Important Forest Conservation Movements From India you must know!

The Indian history has seen various forest conservation movements that led the government to change the decision and protect the forest areas. Here's more about it.

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India is a land of rich biodiversity and the citizens have always made sure to protect it through needed laws, initiatives, protests, and important movements that have shaped the decisions of the government. On the occasion of Van Mahotsav, we are looking back at some of these movements that have taken place in India to protect forests.

Chipko Movement (1973)

Image Courtesy: Indian Media Studies 

One of the most popular and influential movements in India, Chipko movement was led by Sundarlal Bahuguna in 1973, to protect the trees on the Himalayan slopes from getting razed. Bahuguna had taught the villagers of the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand the importance of trees in the environment after which the women of the village tied the sacred thread around the trunks of trees and they hugged the trees to protect. As the villagers demanded that the benefits of the forests must go to the locals only, especially the right to fodder, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna, the then Chief Minister of Uttarakhand directed for a committee to look after the issue, and later, the decision came in the favour of the locals.

Bishnoi Movement (1700)

Image Courtesy: India Narrative

Going back in history takes us to another important movement called, the 'Bishnoi Movement'. It was about the 1700s that the king of the Khejarl of Marwar region in Rajasthan was building a new palace for his soldiers. However, the villagers, who followed the Bishnoi faith could not bear it as according to the community's principles, they are against harming trees and animals. A villager, namely, Amrita Devi then hugged the trees and encouraged others to do the same which was followed by the participation of 363 Bishnoi villagers getting killed in this movement. However, as the king came to know of the situation, he visited the village and apologised. He also ordered the soldiers to stop the operations. Since then till date, the Bishnoi state has been designated a protected area that forbids any harm to trees and animals.

Save Silent Valley Movement (1978)

Image Courtesy: Conservation India 

Another significant movement took place in the Silent Valley, a tropical forest in the Palakkad district of Kerala, to protect it from being damaged by a hydroelectric project. It dates back to 1973 when the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) proposed a hydroelectric dam across the Kunthipuzha River, which runs through Silent Valley. Many locals saw this as a threat to 8.3 sq km of untouched moist evergreen forest. Led by the poet-activist Sugathakumari, the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP) played an important role in opposing the project. In January 1981, due to pressure from local NGOs and the public, Indira Gandhi declared that Silent Valley would be protected. In November 1983, the Silent Valley Hydroelectric Project was officially called off. Two years later, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi inaugurated the Silent Valley National Park.

Appiko Movement (1983)

Image Courtesy: A Branch in the Works

In the Uttara Kannada and Shimoga districts of Karnataka, locals feared the falling down of trees and the commercialisation of the natural forest that might ruin the ancient livelihood. Pandurang Hegde helped the villagers to start the movement in 1983 where the locals embraced the trees which were supposed to be cut down by forest department contractors. Along with that, the locals even hosted foot marches in the interior of the forest and had slide shows, folk dances, and street plays while also promoting afforestation. The government had to stop the project later owing to the protests by the locals.

Jungle Bachao Andholan (1982)

Image Courtesy: ClearIAS

1982 saw a great revolution in the Singhbhum district of Bihar. As the government decided to replace the natural sal forest Teak, the villagers protested, and the villagers opposed it. Led by the tribals of Singhbhum, the villagers demanded the decision to be withdrawn. The move also turned out to be called, 'Greed Game Political Populism' by the people. The impact of the protest was such that it even spread to Jharkhand and Orissa.

forest conservation movements important forest movements