Natural Vegetation of India – Forest Conservation

Natural Vegetation of India

Forest Conservation

  • Forest are the index of prosperity of a nation.
  • The ever increasing need for land for various purposes like industrial, domestic and agricultural has led to shrinking of forest areas. More over the accelerated rate of development has increased the rate of forest destruction.
  • Our increased demand for forest products has led to destruction and degradation of forests which has resulted in heavy soil erosion, variable rainfall and devastating floods. Depletion of forest has led to chain reaction in ecosystem.
  • The latest report of National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) indicates that the country is losing about 1.3 million forest cover each year.
  • Forests are the renewable resources but it take time for its regeneration. We are destroying the forest cover at so much fast rate that large tracts which were forests before are devoid of any forests now.
  • Hence, there is an urgent need for conservation of forests.
  • Forest conservation means proper use without causing any adverse effect on our economy or environment.
  • Conservation of forest is a national problem and it should be curbed as such.

Steps which can Help us in Forest Conservation

      • Afforestation – emphasis on massive afforestation program with main objective being on production of fuel wood, timber, grasses and small trees to cover up degraded and denuded lands.
      • Plantation of trees along the roads, railway lines, rivers, ponds etc.
      • Development of green belts in urban areas and plantation of trees on community lands.
      • Encroachment of forest areas for agriculture should be made punishable.
      • Rural areas should be provided with alternate to Fuel wood and wood based products.
      • Plantation of community forests in Gram-Sabha lands.
      • Customary rights and concession like grazing, collection of fuel-wood and fodder from forests by the local people should not be allowed to exceed the carrying capacity of the forests.
      • Mining and development projects should be properly planned to avoid damages to the forests.
      • Mining should have an obligatory clause of reforestation when the process of mining is complete.
      • Industries should adopt anti-pollution devices and must develop and compensate the forest loss by new plantation.
      • Shifting cultivation should be gradually replaced by terraced farming and orchards development and silviculture.
      • Scientific methods should be adopted to check and contain forest fires.
      • More research on forestry in agricultural universities, for which funds should be provided by the government.
      • Scientific methods and processes should be applied to fight against the plant diseases in forests.
      • People should be encouraged to participate in the Van-Mahotsav and should be made aware about Chipko movement.
      • There should be special audio-visual programmes, demonstrations, seminars and workshops to develop awareness among the people about the importance of the forest.

The Role of Communities in Forest Conservation

Communities have played a vital role in the conservation and protection of forests in India.

Chipko Movement

role of community in forest conservation in India, chipkko movement

      • The name of the Chipko moment originated from the word ’embrace’ as the villagers used to hug the trees and protect them. It is a social-ecological movement that practiced the Gandhian methods of Satyagraha and nonviolent resistance, through the act of hugging trees to protect them from falling.
      • This movement headed by Shri Sunderlal Bahaguna in the Himalayas not only successfully resisted deforestation in several areas but also showed that community afforestation with indigenous species can be enormously successful.
      • The modern Chipko movement started in the early 1970s in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand, with growing awareness towards rapid deforestation.
      • The landmark event in this struggle took place on March 26, 1974, when a group of peasant women in Reni village, Hemwalghati, in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, India, acted to prevent the cutting of trees and reclaim their traditional forest rights that were threatened by the contractor system of the state Forest Department.
      • By the 1980s the movement had spread throughout India and led to formulation of people-sensitive forest policies, which put a stop to the open felling of trees in regions as far reaching as Vindhyas and the Western Ghats.
      • The first recorded event of Chipko however, took place in village Khejarli, Jodhpur district, in 1730 AD, when 363 Bishnois, led by Amrita Devi sacrificed their lives while protecting green Khejri trees, considered sacred by the community, by hugging them, and braved the axes of loggers sent by the local ruler, today it is seen an inspiration and a precursor for Chipko movement of Garhwal.

Appiko Movement

      • Appiko – to express one’s affection for a tree by embracing it
      • Pandurang Hegde launched the Appiko Movement in Karnataka in 1983. The Chipko movement in Uttarakhand in the Himalayas inspired the villagers of the district of Karnataka province in southern India to launch a similar movement to save their forests.
      • In September 1983, men, women and children of Salkani ‘hugged the trees’ in Kalase forest. (The local term for ‘hugging’ in Kannada is Appiko.)
      • Its objectives were afforestation as well as development, conservation and proper utilization of forests in the best manner.
      • Appiko movement was a revolutionary movement based on environmental conservation in India.

Silent Valley Movement

      • The silent valley is an area of tropical evergreen forests in Kerala.
      • It is among the last tracts of virgin tropical evergreen forest in India and is very rich in bio-diversity.
      • The environmentalists and the local people strongly objected to the hydel power project being set up here in 1973.
      • Under pressure, the government had to declare it a national reserve forest in 1985.

Joint Forest Management

      • This programme furnishes a good example for involving local communities in the management and restoration of degraded forests.
      • The programme has been in formal existence since 1988 when the state of Orissa passed the first resolution for joint forest management.
      • JFM depends on the formation of local (village) institutions that undertake protection activities mostly on degrade forest land managed by the forest department.
      • In return, the members of these communities are entitled to intermediary benefits like non – timber forests produce and share in the timber harvested by successful protection.
      • Certain societies revere a particular tree which they have preserved from time immemorial. E.g. the Mundas and the Santhals of Chhotanagpur region worship Mahua and Kadamba trees and the tubes of Orissa and Bihar worship the Tamarind and many trees during weddings.

Forest Policy and Laws for Forest Conservation

a. Forest Policy, 1894

    • First declared by British government of India on 19 Oct, 1894 on recommendation of Dr. Voelcker.

b. National Forest Policy, 1952

    • It retained the major clauses of the earlier forest policy, new objectives were added to it.
    • It proposed the classification of forests on functional basis into protection forests, National forests and Village forests.
    • Stressed upon increasing pastures and timber. The policy also stressed that the productive, protective and bio-aesthetic roles of forest make the forest eligible to have an adequate share of land.
    • Aimed at bringing one-third of the total land area with 65% in hilly and 25% in plains under the forest cover.
    • It suggested the extension of tree lands on river/canal banks, roads, railways, cultivable waste and degraded lands.
    • The policy laid stress on –
        • Weaning the primitive people by advice, from the practice of shifting agriculture.
        • Increasing the efficiency of forest administration by having adequate forest laws.
        • Giving required training to the staff.
        • Providing adequate facilities for the management of forests and for conducting research in forestry and forest products utilization
        • Controlling grazing in the forestry.
        • Promoting welfare of the people.
        • Increase the area under social forestry.
        • Providing fuel woods to rural peoples.

c. The Forest Conservation Act, 1980

    • Enacted to check the indiscriminate deforestation of forest lands.
    • It was amended in 1988 with prescribing the punishment for violations.
    • Some Salient Features includes –
        • Working plans should be up-to-date and should stress on conservation of forests.
        • Preliminary plans should have multi-dimensional approach.
        • Tribal rights and concessions should be highlighted with control mechanism.
        • Grazing should studied and specific prescription should be cover fodder propagation.
        • Clear felling with artificial regeneration should be avoided as far as possible and clear-felling blocks should not exceed 10 hectares in hills and 25 hectares area in plains
        • Banning all felling above 1000 m altitude for a few years to allow to recover these areas.

d. National Forest Policy, 1988

    • This forest policy mainly emphasis on protection, conservation and development of the forests.
    • Its aim are –
        • Maintenance of environmental stability through preservation and restoration of ecological balance.
        • Conservation of forest as natural heritage.
        • Check on soil erosion and denudation in catchment areas of rivers, lakes and reservoirs.
        • Check on extension of sand dunes in the desert areas of Rajasthan and along coastal tracts.
        • Substantial increase in forest cover through massive afforestation and social forestry schemes.
        • Steps to meet requirement of fuel wood, fodder, minor forest produce and soil timber of rural and tribal populations.
        • Increase in productivity of forest to meet the national need
        • Encouragement of efficient utilization of forest produce and optimum substitution of wood.
        • Steps to create awareness between peoples and achieve the objectives with minimizing the pressure on existing forests.
        • Involvement of people in forest management under Joint forest Management.


Governmental Institutions for Forest Conservation

Government institution for conservation of forest

    • The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) was created in 1987 under the Central Ministry of Environment and Forests.
    • Afterward it was constituted into autonomous body with its headquarters at Dehradun.
    • Following research institutions are working under this organisation –
        • Forest research Institute, Dehradun
        • Institute of Arid Zone Forestry Research, Jodhpur
        • Institute of Rain and Moist Deciduous Forests, Jorhat
        • Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Jabalpur
        • Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding, Coimbatore
        • Temperate Forest Research Centre, Shimla
        • Centre for Forest Productivity, Ranchi and
        • Centre for Social Forestry and Environment, Prayagraj

Social Forestry

    • It can be described as “Forestry of the people, by the people and for the people”.
    • Social forestry means management and protection of the forests as well as afforestation of barren lands aimed at helping in environmental, social and rural development as against the traditional objective of securing revenue.
    • The term, social forestry, was first used in India in 1976 by The National Commission on Agriculture. It was embarked with the objective of taking the pressure off the traditional forests by the plantation of fuelwood, fodder, timber and grasses on unused and fallow land to the rural population.
    • This commission divided Social Forestry into –
        • Agro-Forestry
        • Expansion Forestry
        • Rehabilitation of degraded and low grade forests
        • Recreation forestry

Objectives –

      • To meet the need for fuel wood, small timber, bamboo, fodder and other minor forest produce on sustainable basis
      • To release cow dung as manure for increasing agricultural production
      • To provide gainful employment opportunities to rural peoples
      • To develop cottage industries
      • To provide efficient soil and water conservation
      • To improve aesthetic value of an area and to meet the recreational needs of the population.

The social forestry projects, however, failed because:

      • They did not involve women who were the main beneficiaries.
      • Market-oriented trees were planted. Thus communities and farmers saw it as a cash generating rather than basic need generating exercise. The wood ended up for urban and industrial use rather than fuel and fodder needs of the rural people.
      • Agro-forestry reduced land employment while absentee landlordism increased.


Agro forestry, Social forestry, community forestry, urban forestry, Notes on Indian Geography,

    • Agro forestry is a sustainable management for the land that increases overall production, combines agricultural crops, tree crops, forest plants and animal simultaneously and applies management practices that are compatible to cultural pattern of the local population.
    • Agro forestry is a type of social forestry in which tree farming and fodder plants, grasses and legumes are grown on the farmers land.
    • It involves raising of trees and agricultural crops either on the same land or in close association in such a way that all land including the waste patches is put to good use.
    • The Indian Council for Agricultural Research and Forestry Department jointly undertake agro-forestry research in order to develop suitable systems of land management which involves the integration of silviculture, with horticulture, agriculture and animal husbandry.
    • This enables the farmer to get food, fodder, fuel, fruit and timber from his land.
    • The land gives maximum production and provides employment to rural masses.
    • Under agro forestry farmer generally uses his degraded or useful land to plant trees for domestic use or commercial use.
    • Agro forestry have become very popular in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
    • Main Species of trees used are Eucalyptus, Poplar and Casuarinas.
    • Wood is mainly used for fuel wood, Plywood, paper and pulp manufacturing and Match industry.
    • The Agro forestry benefitted the Big farmers more than that of Marginal and small farmers.
    • Agricultural Labourers do not get employment due to the agro forestry as big farmers’ plants tree crops in their big agricultural lands.
    • Diversion of good agricultural land from cereal and commercial crops may create the problem of scarcity of food stuffs and industrial raw material.

Advantages of Agro Forestry

      • The absentee landlords go for agro forestry to retain title of the land and to increase their income.
      • To manage the agricultural land even without the availability of family labour.
      • To ensure better land use.
      • To generate employment.
      • To conserve soil moisture.
      • To meet the needs of fuel wood, fodder and timber.
      • To protect the arable land from wind and water erosion.

Adverse effect of Agro Forestry

      • Market oriented trees are preferred which damage the ecosystem. Instead of Poplar and eucalyptus, farmer should plant neem, Mahua, Arjun and Acacia.
      • Fuelwood and fodder trees are generally neglected.
      • Exotic varieties are soil-moisture and water exhaustive resulting in adversely affecting ground water table of the area.
      • Land under agro forestry become unproductive as the roots of the tree become so dense that they need intensive labour for their removal.
      • Trees become habitat for many pests and diseases which affect the crops.
      • In the field where the trees are planted the productivity per unit area decreases.

Community Forestry

    • Community forestry involves the raising of trees on public or community lands aimed at providing benefit to the community as a whole.
    • It is a part of Social Forestry. India has done well in the community forestry and stands only next to China.
    • The plants and seedling are provided by the forest department, the protection of the plantation is primarily the responsibility of the community.
    • It got successful in states like Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Kerala, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha and Himachal Pradesh.

Urban Forestry

    • It pertains to raising and management of trees on public and privately owned lands in and around urban centres.
    • It includes green belts, roadside avenues, recreational parks, wildlife parks etc.
    • Its main objective are reduction of environmental pollution, recreation and improving aesthetic values.

Other Initiatives for Forest Conservation

At present there are two major afforestation schemes namely:

1. National Afforestation Programme – NAP 

    • Aimed at afforestation and eco-restoration of degraded forests and adjoining areas with emphasis on community participation.
    • The village is reckoned as a unit of planning and implementation and all activities under the programme are conceptualized at the village level.
    • The overall objective of the scheme is to develop the forest resources with people’s participation, with focus on improvement in livelihoods of the forest-fringe communities, especially the poor.
    • Financial support under NAP Scheme is available for:
          • Mobilisation of village’s JFMC, and Micro-planning in project villages
          • Afforestation following components:
                • Aided Natural Regeneration
                • Artificial Regeneration
                • Bamboo plantation
                • Cane Plantation
                • Mixed Plantation of trees having MFP & medicinal value
                • Regeneration of perennial herbs & shrubs of medicine value
                • Pasture Development/ Silvipasture
          • Soil & Moisture Conservation
          • Fencing, Monitoring & Evaluation, Training, Awareness raising, Overheads

2. National Mission for Green India

    • Aimed at increasing the forest cover of country along with improving its quality.
    • Commonly called the Green India Mission (GIM) was launched in February 2014.
    • It is one of the eight Missions outlined under India’s action plan for addressing the challenge of climate change -the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
    • There is a component under Green India Mission to support forestry on farm lands for taking up Agro-forestry and Social forestry.
    • It aims at protecting; restoring and enhancing India’s diminishing forest cover and responding to climate change by a combination of adaptation and mitigation measures.
    • It envisages a holistic view of greening and focuses on multiple ecosystem services, especially, biodiversity, water, biomass, preserving mangroves, wetlands, critical habitats etc. along with carbon sequestration as a co-benefit.

Mission Goals

      • To increase forest/tree cover to the extent of 5 million hectares (mha) and improve quality of forest/tree cover on another 5 mha of forest/non-forest lands;
      • To improve/enhance eco-system services like carbon sequestration and storage (in forests and other ecosystems), hydrological services and biodiversity; along with provisioning services like fuel, fodder, and timber and non-timber forest produces (NTFPs); and
      • To increase forest based livelihood income of about 3 million households.

Other Government Initiatives for Forest Conservation

1. National Green Highways Mission

    • Launched in July 2016
    • The mission aims to provide a green canopy along 100,000 km of highways and create jobs for 1 million youth.
    • Under the mission, the government has made it mandatory to set aside 1% of the total project cost of any national highway contract to a Green Fund for plantation.
    • Objectives : “To develop eco-friendly National Highways with participation of the community, farmers, NGOs, private sector, institutions, government agencies and the Forest Department for economic growth and development in a sustainable manner.”

2. Nagar Van-Udyan Yojana

    • A programme for climate smart green cities.
    • It is a Pilot scheme recently launched for implementation for a period of five Years.
    • The scheme aims at developing 200 Nagar Van (City Forests) across the country in cities having Municipal Corporation or Municipalities.
    • A Nagar Van-Udyan is a forested area in the vicinity of a city accessible to the city dwellers suitably managed for providing a wholesome natural environment for recreation, conservation education, biodiversity conservation etc.

3. School Nursery Yojana

    • The main objective is to create awareness about environment and help students identify and learn about the various benefits of trees and plants. It seeks to bring students closer to nature and inculcate in them a sense of urgency to protect the environment.
    • Under the scheme, students will sow seeds and grow saplings in the school nursery as part of their practical exercise for Biology classes or as their extra-curricular activities.
    • The students will also carry out a tree census in their school and the locality.
    • Under this scheme, 1,000 schools of the country will be selected every year and each will raise at least 1,000 saplings by involving students. The saplings, raised by the students, will be planted in areas, earmarked for this purpose in consultation with local civic bodies or panchayats.


So, this was all about the Forest Conservation in India and various measures taken by government of India. With this our topic of Natural Vegetation in India of Indian Geography has been completed.

From the Next Post (Click Here), We will start a new topic of Wildlife of India.

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