The Chhattisgarh government has become only the second state in the country to recognise Community Forest Resource (CFR) rights of a village inside a national park.
Kanger Ghati National Park is the second national park, after Simlipal in Odisha, where CFR rights have been recognised.
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.
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.
Under Forest Rights Act, 2006, Community Forest Resource Right gives gram sabhas the right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any forest resources used by the entire community, or village.
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.
Importance of CFR rights:
The FRA came into force in 2008 with aim to undo the “historic injustice” meted out to forest-dependent communities due to curtailment of their customary rights over forests.
It is important as it recognises the community’s right to use, manage and conserve forest resources, and to legally hold forest land that these communities have used for cultivation and residence.
It also underlines the integral role that forest dwellers play in sustainability of forests and in conservation of biodiversity.
It is of greater significance inside protected forests like national parks, sanctuaries and tiger reserves as traditional dwellers then become a part of management of the protected forests using their traditional wisdom.