The community forest resource area is the common forest land that has been traditionally protected and conserved for sustainable use by a particular community. The community uses it to access resources available within the traditional and customary boundary of the village; and for seasonal use of landscape in case of pastoralist communities.
Each CFR area has a customary boundary with identifiable landmarks recognised by the community and its neighboring villages. It may include forest of any category – revenue forest, classified & unclassified forest, deemed forest, DLC land, reserve forest, protected forest, sanctuary and national parks etc.
Why is the recognition of CFR rights important?
- Aimed at undoing the “historic injustice” meted out to forest-dependent communities due to curtailment of their customary rights over forests, the FRA came into force in 2008.
- It is important as it recognises the community’s right to use, manage and conserve forest resources, and to legally hold forest land that these communities have used for cultivation and residence.
- It also underlines the integral role that forest dwellers play in sustainability of forests and in conservation of biodiversity.
- It is of greater significance inside protected forests like national parks, sanctuaries and tiger reserves as traditional dwellers then become a part of management of the protected forests using their traditional wisdom.
- Section 3(1)(i) of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act recognises certain rights (commonly referred to as the Forest Rights Act or the FRA).
- They acknowledge the right to “guard, regenerate, conserve, and manage” the communal forest resource.
- These rights enable the community to establish regulations for its own and others’ forest usage, allowing it to fulfil its obligations under Section 5 of the FRA.
- Getting a consensus amongst various villages about their traditional boundaries often proves a challenge.
- Dilution of the Act: Some environmentalists are concerned that the FRA favours individual rights above community rights, limiting the scope of communal rights.
- Institutional Roadblock: Gram Sabha prepares rough maps of community and individual claims, but it often lacks technical know-how and is educationally incompetent.
- The FRA has being abused, and communities have been rushing to register claims. FRA has been viewed as a land distribution exercise by politicians from all parties, who have set objectives for districts.
It is critical that central and state governments be bolstered with human and financial resources to assist in the mission mode implementation of FRA.
The forest bureaucracy must also be transformed to function as service providers to gram sabhas, in addition to employing contemporary technology to map and monitor FRA implementation.
How to structure
- Give an intro about community forest rights
- Explain the importance of it
- Discuss the efforts made by the government to defend them
- Mention challenges faced
- Write way forward