It is one of the many surviving colonial statutes. It was enacted to ‘consolidate the previous laws relating to forests that were passed before the 1920s, the transit of forest produce, and the duty leviable on timber and other forest produce’.
The Act gave the State Government the power to create Reserved Forests, and the right to use Reserved Forests for Government use alone. It also created Protected Forests, in which the use of resources by local people was controlled. Some forests were to be controlled by the village community, and these were called village Forests. The Act remained in force till the 1980s when it was realized that protecting forests for timber production alone was not acceptable. The other values of protecting the services that forests provide and its valuable assets such as biodiversity began to overshadow the importance of their revenue earnings from timber.
This led to the Forest Conservation Act of 1980 and its amendment 1988.
- Reserve forest shortly written as RF
- It is within power of a state Government to issue a preliminary notification under section 4 of the act declaring that land details having its location, area and boundary description following into a Reserved Forest.
- Deputy Commissioner of the concerned district is appointed as forest settlement officer.
- The forest settlement officer fixes a period not less than three months for landowners to claim any rights over the land which is so notified to be reserved.
- The state Government issues notification under section 20 of the Indian forest act, 1927 declaring that piece of land to be a Reserved Forest.
THE FOREST (CONSERVATION) ACT 1980 and Rules 1981
The principal objective of this Act is protection of and the conservation of the forests. Itstrictly restricts and regulates the de-reservation of forests or use of forest land for non- forest purposes without the prior approval of Central Government. To this end, the Act lays down the pre-requisites for the diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes.
The Act was amended in 1988 and Rules were amended in 1992.
Forest conservation is the planned management of the forest environment to prevent its exploitation, destruction or neglect. There is a need for conservation of forests as population increases rapidly, resources are constantly exploited, pollution is dramatically increasing with respect to time and damages caused by the development activities are irreversible.
Section 2 of this Act requires the approval of Central Government before a State Government
“De-reserves” a reserved forest, uses forest land for non-forest purposes, assigns land to private person or corporation or clears forest land for the purpose of reforestation. In other words, the Act provides restriction on the de-reservation of forest or use of forest land for non-forest purpose. Here, non-forest purpose means breaking up or clearing of any forest land or portion thereof for cultivation of tea, coffee, spices, rubber, palms, oil bearing plant, horticultural crops or medicinal plants or for any purpose other than reforestation.
An Advisory Committee constituted under section 3 of this Act advises the Government with regard to the grant of approval under Section 2 and any other matter connected with conservation of forests.
Whoever contravenes or abets the contravention of any of the provisions of section 2 of this Act, shall be punishable under Section 3A with simple imprisonment for a period which may extend to fifteen days.
Section 4 empowers the Central Government to make rules for carrying out the provisions of this Act by notification in the official gazette.