Call of the Wild
Posted at: 03:42    By: Rajeev Shukla

Although parliament has passed the new forest bill – giving tribal settlers ownership rights to property in forests – legislation alone is not going to help tribal inhabitants much. What is more important is the implementation of the legislation at the ground level with the involvement and participation of the local population in it. As long as the rights to manage forests remain in the hands of callous government officials in the states, neither our wildlife will be protected, nor will the forests be preserved. What is worse, is that the local inhabitants in the forests will continue to suffer.


In my view, it is high time that India adopts the African model of managing forests, which has already become popular worldwide. If we are not willing to handover our forests to the private sector to be developed into game sanctuaries or safaris, we could at least develop a model in which there can be a form of public-private partnership by seeking guidance and help from well-known international companies, that have an expertise in developing safaris, sanctuaries and dense forests.


Such joint venture models hold the potential to not only generate billions of dollars in tourism revenues for the state, but to also actually aid the conservation and preservation of forests and wildlife, besides supplementing the incomes of the local inhabitants. I have seen in South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya that the local population in the forests earns respectable incomes out of its employment in the local safaris and sanctuaries. People also earn money from developing and marketing souvenirs and materials out of the forest produce.

User Comments
Amit Shinde  (Friday, June 20, 2008 3:45:21 PM)

The African model of managing forests has spelt a winning situation for the local people, tribals and the government of Africa too. Money is being generated and is being reinvested to protect the flora and fauna of the region. I don’t see any reason why India should shy away from such a potentially lucrative model.

Joseph Verghese  (Friday, June 20, 2008 3:44:41 PM)

Legislation alone has rarely resulted in any positive outcome in our country. Legislations hardly ever translate into implementation of rules. Be it framing a legislation quoting the minimum required age for marriage or the minimum compensation for workers. Skepticism on the new forest bill is therefore is not surprising. I do wish the government either takes concrete steps and ensures on its end implementation of the legislation at the ground level or adopts models as suggested in the article.

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Rajeev Shukla