Forests and wildlife: Stakeholders


Keshav Bhatia, Academic Content Writer at Edumarz

All of us use forest produce but some use it and are dependent on it more than others, while some of us may have access to an alternative, many do not, thus there is varying dependency.


  1. People whose livelihood is dependent on the forest produce and live in or around the Forest. The locals.

  2. The Forest department of the Government, which controls the forest produce, owns the land and manages it. 

  3. The industrialists who are dependent on forests but not in any one area of the forest, from the industrialists who produce bidi using the Tendu leaves, to the industrialists who use timber for furniture and the industrialists that need wood to produce paper.
    They are dependent on forest produce, but they are not dependent on forests in any one area. 

  4. The conservationists and activists: Wildlife and nature enthusiasts who are not dependent on forests in any way but want to conserve nature and see it in its pristine form.

Stakes of the Locals

  • They obtain items they need to use daily from the forests

  • Large quantities of Firewood for cooking and heating.

  • Small timber and thatch for roofs

  • Bamboo to make baskets to collect and store food materials, also used to make slats for huts

  • Agricultural, fishing and hunting equipment is largely made from wood

  • Forests have rich biodiversity making them optimal sites for hunting and fishing

  • Medicinal herbs are collected by locals who have knowledge of herbs in the forest

  • Fruits and nuts are also gathered by the villagers

  • Livestock is raised on this forest land, fodder is collected from the forest and cattle graze in the forest land.

  • Advantages of local methods

  • This form of sustainable harvesting of forest resources usually does not cause exhaustion of resources, it has not happened in all of history.

  • The locals use the forest resources in a sustainable manner and have used them that way for centuries

  • When the British took control of India they brought an oppressive system with them

  • Forests were exploited recklessly and for profit of the colonial government

  • Forests started becoming over-exploited and the resources left for the locals were too scarce for their daily needs. They were left to scavenge for resources in a smaller area.

  • The government of Independent India took control of these forests from the British, but they didn’t change the policy of surveillance and control of the forests.

  • Forest department’s management practices still do not have knowledge of the local affairs and needs of the locals are still being ignored and they feel unheard.

  • Large amount of biodiversity has been destroyed by the forest department, by focusing on monoculture and planting huge tracts of pine eucalyptus or teak like plants that generate revenue for the forest department and are useful for industrial use.

  • These forest tracts are monocultural and local people cannot derive the items for their diverse needs, it means, enough medicinal herbs, leaves for fodder and edible fruit and nuts cannot be derived from these. They do not meet the needs of the local people because to plant monoculture plantations like these, biodiversity and varied vegetation has to be destroyed first.

Stakes of Industries

  • Industries need forests for raw material and interest groups associated with these industries often lobby the government to give them access to forest resources at artificially low rates.

  • Sadly, the interest groups have better influence on the government than the local people do.

  • Industries aren’t dependent on forest resources in a particular area, they are dependent on forests as a whole, but not one area.
    For example, the industry can move away from one particular forest to another after they exhaust all the resources in that particular forest. If they cut down all the trees needed for timber in one area, they always have someplace else to go for timber.

  • They do not have a stake in ensuring that the resources last for generations to come and are not exhausted in one generation recklessly. They also don;t have a stake in ensuring adequate production that will last generations.

Stakes of Nature and Wildlife Enthusiasts

First of all, the enthusiasts are in no way dependent on the forests.

The conservationists were at first only interested in large animals like Rhinoceros, lions, elephants and tigers but now they have realized the need to recognise the importance of saving biodiversity as a whole.

Local people have worked tirelessly for the conservation of forest historically, we can take the example of the Bishnoi people of Western Rajasthan, They live on the border of the Thar Desert.

These people have even sacrificed their life to save the flora and fauna in their region.

Forest and wildlife conservation has long been a standing tenet of their religion.

Their basic philosophy says that living things whether they by humans or animals, have a right to survive and thrive sharing all resources that are available to them.

Discriminating against traditional use of forest land has no scientific basis.
Another failure of management that keeps local people out was seen in the Great Himalyan National Park, it has areas of alpine meadows, where nomadic shepherds used to take their flock of sheeps and graze them, but after the national park was formed this grazing of sheep was stopped by the authorities.
The grazing of sheep used to keep the growth of the grass in check and without it the grass just grows too tall and falls over which also makes fresh growth of grass difficult. 

Pushing local people out to manage forest areas/protected areas has proved to be inefficient and unscientific, this practice fails in the long run. 

Only local people should not be accused of the damage caused to forests, we cannot ignore deforestation caused by industrial needs or by large scale infrastructural government projects like dam building, highways etc.
The damage caused by building arrangements for tourists and the damage tourists cause should also be taken into account.

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