ORANS (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     7th March 2024        

Context: Recently, a state government notification has instilled fear among Rajasthan community dwellers, anticipating the potential loss of access to forest produce and livelihoods due to the proposed classification of orans (sacred groves) as deemed forests, particularly affecting communities in western Rajasthan.


  • About: Orans are community forests preserving biodiversity, facilitating water management, and sustaining Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) extraction in Rajasthan's Aravali Mountain Range and Great Indian Desert.
  • Significance: Sacred groves represent historical, cultural, and emotional ties between human communities and forests, fostering unity and reverence among rural populations.
  • Challenges of Degradation and Depletion: Orans face degradation and depletion due to natural and anthropogenic factors, threatening their ecological and communal integrity.
  • The Extent of Orans: Rajasthan hosts approximately 25,000 orans, covering over 600,000 hectares, serving as vital lifelines for local communities.
  • Historical Degradation: Orans have suffered neglect, degradation, and opposition from various quarters, but efforts by organizations like KRAPAVIS aim to revive and restore their vitality.
  • Biodiversity Hotspots: Orans boast diverse flora such as rohida, bordi, kumbhat, and desi babool, alongside various grasses like sevan and murath, providing habitats for over 250 species of birds and animals.

Sacred Grooves

  • About: These are communally protected forests with significant religious connotations for the protecting community.

Community and Conservation Reserve:

  • About: Conservation reserves and community reserves in India are terms denoting protected areas of India which typically act as buffer zones to connectors and migration corridors between established national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and reserved and protected forests of India.
  • Declared by: State government.
  • Regulation: These protected area categories were first introduced in the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act of 2002 − the amendment to the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. 
  • Need: These categories were added because of reduced protection in and around existing or proposed protected areas due to private ownership of land, and land use.
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