New Delhi: India’s Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, has the potential to recognize rights of around 150 million tribals and forest dwellers on at least 40 million hectares of forested land across the country, said a study released on Wednesday.
At least 170,000 villages, around one-fourth of the country’s total, are eligible to claim community forest rights (CFR), said the study.
The study was conducted by Vasundhara, an Odisha-based non-governmental organization working on the issue of forest rights; Natural Resources Management Consultant and the Rights and Resources Initiative, a coalition of non-profit organizations.
FRA provides for community rights over their forests that allow the communities to protect and manage their forests and provides gram sabhas (village councils) with legal powers to govern their forests.
According to Indian government data, at least half of India’s forests fall within the definition of community forest resource, but according to the study, “barely 1.2% (500,000 hectares) of this area has actually been recognized" as such.