Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change Current Affairs - 2019

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Amendments to the Indian Forest Act 1927

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has finalised the first draft of the comprehensive amendments to the Indian Forest Act, 1927. The amendments provide definitions to important terms that were missing from the law.

Features of the Amendments

  • The draft amendment defines community as “a group of persons specified on the basis of government records living in a specific locality and in joint possession and enjoyment of common property resources, without regard to race, religion, caste, language and culture”.
  • Under the proposed amendment Forest is defined to include “any government or private or institutional land recorded or notified as forest/forest land in any government record and the lands managed by government/community as forest and mangroves, and also any land which the central or state government may by notification declare to be forest for the purpose of this Act.”
  • The amendments shift the focus of the Indian Forest Act from laws related to transport of forest produce and the tax on it to conservation, enrichment and sustainable management of forest resources and matters connected therewith to safeguard ecological stability to ensure provision of ecosystem services in perpetuity and to address the concerns related to climate change and international commitments.
  • The amendment provides that if the state government, after consultation with the central government, feels that the rights under Forest Rights Act will hamper conservation efforts, then the state may commute such rights by providing compensation to maintain the social organisation of the forest-dwelling communities or alternatively set out some other forest tract of sufficient extent, and in a locality reasonably convenient, for the purpose of such forest dwellers.
  • The amendment introduces a new category of forests namely production forests which will be forests with specific objectives for production of timber, pulp, pulpwood, firewood, non-timber forest produce, medicinal plants or any forest species to increase production in the country for a specified period.

The amendments have been proposed based on the inputs of a core committee Inspector General of Forests (Forest Policy) Noyal Thomas.

Centre signs pact with Canadian University for Research on Environmental Issues

The Central government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada to work on various environmental issues including climate change, forest resource management and wildlife.

Features of the MoU

  • The MoU was signed by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) for the next 10 years to explore opportunities for collaborations in the field of forestry science.
  • The opportunities for collaboration will be explored through organizations like Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Forest Survey of India (FSI), Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy and Directorate of Forest Education, Uttarakhand, and UBC.
  • The MoU will assist in the exchange of students, researchers and faculty, developing research projects, livelihood opportunities and augment the income of the forest-based communities.
  • The MoU will also assist industries to optimise the utilisation of forest-based resources with access to technology to different stakeholders by the respective organisations.
  • The areas to be explored for collaboration under the MoU include Collaborative research on wood sciences, forest resource management, adaptation and mitigation to climate change, forest genetics and breeding, wildlife, ecology, remote sensing, insect and disease pests, extension, conservation of flora and fauna, biotechnology, bio-energy and bio-economy.

Joint conferences, seminars, workshops and exhibitions will be arranged as part of the MoU to take the collaboration forward.