ownership rights

2. Collecting access

3. Make use of and discard minor forest products

4. Rights of the community

5. Tribal and pre-agricultural populations have habitat rights.

6. The right to maintain, regenerate, manage, and safeguard any forest community.


Below are the rights of forest dwellers under the Forest Act:

1.   Property Rights: This legislation grants persons the ability to own land and get title documents if they have been cultivating the land before December 13, 2005. As long as the land was merely four acres, there was no need for evidence.

2.   Use rights:

a. Minor Forest provides tendu, Patta herbs, medicinal plants, and other such items.

b. Grazing lands and bodies of water

c. Traditional pastoralist and nomadic populations’ usage regions.

3. The right to maintain and conserve: this right safeguards, manages and protects forests, animals, and other natural resources.

4. No arbitrary dislocation: the forest dwellers cannot be displaced without fulfilling certain guidelines.[7]


1.   A lack of knowledge and understanding: forest dwellers have been exploited by government officials due to a lack of knowledge and awareness.

2.   FRA in conflict with other legislation: the act comes in conflict with other laws which creates ambiguity, and thus creates loopholes on the ground level. 


The Forest Rights Act, 2006[8] specifies Community Forest Resource under Section 2(a), as “Customary common forest land within the traditional or customary boundaries of the village or seasonal use of landscape in the case of pastoral communities, including reserve forests, protected forests, and protected areas, such as Sanctuaries and National Parks to which the community had traditional access.”

This refers to common forest land within the cultural or traditional outlines of a village, or the use of a specific time of year in the case of pastoralist communities, including protected forests and similar protected areas such as Sanctuaries and National Parks to which the community had traditional access. Section 3 (1) (i) of the Forest Rights Act, 2006[9] recognizes the right to maintain, regenerate, conserve, and manage any community forest resources that have historically been protected for long-term use by communities. Community forest resources encompass any community forest resources that are extensively used by the nation, and some forest communities rely heavily on them for survival.

A community forest resource area is a relatively traditional forest area that is preserved and maintained for long-term usage by a specific community to access resources located within the village’s traditional and cultural limits, as well as the occasional use of the time in pastoral communities. Each Community Forest Resources region has a cultural border that may be used to identify community landmarks and surrounding areas.[10]

A subdivided forest of any kind, such as an income stream, can be included in a community forest resource area.

Forests officially contribute 1.7 per cent of India’s GDP.[11] From sawn wood, panel products, and wood pulp to bamboo, rattan ware, and pine resin, India produces a wide range of processed forest products (wood and non-timber). More than 400 factories in the paper sector generate more than 3 million tonnes of paper per year (however, raw materials to produce that volume are mostly derived from non-wood fibre).

Indian law’s “forests” sometimes have little to do with the forests themselves. The property was frequently labelled “government forest” under the Indian Forest Act of 1927, with no record of who lived in the region, what land they utilized, what the forest used, and so on. 82 per cent of Madia forest blocks and 40 per cent of Orissa forest reserves have never been investigated; similarly, 60 per cent of India’s national parks have not finished their process of investigating and settling rights to date (sometimes after 25 years, as in Sariska). As India’s Tiger Task Force put it, “what has been done in the name of conservation is unlawful and entirely unconstitutional.” As a result of this circumstance, millions of individuals being harassed, evicted, and other forms of harassment are being used as justifications to break into their houses. Harassment, arrests of employees, money laundering, and sexual harassment are all regular occurrences. More than 3,00,000 households were forced into poverty and famine as a result of a recent countrywide deportation effort that began in 2002. In Madhya Pradesh alone, more than 125 villages have been burned to the ground.[12]

The situation is so bad that the previous Racial and Organizational Times Commissioner remarked in his 29th Report that “The criminalization of the entire communities in the tribal areas is the darkest blot on the liberal tradition of our country”

Under this Act, there are two kinds of eligibility. To begin, everyone must meet two requirements:

 1) They dwell mostly in forests or forested regions;

2) They rely on forests and forest land for their livelihood (which means “necessities of existence”).

Second, you should make sure:

1) You belong to the Other Forest Forest Dweller if the aforementioned requirements have been true for 75 years (section 2 (o));[13]


 That you are a Schedules Tribe member (section 2 (c)); and[14]

That you live in a Scheduled Tribe (section 4 (1)).[15]

This last one is the Forest Dwelling Tribe Tribe.


Many causes have contributed to the loss of forest resources and continue to do so. Forest loss is mostly due to the spread of agriculture. As a result of the aforementioned cause, numerous forests have been destroyed. Urbanization and large-scale development have both contributed to and continue to contribute to the aforementioned issue. Forests have been destroyed as a result of river valley developments and mining. Roughly 10.76 million trees were destroyed due to the expanding economy and industrial projects. Arunachal Pradesh has the highest deforestation rate, Over the last 30 years, it has cleared roughly 3338 square kilometres of forests.[16] As a result, the focus has changed from forests as a resource for tribal communities to forests used for economic purposes. 

The Tribal community’s difficulties are never-ending. Even after The Forest Rights Act, 2006[17] was implemented, they still face numerous obstacles. Without a question, The Forest Rights Act, 2006[18] became a powerful tool for protecting the rights of the entire community, but due to several gaps in the act, it did not work as intended. The Forest Rights Act, 2006[19] has been implemented slowly and continues to violate the rights of tribal communities. The most serious flaw is in the law’s execution. Numerous rights have yet to be recognized as a result of the act’s inadequate and delayed implementation. This may easily be seen as a lack of political will to properly implement the legislation, which is understandable given that providing tribals their rights will have ramifications for other businesses. According to the legislation, Gram Sabha is the first tier of decision-making, however, Gram Sabha in most states lacks efficient administration and framework. They have no idea where things should go, and in most states, the gram sabha isn’t even present. Between tribal communities and panchayats, there is a lack of coordination. It will not come as a surprise to learn that panchayats do not carry out their responsibilities following the statute, causing indirect harm to the tribal community.[20]


The need for resource conservation and sustainable use has become urgent. Forest preservation is critical. Using a large number of chemicals or manufacturing a chemical spray can help to safeguard the forests. Many trees that are cut down are never utilized, and many are thrown away. As a result, waste materials should be properly utilized[21]. Continuous land clearance for agricultural purposes is growing unsafe and will eventually result in land loss, hence alternative solutions should be considered and implemented. Forest clearing for building purposes contributes the most to forest clearance, hence more green belts around cities should be established to offset this. Afforestation is the most basic of all, yet it is also the most significant. All lands that have been deforested to carry out particular activities should be reforested after the objective has been fulfilled. This not only ensures forest coverage but also helps to preserve ecological balance. Forest fires have also become increasingly regular in recent years. When a forest fire breaks out, it’s difficult to put out. For this, specific approaches for controlling and preventing forest fires need to be devised. Sustainable resource usage is just as vital as resource conservation. Resources should be used in such a way that future generations are not forced to make sacrifices due to the present. There are a variety of procedures that are recognized, and it all relies on whether the method is natural or artificial. Moreover, the procedures vary from one place to the next. This will not only contribute to sustainable development but will also assist communities in understanding what type of care individual trees require and in uniting local communities.


“The Forest Rights Act of 2006” was enacted with the primary goal of recognizing Scheduled Tribes and traditional forest dwellers’ forest rights. The statute ensures that forest inhabitants’ livelihoods are protected in the manner that they have been used for centuries. While commercial use of community forest resources is important to boost the economic condition of the country, it should be ensured that such usage is done without disturbing the balance of nature and harming the livelihoods of those heavily dependent on it. The gap between sustainable usage and exploitation must be realized by the Government.

There should be stringent laws that guarantee stricter punishments for offences under the Act. The Management of these resources is important to keep in check their overexploitation. Being rich in natural resources, India is heavily dependent on them and it is one of the Country’s greatest blessings. The conservation and sustainable use of forest resources is essential, not just for the benefit of the economy in the long run, but also to maintain the balance of nature. With depleting forest covers, increasing natural disasters, and an alarming imbalance in the climate, it is a matter of concern and utmost urgency, that we manage these resources while conserving and sustainably using them to contribute to our economy. Sustainable use of forest resources is not just for the protection of the forests, but will also benefit us in the long run, as the resources last longer and are not on the verge of depletion. 

[1] Prakash Tripathi, Tribes and Forest: A critical appraisal of the tribal forest right in India, 06 The International Journal Research Publication’s, 1 (2016),

[2] Forest Right Act, 2006, § 1, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 2006 (India).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] The Forest Rights Act A weapon of democracy in the forests, Creative Commons (Sep. 07, 2021, 17:15 PM),

[6] Forest Right Act, 2006, § 3, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 2006 (India).

[7] The Forest Rights Act A weapon of democracy in the forests, Creative Commons (Sep. 07, 2021, 17:15 PM),

[8] Forest Right Act, 2006, § 2(a), No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 2006 (India).

[9] Forest Right Act, 2006, § 3(1)(i), No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 2006 (India).

[10] Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, (Sep. 07, 2021, 18:27).

[11] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, (Sep. 07, 2021, 18:43).

[12] Ibid

[13] Forest Right Act, 2006, § 2(0), No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 2006 (India).

[14] Forest Right Act, 2006, § 2(c), No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 2006 (India).

[15] Forest Right Act, 2006, § 4(1), No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 2006 (India).

[16] Himadri Ghosh, Environmental Damage, (Sep.07,2021, 19.09),

[17] Forest Right Act, 2006, § 1, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 2006 (India).

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Four reasons why the Forest Rights Act fails to empower forest-dwelling communities, Oxfma India (Sep.07, 2021, 19.17),

[21] Kumar, How to conserve forest resources, environmentalpollution (Sep.07, 2021, 19.29),

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