Forest Protection Rally
Following the Umed Lodha Environmental Award Ceremony on February 12, scores of tribal villagers and Seva Mandir staff led a rally to the Office ofthe Commissioner of Tribal Area Development in order to sensitize both the Udaipur community and local government to the issue of inadequate forestland management in India.
The 2006 Forest Rights Act enables individuals to gain entitlement on any forest land if they have encroached upon and been living there for a certain number of years. In villages where Seva Mandir is working, many communities have been involved in protecting and managing forestlands. In doing so, many have given up their illegal encroachment on these lands for the community benefit. The rally was an attempt to recognize community efforts over individual gains and to motivate other stakeholders in the society to identify with these village communities’ efforts.
The participants marched to draw attention of the common people in the city for the 2006 Forest Rights Act, which has led to serious issues of encroachment in forests that are incredibly valuable to rural communities. As an alternative, the Forest Protection Committees (FPCs) have called for the leasing of forestland to entire communities instead of individuals. The hope was to create awareness and to draw attention of the government to address forestland issues so that an open dialogue can begin between the state and community-led FPCs.