FOREST CONSERVATION ACT (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     1st December 2023        
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Context: Recently, the Supreme Court opted not to stay amendments to the Forest Conservation Act, effective from December 1, following the Union government's assurance that no hasty actions would be taken until guidelines are established, allowing for exemptions from the new law's definition of a forest.

The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980

  • The Act empowers: The central government to demand proper compensation (compensatory afforestation) for any forest land diverted for non-forestry purposes. 

oIt also extends its jurisdiction to land that is not officially designated as "forest" in government records at the state or central level.

Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023

  • It amends: Forest Conservation Act, 1980 which provides for the conservation of forest land. 
  • Land under the purview of the Act:

oland declared/notified as a forest under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 or under any other law, or

oland not covered in the first category but notified as a forest on or after October 25, 1980 in a government record.

  • Exempted categories of land:

oforest land along a rail line or a public road maintained by the government providing access to a habitation, or to a rail, and roadside amenities up to a maximum size of 0.10 hectare.  

oland situated within 100 km from international borders, Line of Control, or Line of Actual Control, for construction of a strategic linear project of national importance and concerning national security,

oland up to 10 hectares, for constructing security-related infrastructure, or

oland proposed to be used for constructing defence related projects, camps for paramilitary forces, or public utility projects up to five hectares in a left-wing extremism affected area.  Etc.

Present Status Of Forests In India

  • India State of forest report (ISFR) 2021: The total forest (21.71%) and tree cover (2.91%) of the country is 24.62% of the geographical area of the country.
  • Increased in forest and tree cover: There is an increase of 0.22% of forest cover and 0.76% of tree cover compared to the 2019 report.
  • Top 3 states with an increase in forest cover: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Odisha.
    • State with the largest forest cover: Madhya Pradesh.