In this article, You will read Forest Conservation Act 1980 for UPSC IAS Exam.

Forest (Conservation) Act was enacted for providing a higher level of protection to forests and to regulate the diversion of forest lands for non-forestry purposes.

Forest Conservation Act 1980

Alarmed at India’s rapid deforestation and resulting environmental degradation, the Centre Government enacted the Forest (Conservation) Act in 1980.

It was enacted to consolidate the law related to forest, the transit of forest produces and the duty liveable on timber and other forests produce.

Forest officers and their staff administer the Forest Act.

The Forest Conservation Act, 1980 stipulated that central permission is necessary to practice sustainable agro-forestry in forest areas. Violation or lack of permit was treated as a criminal offense.

An Advisory Committee constituted under the Act advises the Centre on these approvals.

The Act deals with the four categories of forests, namely reserved forests, village forests, protected forests, and private forests.

It targeted to limit deforestation, conserve biodiversity, and save wildlife. Though this Act provides greater hope towards forest conservation it was not successful in its target.


  1. Section 2 of the act lists four criteria where permission of the Central Government is required for any action of State regarding –
    • Declaring that any reserved forest ceases to be reserved.
    • Use of forestland for non-forest purposes.
    • Leasing forest to any private person.
    • Declaring that any forest land may be cleared of trees that have grown naturally in that land, for the purpose of using it for reforestation.
  2. Removing self-regenerating forest for the creation of plantation is also the non-forest purpose.
  3. There is also a provision of compensatory afforestation. User agency has to pay for forestland as if is revenue land. NPV (Net Present Value) has to be paid for 50 years. NPV is an ecological cost of forests.
Reserved forest
  • A state may declare forestlands or waste lands as reserved forests and may sell the produce from these forests.
  • Any unauthorized felling of trees quarrying, grazing, and hunting in reserved forests is punishable with a fine or imprisonment, or both
Village forests
  • Reserved forests assigned to a village community are called village forests.
Protected forests
  • The state governments are empowered to designate protected forests and may prohibit the felling of trees, quarrying, and the removal of forest produce from these forests.
  • The preservation of protected forests is enforced through rules, licenses, and criminal prosecutions.

Degree of protectionReserved forests > Protected forests > Village forests

Drawbacks of the Forest (Conservation) Act:

  • This Act has just transferred the powers from States to Centres to decide the conversion of reserve forest lands to non-forest areas. Thus, powers have been centralized at the top.
  • The Act has failed to attract public support because it has infringed upon the human rights of the poor native people.
  • Very marginal participation of the poor community in the Act remains one of the major drawbacks which affects the proper execution of the Act.
  • Forest-dwelling tribal communities have rich knowledge about the forest resources, their values, and conservation. But their role and contribution are neither acknowledged nor honored.
  • Efforts are now being made to make up for gaps in laws by introducing the principles of Public trust or Human rights protection.

Forest (Conservation) Rules, 1981

  • This Act was amended in 1988. The special feature of this act is that it compels a State Government to take ‘prior approval’ of the Government of India if it de-reservation of forests or use of forest land for non-forest purposes.
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