Draft National Forest Policy cleared; Cabinet to take decision

Experts say the focus of the draft will be on water conservation

By Ishan Kukreti
Published: Tuesday 26 November 2019
Photo: Wikimedia

The draft National Forest Policy (NFP) 2018 has been cleared by various ministries at a meeting held on November 21, 2019, a senior government official told Down To Earth (DTE).

Representatives from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) and other ministries took part in the meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office.

“The meeting was held to discuss the NFP. Now, it is with the Cabinet, which will take a decision on it,” Siddhanta Das, director general of forest, MoEF&CC, said.

The draft of the NFP was released in March 2018 and comments were invited from the public.

“We have incorporated the comments and a revised draft has been made,” Das said. However, he declined to give any details about the draft.

However, experts said the focus of the draft will be on water conservation.

“I heard Siddhanta Das speak at two different forums saying that the priority with respect to forests has changed in the 21st century,” Distinguished Fellow in Environmental Policy and Governance Centre for Environment & Development, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Sharachchandra Lele, said.

“In this policy, our first priority is water conservation, followed by climate change mitigation through carbon sequestration and finally to secure livelihoods. The fact that they have kept livelihoods as the last priority is of concern as processes of climate change will first impact livelihoods, especially in countries like India,” he added

MoTA raised the issue of implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, (FRA) 2006, and the provision of the consent of Gram Sabha before forest diversion process takes place in the meeting, DTE has learnt.

The previous NFPs were focused on production and revenue generation of forests (NFP, 1894 and NFP, 1952) and environmental stability and maintenance of ecological balance (NFP, 1988).

The earlier draft of the NFP, 2018, talked about climate change mitigation through sustainable forest management.

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