An Understanding of the Laws Relating to Reserved Forests, Village Forests and Protected Forests

An Understanding of the Laws Relating to Reserved Forests, Village Forests and Protected Forests

Oshin Suryawanshi


This Blog is written by Oshin Suryawanshi from Amity Law School, NoidaEdited by Prakriti Dadsena.



India acquires the 10th position amongst all the countries in terms of forest area. Consistent with the India State Forest Report 2018, “the total forest cover of the county is 708,273 sq. km, which is 21.54% of India’s geographical area. The country’s tree cover has been estimated to be 93, 815 sq. km, which is 2.85%”.

Understanding Reserved, Protected, and Village Forests. Reserved forests constitute quite half the entire forest area of India. It’s a particular degree of protection. The respective state governments protect them, unlike wildlife sanctuaries and national parks supervised by the govt of India. It’s considered the foremost valuable sort of forest from the attitude of conservation. Protected forests are taken care of by the govt. But certain activities like hunting, grazing, or timber collecting are allowed to folks that survive the boundaries of forests and are partially or wholly hooked in to the forest resources for livelihood, provided they do not cause severe damage to the woods. Village forests are protected and managed by village communities assign by state governments. The local communities may use it for timber or other forest produce, pasture, recreation, plantation, then on under prescribed conditions by state governments.

A Glimpse of Prior Legislations

The efforts for conservation of forests arose first in South India when a commission for inquiring into the supply of teak in Malabar forests was found out in 1880. By looking into the report by the commission, it had been decided that trees below 28 inches of girth shouldn’t be felled, which led to a declaration that teak trees had royalty rights within the south. No unauthorized felling of those trees was permitted.

Brandis, an military officer of Forests with Cleghorn as his assistant, did their research and concluded that separate legislation was necessary to guard forests and ensure proper management by vesting different authorities in several forest department employees. Division of labor was the necessity of the hour along side appropriate legislation. Subsequently, the primary Indian Forest Act was passed in 1865 and came into effect on 1st May 1865. It empowered British Indian government to require over any forest and conserve it. Still, the Act didn’t reach Madras presidency because its Board of Revenue held that the villagers had rights over the woods and therefore the government couldn’t take absolute control of it.

Later in 1878, a more modern Revised Version of the Indian Forest Act was passed to eliminate the drawbacks of the prior Forest Act, 1865. It also empowered the govt to regulate all the forest areas apart from Madras and a few other regions.


Indian Forest Act, 1927

The Indian Forest Act, 1927 was passed in 1927, which overrode all previous laws making them invalid. This Act was more straightforward, having 86 sections divided into 13 chapters. Its aims were as follows:

1. Consolidating laws concerning forests.

2. Transit of forest produce.

3. Levying duties on timber and other forest produce.

This Act empowers the govt. To need the authority of private forests owned by private owners if it’s “needed for a public purpose” as given under section 4 (Land Acquisition Act, 1894). This Act doesn’t define the term “forests.”

Section 2 of the Forest Act, 1927 has given the meaning of certain words like cattle, forest produce, forest officer, forest offense, river, timber, and tree, which effectively determines truth definition of those words, resulting in the accuracy of the legislation. The word “forest produce” doesn’t include “ivory” in its definition. Under section 77 of the Act, “Any person contravening any rule under this Act, for the contravention of which no special penalty is provided, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which can reach one month, or fine which can reach five hundred rupees or both.”

This Act laid an example for framing State Forest Acts. It boosted the govt tax income also by applying imposition of duty on timber.

Cons of Indian Forest Act, 1927

This Act was made to ease the conservation of forests and improve the management for an equivalent. However, thorough probation signifies that it emphasizes on:

Extensive lowering of trees legally.

Making a take advantage of felling the trees and therefore the products made out of them. This Act paved the way for the govt to take advantage of the forests by legally using its authority over people, making them helpless and needy. Even after independence, the profit-oriented attitude continued.

These some advocate a unique theory, that of rights of nature. This thesis promotes a structure of law that grants legal personhood, and successively, certain rights on the character.  Currently, legal systems, only protect an individual; if his rights are damaged by environmental degradation, they’re doing not protect the environment itself. `Rights of Nature’ may be a philosophy, relatively easy to know. If an entity is conferred either a requirement or a right, it’s recognized as a juristic person. Rights of nature’ extend legal personality to the natural environment. It argues that trees, rivers, lakes, mountain ranges, entire ecosystems can have a locus standi during a court of law. The concept of juristic persons has continuously evolved, initially, even all even citizenry weren’t protected by law, societies which possessed the despicable institution of slavery didn’t consider slaves to be persons. The promoters of rights of nature claim that our societal, moral, and legal development is, to some extent, where the natural environment should be recognized as a legal entity. Currently, an individual must plead an indirect violation of his or her rights or a conflict with greater public interest thanks to some developmental or business activity in an environmental suit.

Positive Effect of the Chipko Movement on the event of Forest Law and Policy in India consistent with Shekhar Patnaik, a Chipko activist now teaching history at Kumaon University in Nainital, A distinction is essential between what happened locally and the national and international movement that grew out of it. Chipko put forests on the political agenda within the country. The Forest Conservation Act of 1980 and thus the very creation of the environment ministry are because of the consciousness created by Chipko.

Wooden Furniture Work and Ors. v. The Government of Andhra Pradesh and Ors.

The forests in India are dwindling. On verification in 1975, forests were found in but eleven per cent of the entire land things discovered were rather alarming. In Andhra Pradesh there’s no chipku movement Effort however is formed to streamline the statutes, to preserve trees.

It are often seen within the above case-law that the court considered the Chipku incident, and this successively was instrumental in directing the mind of the court towards a just outcome and judgement.

The Godavarman Cases: The water line in Forest Protection

The pronouncements of the apex court during this regard are often summarized as follows:

(i) Forest means everything included under the government as forest irrespective of ownership.

(ii) A Mining license in such a neighborhood without prior approval is violative of the Forest Conservation Act.

(iii) All sawmills within a distance of 100 kilometers from the border of the state of Arunachal Pradesh are to be aroused.

(iv) Responsibility is imposed on each government to report on the number of sawmills, the actual capacity of the mills.

ln Tamil Nadu, the tribal people that are a part of the social forestry program in respect of patta lands aside from forests may still grow and cut trees only in accordance to the government scheme and accordance with the related laws applicable.

Directions got that the committee should prepare a listing of all timber. whether in transit or lying in mills and to look at whether the utilization or sale of timber or timber products might be permitted through the state forest corporations under its overall supervision. Collection of minor forest produce, including bamboo, might be exempted. This exception may be a significant holding of the court.

The Godavarman cases seem to suggest that the sale of timber and felled trees shall even be made through state corporations and not through private channels. Significantly, the apex court continued to watch the activities during a series of Orders subsequently. The proliferation of wood-based industries is feared to the most explanation for forest depletion.


An analysis of the above discussed Godavarman Thirumalpad Case shows how the courts tailored the requirements of the changing times into the dominant mechanism. The judiciary’s role in protecting forest and wildlife by leaving the core areas uncovered by law as fields appropriate for legislative action instead of for judicial formulation is significant. Besides emphasizing the importance of forests, the courts endeavored to guard the rights of tribal people and persons suffering from development projects, which form a part of the forest environment. Relying on the ‘public trust’ doctrine to protect and preserve forest and natural resources, they tried to enforce the concept of sustainable development to unravel the environment-development dilemma.





(4) The Sind Wildlife Protection Ordinance, 1972 (Sindh ….

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