Context: The Chhattisgarh government has become only the second state in the country to recognize the Community Forest Resource (CFR) rights of a village inside a national park. The CFR rights of tribals living in Gudiyapadar, a hamlet inside the Kanger Ghati National Park in Bastar district, were recognized recently, giving the community power to formulate rules for forest use.
This topic of “Community forest resource and community forest resource rights” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.
What is a community forest resource?
- Each CFR area has a customary boundary with identifiable landmarks recognized by the community and its neighbouring villages.
- It may include a forest of any category – revenue forest, classified & unclassified forest, deemed forest, DLC land, reserve forest, protected forest, sanctuary and national parks etc.
What are Community Forest Resource rights?
- The Community Forest Resource rights under Section 3(1)(i) of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act (commonly referred to as the Forest Rights Act or the FRA) provide for recognition of the right to “protect, regenerate or conserve or manage” the community forest resource.
- These rights allow the community to formulate rules for forest use by itself and others and thereby discharge its responsibilities under Section 5 of the FRA.
- CFR rights, along with Community Rights (CRs) under Sections 3(1)(b) and 3(1)(c), which include nistar rights and rights over non-timber forest products, ensure sustainable livelihoods of the community.
- These rights give the authority to the Gram Sabha to adopt local traditional practices of forest conservation and management within the community forest resource boundary.
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 recognizes 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 the sustainability of forests and in the 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 the management of the protected forests using their traditional wisdom.
- But while CFR rights are an important empowerment tool, getting a consensus amongst various villages about their traditional boundaries often proves a challenge.
Practice Question for Mains
- Discuss how CFR rights are an important empowerment tool. (15 Marks, 250 Words).