Initiative on Forest Economy
Upscaling the recognition of Community Forest Resource (CFR) Rights and community-led governance for the protection and management of forests in India.
With novel technological applications, decentralized institutional structures, and convergence across policies, the Forest Governance initiative will create a productive, sustainable, inclusive, and empowering forest economy that contributes towards India’s global commitments for sustainable development.
ContextApproximately 21.5% of India’s land area is classified as forest lands and nearly 250 million people depend on forests for their livelihoods fully or partially. The Indian parliament enacted the Forest Rights Act (FRA) in 2006 in response to an unprecedented mobilization of forest dependent communities demanding forest rights for survival and dignity. The Act empowers communities to govern forests recognized as CFRs, thereby creating an autonomous statutory institutional structure which is downwardly accountable and can accommodate customary governance systems. However, to date, barely 3% of the potential of the CFR potential in the country has been achieved.
The potential of CFR recognition to create jobs and livelihoods in the rural sector of India is immense. This is evident from the experience across India where CFR rights have been recognized. Communities with secure tenure have not only earned substantial incomes from the sale of Seasonal Forest Products in a formal economy, but have also started protecting the CFRs, restoring degraded forests, and protecting biodiversity.
The initiative on Forest Economy is an effort to create partnerships between local communities as custodians of forests, industries as the users of Seasonal Forest Products, and government agencies as the facilitators of job and wealth creation. We will build and formalize linkages between the local communities and industry partners with novel technological applications, decentralized institutional structures, and convergence across policies. We will create synergies between public policy goals, statutory provisions, private sector engagement, and market opportunities in forest landscapes of India through forest-based collective enterprises. Our institutional design will secure livelihoods while protecting against market risks within a framework of community forest ownership.