Note:  University of Manchester, UK. ([email protected]) The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Delhi
Abstract: Despite the rapid development of REDD+, in terms of policy and on ground, there is little empirical evidence on how REDD+ interacts with existing governance mechanisms and impacts people’s rights. Implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA) in India provides an interesting insight into this interaction. Peoples’ rights over forest resources are being recognized under FRA in a comprehensive manner for the first time in independent India. Although a number of challenges of implementation are yet to be addressed, it has started changing the forest landscape of the country by redefining the relationship between the state and the people with regard to the use and management of forest resources. Close to 1.169 million claims for individual and community rights, covering about 3% of the forest area of the country, have been recognized up to 30 April 2011. People are expected to have much more control over the resources if FRA is implemented in its true spirit. While FRA is being implemented, the Government of India wants to leverage its forest conservation record in international climate change negotiations through REDD+. India considers REDD+ to be a bargaining chip in the negotiations. Civil society groups, however, are strongly contesting this instrument, as they fear REDD+ might provide an opportunity to the government to scuttle implementation of FRA. This contestation or politics of REDD+ is being negotiated and renegotiated continuously, where different stakeholders are guarding their own interests. This case provides some early indications of contestations, which REDD+ is going to evoke at the country level.
Keywords: India, Forests, Forest Rights Act, REDD+