Forest Conservation


Forests are a unique gift of nature to man and constitute one of the prized assets of a nation. They are of both direct and indirect use, and hence are aptly termed as an ‘index of prosperity of a nation’. Keeping in view the benefits which we derive from forests, it is of utmost importance that strong steps be taken to conserve forests


Forest conservation does not mean the denial of use, but rather the proper use without causing any adverse effect on our economy and environment. It is the practice of planning and maintaining forested areas for the benefit and sustainability of future generations


The following techniques could be used for forest conservation, which could eventually improve forested areas and make the available resources sustainable:

  1. Afforestation
    • It is the planting of trees for commercial purposes
    • Instead of taking resources from existing natural forests, afforestation is a process used to plant trees and use them as resources instead of naturally existing forests.
    • It also creates habitat for wildlife, recreational areas, and commercial use while not causing harm to natural forests
    • Van Mahotsava was launched in 1950 to make people aware of the importance of planting trees
  2. Selective logging
    • It is a method used to meet the needs of both the forests and humans seeking economical resources
    • Selective logging is the removal of trees within a stand based on size limitations
    • This technique allows for forest regeneration to occur between and after the selective harvest cycles
  3. Controlling forest fires
    • Forest fires are the most common and deadly cause of loss of forests
    • They can start due to natural causes or can be accidents caused by man
    • Hence, Precautions must be taken for such incidents. Making fire lanes, spreading chemicals to control fire, clearing out dry leaves and trees etc.
  4. Better farming practices
    • Slash and burn farming, overgrazing by cattle, shifting agriculture are all farming practices that are harmful to the environment and particularly to forests. Hence, these practices must be kept under control.
  5. Checking forest clearances for urbanisation
    • In the era of rapid urbanization and industrialization, clearing of forests either by encroachment or actual grant of permission is often done
    • Hence, strict policies should be in place, so as to avert forest land from urban encroachment


Forest Policy and Law for conservation

  • Indian Forest Policy, 1952
    • This was a simple extension of colonial forest policy, which became conscious about the need to increase forest cover to on-third of total land area
    • The policy laid stress on
      • Weaning the primitive people by persuasion, from the harmful practice of shifting cultivation
      • Increasing efficiency of forest administration by having adequate forest laws
      • Providing facilities for forest research and for conducting research in forestry and forest products utilisation
      • Controlling grazing in forestry
    • Forest Conservation Act 1980
      • This Act stipulated that the central permission is necessary to practice sustainable agro-forestry in forest areas. Violation or lack of permit was treated as a criminal offence
      • It targeted to limit deforestation, conserve biodiversity and save wildlife
      • This act provide hope of forest conservation, but wasn’t successful
    • Forest policy of 1988
      • It made a very significant and categorical shift from commercial concerns to focus on the ecological role of the forests and participatory management.
      • It aims were
        • Maintenance of environmental stability through preservation and restoration of ecological balance
        • Check on soil erosion and denudation in catchment areas
        • Substantive increase in forest cover through massive afforestation and social forestry programmes
        • Increase in productivity of forests to meet national needs
      • Other related acts for forest conservation are:
        • Wildlife protection act 1972
          • It provides for the establishment of wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, etc.
          • The National Board for Wildlife was constituted to offer advice to the central government on issues of wildlife conservation in India
        • National Green Tribunal Act, 2010
          • This was for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto
    • Compensatory afforestation fund Act, 2016
      • It seeks to provide an appropriate institutional mechanism, both at the Centre and in each State and Union Territory, to ensure expeditious utilization in efficient and transparent manner of amounts released in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose which would mitigate impact of diversion of such forest land.


What other initiatives/measures can be taken to conserve forests?

  • Support NGOs/movements
    • The Chipko Movement is a living examples of how general public action on forests can help conserve them
    • NGOs like the TREE Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and Rainforest Action Network offset deforestation and conserve threatened ecosystems around the world
    • In the absence of effective and environmentally-friendly governance in many areas, NGOs provide important organizational and monetary support for a variety of conservation efforts
  • Buy forest-friendly (or certified) products
    • There is a need to use one’s purchasing power in a high-impact way to prevent deforestation
    • Buying products that are certifies sustainable could help in certain manner to conserve forests
  • Promoting value education on Forests
    • Inculcating the principles to value forests through education and promoting forests like a tourist centre could help people realise the crucial role forests play, and eventually make them more responsible