Save our Forests! | National Forest Policy 2018 Explained by Dhruv RatheeOtis Rodgers September 12, 2019 100 Comments
Namashkar, friends! Our government is bringing: They have recently released a draft for it. Some of the things in the draft are so bad that they will severely threaten the forests of our country. It simply means that our forests are being sold to big companies and industries. Let’s know what it is. So, friends our old 1998 forest policy had a section on rights and concession and another one on tribal people and forests All these sections focused on indigenous people (‘adivasis’) who live in the forest. But in the 2018 draft policy both these sections have been removed. And three new sections have been introduced. So you see that the focus of tribals in our forest policy has been removed and seizing of forests by industries and plantations is being promoted. This says that the productivity of forest plantations is poor in most states. They say that the economic benefit or productivity from these areas is low. And they have said that, “This will be addressed by intensive scientific management of forest plantations of commercially important species. like teak, sal, polar and eucalyptus. The problem here is that if we only focus on commercial things only those kind will be grown and these plants are only grown to accrue profit They do nothing for the natural ecology of an area or state. Like the eucalyptus plants which soak in a lot of water. In 2016, the Karnataka government said this about the eucalyptus plant, “The lowering water level in their state is due to the eucalyptus plants.” So, it’s completely wrong that this draft only focuses on profit-making activities. We should focus on growing trees that fit with the natural ecology of that area. Not profit-making machines. This says that demand for timber and other forest produce is showing an increasing trend because of which the economy will continue to grow. This again, focuses on timber and how to meet demands for timber. It says that states would be encouraged to plant plants like these from which industries can get wood and timber. And alas! Indigenous plants are neglected again. An older report shows that normal forests have five times more rate of deforestation than tribal forests where indigenous people live We can see that tribal people and forests have a symbiotic relationship. This was also mentioned in our 1998 forest policy. It is important for tribal people and forests to stay together They both develop together and safeguard each other. And they also derive their livelihood from forests. We have seen the same sentiment in the Chipko movement and you also must have read about this in school as Joint Forest Management (JFM) Forest Report 2017 has told us that forests have increased by 1% than last year This is good news, you must be happy receiving this news but what this forest report didn’t tell was that many of these forest converted from being actual natural forests to becoming plantations. Our government counts forests and plantations into the same category but plantations can’t be counted under forests because plantations are often planted with commercially-profitable plants that are usually harmful to the environment and natural ecology of that area. So, in reality we don’t even know at what rate are our natural forests being depleted! This draft policy was created a month ago by the Ministry of Environement and then they said that they will be accepting suggestions on their emails. But the thing is that 14th April was the last day to give these suggestions. So, I am late to make this video! But I’m hopeful that even if we email them today they might consider our suggestions So, to make a list of suggestions I have consulted an environmental activist who has specified all the changes in the sections and policies that will make the draft better! I have linked the template email that he has given me. Please open that template, copy it and email it to these three emails: These are the emails of Ministry of Environment on which they had asked for suggestions. I am hopeful that they will take action on our suggestions- people watching this video from the Ministry of Environment or those who will read the suggestions. Because if we really want to save our natural forests we will need to safeguard them from all these plantations, companies and industries and keep them far away from our forests. Also, rights of tribal people or ‘adivasi’ people are as important as safeguarding our natural forests. So, friends please write that email and share this video! And I will now go back home and leave this jungle I will meet you all in my next video! Thank you!