Indian Forest Wealth

Topics: Forest, Biodiversity, Tropical rainforest Pages: 27 (9736 words) Published: August 27, 2012
Table of Contents
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During the First millennium, the entire Indian subcontinent had dense forests with scattered islands of cultivation. The chronicles of Greek and Chinese writers recorded the luxurious forests which were inaccessible to man in the land between Himalayas and Vindyas. The economic and cultural life of the nation centered on rivers and forests and they were held to be sacred. Animal life flourished in the dense forests without the fear from man. The impenetrable forests provided the desired habitat for the healthy growth and sustenance to wildlife. The situation, however, changed dramatically in the last century of the Second millennium. Growth of civilization, industrialization world over, population pressure associated with the demand for food and requirement of more agricultural land had its impact on the forests of the subcontinent. The land between the Himalayas to Kanyakumari with isolated and sporadic human settlements of the 1st millennium has today sprawling human settlements, ever expanding cities and towns, increasing network of transportation channels. Thus the modernization has resulted in the same land of the 1st millennium look more like full of manmade structures. The forests are now scattered and isolated and mostly restricted to the protected areas enforced by legal provisions. Indian forest flora is very rich in composition and value. There are about 5000 species of woody trees in our forests, of which nearly 450 are commercially valuable. Indian forests have been catering to the requirement of commercial timber for the growth of the country. With the growth of industries, demand on the commercial timber also increased manifold. It has been and continues to provide vast multitude of the rural poor their sustenance. They are dependent on the forests for their food, agricultural and housing requirements. Bulk of the tribal population and rural poor residing in the forest fringe settlements or in the hinterland still depends solely on the forests for their survival and sustenance. In rain fed areas, rural poor sustain their livelihood from the non-timber forest products in the lean season. The forests continue to be a major raw material supplier to the industrial sector. The major commercial products like creosote, methyl alcohol, lubricating and dyeing oils and valuable drugs are extracted from these forests. Forests also provide the non-wood products such as rubber, latex, resins, gums, lac, incense, perfumes, fibres and tanning material and herbal medicines. Large scale utilization of forest products, unregulated conversion of forests for agricultural and commercial use has caused serious depletion of the forest cover. India under the colonial rule introduced scientific forest management in the last part of the eighteenth century. National Forest Policy was formulated followed by legislation to set aside large tract of forest land into Reserved Forests where rights could not be exercised until and unless specifically permitted. The Indian Forest Act was formulated and applied for protection of the forests. Commercial exploitation of the forests however, continued. The National Forest Policy was again formulated in the year 1952 and then modified in the year 1988. Importance of the forests was realized and by constitutional amendment, forest was taken to concurrent list. The wild life Protection Act, the Forest Conservation Act, considered as the land marks in forest legislation were formulated. Later, Biodiversity Act has been promulgated to further protect the rich biodiversity of the country. Forest management in India has witnessed a paradigm shift both in principle and implementation. Commercial...
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