Act and Rules
After 1800 A.D., the British laid the foundation of Scientific forest management
in our country. Consolidation of forest areas, legal classification ad
protection were accorded to forests which proved effective.
It is interesting to note that our forests were initially reserved from areas
which were earlier classified as 'waste lands'. During such reservation,
considerable amount of forest areas were left out for the use of people and
these were placed under the Revenue Department.
Reservation was a very slow process and it took nearly 35 years ( 1865 to 1900)
to constitute the reserved forests throughout the country.
The administration or our forests was codified for the first time in 1865, when
the Indian Forest Act (VII of 1865) was placed on the statute book.
Subsequently, this was replaced by the Indian Forest Act (VII of 1878) which was
further amended in the year 1890, 1901, 1918, 1919 and 1927.
The forest Act of 1878 ensured that the reservation of forests did not affect
the existing rights of individuals or communities.
During the initial stages, protection and consolidation was the primary task
since the forests were considered as no man's area.
Legislations ensuring protection and restrictions on burning, cutting and
grazing were imposed. In a reserved forest, everything was ' prohibited' unless
'permitted'. Whereas, in protected forest everything was ' permitted' unless
'prohibited'. Apart form these village forests and undemarcated forests were
The Constitution of India makes specific references for preserving our
environment. The following duties and responsibilities for the State and citizen
are enshrined in the section on the Directive Principles of state Policy.
Article 48 - A.- "The State shall endeavor to protect and improve the
environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.
Article 51-A.- " It shall be the duty of every citizen of India
(g) to protect and
improve the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife,
and to have compassion for living creatures'.
The first policy was enunciated during the year 1894 and the second one in 1952.
Over the years, due to various obvious reasons, the vegetal cover of the country
has shrunk considerably. This changed situation has necessitated the review of
the earlier policy apart from a concerted scheme of action for forest
The National Forest Policy of 1988 states that 'Conservation' includes
preservation, maintenance, sustainable utilization, restoration and enhancement
of the natural environment.
The basic objectives indicated include maintenance of environmental stability
preservation of natural forests, checking erosion, increasing substantially the
forest cover, meeting the requirements of the rural and tribal populations,
increasing the productivity of forests to meet essential national needs,
encouraging efficient utilization of forest produce and maximizing substitution
of wood and creating a massive people's movement for achieving these objectives.
The new resolution emphasizes the fact that derivation of economic benefit must
be subordinated to the principal aim of ensuring environmental stability.
Legislation for Wildlife
Conservation of wild fauna has been duly emphasized in our constitution.
the enactment of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, wildlife legislation
consisted of various rules made under the Indian Forest Act and State Forest
Acts. Some of the earlier Acts were : 'Elephants Preservation Act of 1879', Wild
Birds and Animals Protection Act of 1912; 'Tamil Nadu Preservation of Wild
Elephants Act of 1878' and the 'Bombay Wild Animals and Birds Protection Act of
1951'. The last one was more comprehensive and can be regarded as the forerunner
of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
Creation of National Parks, Sanctuaries,
regulations to conserve endangered animals, restriction to hunt and trade in
wild animals are enshrined in the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
The Forest Conservation Act
Prior to 1976, the State Governments had full control over the management of
forests and the Government of India's role was advisory in nature, since forest
was a 'State subject' under our Constitution. Subsequently, forests and wildlife
were brought under the 'concurrent list' following the 42nd Amendment, 1976.
The Govt. of India now exercises some
control, thereby preventing the deforestation in different States. With the per
capita forest coming to 0.11 hectare due to deforestation in the last three
decades, the Govt. of India promulgated an Ordinance called the "Forest
(Conservation) Ordinance, 1980" on the 25th October, 1980, followed by an Act
called "The Forest Conservation Act, 1980". Various guidelines have been issued
under this Act regarding the release of forest lands for non-forestry purposes.
Steps to be taken for compensating the loss of forest lands are also indicated.