Forest Protection: Landmark Decisions by the Supreme Court

GS-2 Mains

Short Notes or Revision Notes 


Question : Discuss the significance of forests as a national asset, as emphasized by landmark Supreme Court rulings. How do these rulings contribute to forest protection and conservation in India?

Supreme Court’s View:

  • Forests are a national asset and major contributor to India’s financial wealth.
  • Judgement arose from a case challenging “gifting” forest land to a private person.

Forestry and Financial Wealth:

  • Forests act as a major carbon sink, mitigating climate change.
  • Estimated value of carbon storage: $5 per tonne of CO2 (conservative estimate).
  • India’s forest carbon stock increased from 1995 to 2005 (6,245 mt to 6,662 mt).

Forest Resources in India:

  • Managed by Forest Survey of India (FSI) under MoEF&CC.
  • FSI conducts biennial forest cover mapping and national forest inventory.
  • India has 63 million hectares for potential forest restoration.
  • National Forest Policy (1988) aims for 33% forest & tree cover.
  • Current forest cover: 24.62% (including tree cover).

Importance of Forests:

  • Ecological: clean air, water, soil conservation, biodiversity, climate change mitigation.
  • Social: habitat, livelihood source, watershed protection, timber & non-timber products.
  • Over 1.6 billion people globally depend on forests for basic needs.

Forest Conservation Efforts:

  • National Forest Policy (1988)
  • Indian Forest Act (1927)
  • Forest (Conservation) Act (1980)
  • Wildlife (Protection) Act (1972)


  • Forest resources are crucial for India’s ecology and economy.
  • Supreme Court judgement emphasizes forest protection and conservation policies.


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