1. Central Board of Forestry (1950):
The starting point of the new approach was the constitution of Central Board of Forestry (CBF) to guide the government in the formulation of various policies and programmes. This body became the supreme advisory body for the revision of the old forest policy. The meeting and recommendations of the Central Board resulted in the pronouncement of a new National Forest Policy on May 12, 1952.
2. National Forest Policy 1952:
The preamble of the National Forest Policy 1952 spelt out six supreme needs for the formulation of the policy. Balanced and complementary land use;
i. Checking denudation in the mountainous regions, erosion along big rivers and invasion of the sea-land’s on the coastal tracts;
ii. Balanced physical and climatic conditions;
iii. Supply of progressively increasing demands of grazing, firewood, small wood for agricultural implements;
iv. Timber and other forest products for the requirements of defence, communication and the industry; and
v. Maximisation of annual revenue in perpetuity consistent with the fulfillment of the six vital needs.
3. National Forest Policy, 1988:
The inadequacies and shortcomings of the 1952 policy coupled with the realisation that it had been unable to address the multifarious issues of independent India on a long team basis called for a revision in the existing forest policy. Indications of the necessity of a new approach were already coming.
The Estimates Committee (1968-69) of the Fourth Lok Sabha in its 76th report expressed the opinion that a reappraisal of the National Forest Policy (1952) should be made by an abhor body of experts in the light of experience gained during the years of development plans and the research and technologies advance made in the fields of forestry.
Subsequently The National Commission on Agriculture (1976) advocated that there were two important points on which the National Forest Policy should rest:
i. Meeting the requirement of industrial wood for forest-based industries, defense, communications and other public purpose as well as fuel wood and fodder for the rural community; and
ii. Meeting the present and future demands for protective and re-creative functions of forests.
The Commission thus sought to adopt a middle path between utilisation and preservation of forest wealth. It recommended:
1. A change of strategy from a more conservation oriented forestry to a more dynamic programme of production forestry;
2. The future production programme was to concentrate on clear felling of valuable mixed forests, mixed quality forest and inaccessible hardwood forests and planting these areas with suitable fast growing species yielding higher returns per unit area; and
3. People’s demands (mainly villagers and tribals) had to be accommodated in order to save forests. This it suggested was to be achieved through social forestry on village and private lands or on growing trees on lands accessible to village people.
The next -development was the passage of the Forest Conservation Act 1980. This act was a departure from the existing utilitarian forest policy as it aimed at conservation. For the first time, an act especially aimed at conservation was enacted in independent India.
The basic objective of the act was to limit the power of the state governments to de-reserve forests or divert forestlands for non- forest purposes. Under the provisions of the Act, prior approval of the central government was required for diversion of forestlands for non-forest purposes.
This act was amended in 1988 and some new provisions were added. In the meanwhile N.D. Tiwari Committee was constituted in February, 1980 to examine the adequacy of the existing administrative, legal and institutional arrangements for protecting environment.
The committee noted that the commercial interests and the needs of the poor for essential fuel and fodder contributed to the denudation of fdrests and regulation. It thus recommended the inclusion of fuel and fodder supply in the Minimum Needs Programme.
Two years later in 1982 a Forest ministers meeting were called. Two themes were retreated at the meeting conservation for environmental and ecological needs and for preservation of wild life and genetic resources and development for rehabilitation of forests and wildlife, for enlarging the resource base through afforestation and social and farm forestry programmes.
A meeting of the central board of Forestry held in 1987 was presided by prime minister and attended by chief ministers of different states. It was declared that:
i. Forest lands would be used for preserving soil and Water systems and not for generating state incomes;
ii. All supplies to the market and industry would be met from farm forestry;
iii. Small and marginal farmers would be especially encouraged to use their degraded lands for meeting commercial requirements.
The new forest was policy announced in December 1988 which was a marked departure from the 1952 National Forest Policy. Henceforth, forests were not to be exploited for industrial and other commercial purposes but were meant to conserve soil and environment and meet the subsistence requirements of the local people. The main features of the 1988 policy are:
i. Maintenance of environmental stability through preservation and restoration of ecological balance;
ii. Conservation of natural heritage by preserving the natural forests and protecting the vast genetic resources for the benefit of the posterity;
iii. Meeting the basic needs of the people, especially fuel wood, fodder and small timber for the rural and tribal people;
iv. Maintaining the intrinsic relationship between forests and the tribal and other poor people living in and around forests by protecting their customary rights and concessions in the forests.