The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006, commonly called FRA, is a landmark legislation in the history of independent India. It recognizes the multiple historical injustices imposed on forest-dwellers in India, in particular the non-recognition of their customary rights to use and manage forests for their livelihoods. To undo this injustice, among other provisions, the FRA recognizes community rights to use and manage forests themselves, commonly called Community Forest Resource (CFR) rights. The recognition of CFR rights, has been far from satisfactory. One of the biggest problem in implementation of CFR provisions is that policy makers and the public have no idea of the target—the extent of CFR rights need to be recognized. Nor an easy way of prioritizing areas where CFR rights recognition or claim-making should be taken up.
This geoportal is designed to make available maps of “CFR potential areas”, i.e., where and approximately how much area might be claimed by forest-dwellers in central India, starting with the states of Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. For comparison, it also presents, where possible, information on “CFR potential realized”, i.e., which villages have received CFR rights, of what kind, and over how much area. In the process, we also hope that this will make people more familiar with the forested landscape of central India in terms of the location of settlements, composition of villages, and land-use data available.
By developing and making publicly available the village-wise maps of CFR potential, however approximate they might be, ensures that policy makers, civil society groups and the wider public become aware graphically of the extent of CFR potential and its location across an entire state, the gap between the potential and CFR claims actually granted, and the regions in which attention needs to be focused. We hope that this will help officials and other people working on CFR rights.