The Indian Forest Act, 1927 was an act to consolidate the then existing laws relating to forest, the transit of forest products and duties that can be levied on “Forest Product” as defined in Section 2 (iv) (a) and (b) of the act. The act deals with reserved forest, village forest, protected forest, control over forests and lands not being property of government, the duty on timber and other forest produce, regulation transit of forest products, collection of timber, penalties and procedures, cattle – trespass, forest officers and other miscellaneous provisions.
This act does not lay down a specific definition for forests. The act establishes three categories of forests, reserve forest, protected forest and village forest. The reserved forests (section 3 to 27 of the Act of 1927) can be notified by the State Government on any forest land or waste land to which the government has ownership or right. To be categorized as a reserved forest, the land must be forest land or waste land in the absence of which the notification could be quashed. Section 26 of the Indian Forest Act 1927 prohibits a number of activities including making fresh clearings, tree felling, lopping, burning, grazing, quarrying, manufacturing activities, hunting, shooting, etc. in the forest. Violation of provisions of Section 26 specifically with regards to creating fire, felling, girdling, lopping, etc. of trees, quarrying and manufacturing operations or clearing breaking up of any land for cultivation is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to Rs. 20,000 but which shall not be less than Rs. 5,000.
For other offenses under Section 26 an imprisonment for a term which may extend to 6 months or with fine which may extend to Rs. 1,000 or with both and on the second and every subsequent conviction for the same offense, with imprisonment which may extend to 6 months or with fine which may extend to Rs. 2,000 or with both is prescribed. It also provides for adjudication of forest rights, uses by local people as allowed by forest officer, appeals and denotification. Section 25 specifically empowers the forest officer to stop any public or private way or water coarse in reserved forest. The act also provides for issuing notification regarding appointment of forest settlement officer to adjudicate rights and granting permissions for activities and claims.
Section 28 provides for assigning rights of reserved forests or protected forests or any forest belonging to the state government to any village community and provisions relating to reserved forest, protected forest or forest belonging to the government shall apply. Such forests are called village forests.
Section 29 provides for the notification of protected forests. Protected forests are also notified on forest land or waste land. The state government under provision of Section 30 may declare any tree or class of trees in a protected forest to be reserved, it can also declare any portion of a protected forest as closed for a term not exceeding 30 ears during which the rights of private persons shall be suspended provided that alternate rights are available in the remainder of the forest. It can also prohibit specified activities within the area Violation of prohibited activities in protected areas as prescribed in Section 30 and 32 are punishable offences liable to be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years or with a fine which may extend to Rs. 5,000 or with both and on the second and every subsequent conviction for the same offence, with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years and with fine which may extend to Rs. 10,000.
The state government also has the powers to regulate or prohibit activities in any forest or waste land not being the property of the government after providing suitable opportunity to the owner of such forest or land.
Some of the other acts related with forestry and tree plantation are as follows:
- The Forest Conservation Act 1980.
- The Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
- The Environment Protection Act 1986.
- The Biodiversity Protection Act 2003.