Panel set up to ensure forest management | India News

NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Environment has set up a working group to study proposed amendments to the National Forest Policy Act 1980, the Forest Conservation Act and the regulatory regime for agroforestry or trees outside forest, and make recommendations to develop synergies between all aspects of forest management in the country. The 19-member task force, led by the director general of forests and special secretary to the ministry, will deliver its report by May 31.
The suggestions will help shape a new forest policy for India, clarifying the definition of ‘forest’ in the country by adopting uniform standards for the protection and management of green cover in line with India’s global commitments. .
“It was decided to set up a working group under the chairmanship of the director general of forests and the special secretary to study and analyze the national forest policy of 1988, the draft national forest policy, the proposed amendments to the forest law (conservation) of 1980 and the current regulatory regimes on agroforestry/trees outside forests across the country, in order to make recommendations to develop synergies for the promotion of sustainable development and the management of forests and trees outside forests in the country,” the ministry said.
With the exception of four members, including a legal consultant, the rest are drawn from different wings of government. Critics, however, pointed to the absence of any representatives from two hotspots – the Northeast and the Western Ghats – on the task force.
The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 is the main legislation regulating deforestation in India. It prohibits the diversion of forests for any “non-forest” use without prior clearing. In order to streamline it taking into account the decentralization of power for green pollution and the realization of infrastructure projects in forest areas, the ministry last year published a public consultation document on the proposed changes. The newspaper has, however, been harshly criticized by environmentalists.

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