“Indian wildlife conservation cannot be based on perpetuating this legacy of cultural (if not physical) genocide of our indigenous communities who have shaped and been shaped by, the ecological landscapes they have co-inhabited with wildlife. We need to move towards evolving site specific conservation strategies, based on the best available indigenous and scientific knowledge through transparent and consultative processes involving all concerned parties, particularly they local communities” (Darwin Initiatives p.187)
In 1927, the India Forest Act was created for the purpose of supplying the British with timber and had nothing to do with conserving the forest or considering the rights of the people who lived there. This act led to numerous dire consequences, such as but not limited to:
- More than 90% of India’s grasslands had been lost to commercial plantations
- Around 5 lakh hectares of forest had been destroyed for mines, dams, and other such projects
- Monoculture plantations replaced forests
- Pressure was put on people to abandon their forest homes or live as “criminals” within the forests or near them
In 2006, the Forest Rights Act was established, and was made on behalf protecting both forests and those who dwell in them. More specifically, the FRA granted legal recognition to the communities who are traditional forest dwellers. The people who are regarded as forest dwellers are described as those who primarily live in forest or forested areas and depend on these environments for their livelihoods. In addition, these people are recognized as members of a Scheduled Tribe, which lends to them being regarded even more within the FRA. For more details and information about the history, present rights, impacts, and more please refer Forest Rights Act.