IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


15th September, 2023 Environment

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  • The new guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) for conservation, management and sustainable use of Community Forest Resources (CFR) disempower Gram Sabhas (village assemblies) and shift control to the government - Experts.

What is a Community Forest Resource?

  • The community forest resource area is the common forest land that has been traditionally protected and conserved for sustainable use by a particular community.
  • The community uses it to access resources available within the traditional and customary boundary of the village; and for seasonal use of landscape in case of pastoralist communities.
  • Each CFR area has a customary boundary with identifiable landmarks recognised by the community and its neighboring villages. It may include forest of any category – revenue forest, classified & unclassified forest, deemed forest, DLC land, reserve forest, protected forest, sanctuary and national parks etc.

What are Community Forest Resource Rights?

  • The Community Forest Resource rights under Section 3(1)(i) of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act (commonly referred to as the Forest Rights Act or the FRA) provide for recognition of the right to “protect, regenerate or conserve or manage” the community forest resource.
  • These rights allow the community to formulate rules for forest use by itself and others and thereby discharge its responsibilities under Section 5 of the FRA.
  • CFR rights, along with Community Rights (CRs) under Sections 3(1)(b) and 3(1)(c), which include nistar rights and rights over non-timber forest products, ensure sustainable livelihoods of the community.
  • These rights give the authority to the Gram Sabha to adopt local traditional practices of forest conservation and management within the community forest resource boundary.

New Guidelines

  • The new guidelines focus on the formation of the District Level Committee (DLC) which entrusts Gram Sabhas or the community about who has rights over forest resources.
  • Section 5 underlines duties by empowering the holders of forest rights, Gram Sabhas and village-level institutions for the protection of wildlife, forests, and biodiversity and ensuring that all neighboring catchment areas, water sources, and ecologically sensitive areas are well protected.
  • It also specifies that the habitat of tribals and other traditional forest dwellers should be protected from any destruction that would harm their culture and natural heritage.
  • The section guarantees that decisions are taken by the Gram Sabha to regulate access to CFR and prevent any activity that would cause harm to wildlife, forests, and biodiversity.


  • The new guidelines call for constituting a DLC. But it is unclear as to who its members will be. There are about 700 tribal communities that function in their unique way and work closely towards forest conservation. Sacred groves are a unique example of how communities relate forests to their culture.
  • Allotted individual forest rights and CFR are two percent and five percent of the population respectively. Before giving forest rights, the government mentioned 30 percent of its forest land falling under CFR. In that sense, the amount of land owned by tribals continues to be minuscule. 

Moving Ahead

  • Rather than forming new guidelines, there is a need to draft committees to evaluate the progress of CFR.
  • There is a need to check the effects of CFR implementation since 2010 as there has been none since the program was implemented.
  • There is a need to check as to whether the quality of rights given to forest dwellers has improved. Has their income improved?
  • There is also a need to see if they continue to be forest resource collectors or are also helping manage and improve forest cover.


Q. What are Community Forest Resource Rights? What are the concerns pertaining to the new guidelines of Community Forest Resource Rights? Suggest a suitable Way Forward.