Forest Resources | Centre for Science and Environment

Forest Resources


How government is subverting forest right act

By: Richard Mahapatra, Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava, Sumana Narayanan, Aparna Pallavi

Two tribal villages in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra—Mendha Lekha and Marda— savoured victory when they won community rights over their forest resources in August last year. The rights conferred under the Forest Rights Act of 2006 include the right to collect and sell minor forest produce (MFP). These include tendu leaves used in beedis, and bamboo that have high commercial value and were under the forest department’s control. Winning the right to manage these resources meant economic liberation to the two villages.

Is bamboo a tree or a grass?

The definition is contested as the answer has immense economic implications. If bamboo is a tree or timber, it belongs to the forest department and can be auctioned to the paper and pulp industry, often at throwaway rates. If it is a grass, then it would be classified as a minor forest produce and people would have the right to cut bamboo for sale or for value addition by making furniture or baskets.

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