Roles and Functions of the Forest Department in India – India has diverse fauna due to diverse landscapes. Every living being has evolved as per the requirements needed during these times. India has almost one-fourth of its land under forest cover and aims to achieve the long-term goal of having one-third of the total land area as forest cover. Forest is not only just home to animals, birds, reptiles, insects, and forest dwellers but it is also an essential factor in social, cultural, economic, and industrial development. It is very necessary for maintaining ecological balance.
It has multiple benefits for its different users and if not managed it can create conflicts. How forests are maintained and for what purposes, how choices concerning their usage are made, who participates in them, and what steps are taken to enforce forest laws and policies locally are all aspects of forest governance. State Forest is under the direct supervision of the government. It covers 94 percent of the total forest area in India. These forests are also wildlife-critical areas necessary for their conservation and entry for any human is prohibited for any activity.
Definition of a Forest in India?
The area occupied by the government for conservation and management of biological and ecological resources is called a forest. The state where the forest is located has to take necessary steps for the protection and improvement of the environment and for safely guarding the forest and wildlife. For better administration, Each forest in the state is divided into various territories with a person in charge. The forest in India is divided into territories that are
- State Forest: Principal Chief Conservator of forest – Head of Forest Force: PCCF (HOFF) is the topmost authority in this territory.
- CIrcle: Each State forest is further divided into the circle. The head of this territory is the Regional Chief Conservator of Forest (RCCCFs)
- Division: Conservators of forest (CCFs) have control over this territory. Each circle is further divided into various divisions.
- Range: Forest Range Officer is the top authority within his Range. The division of a forest is further broken into different ranges.
- Section: Each Range consists of small sections within it. A forester posted in the section is the topmost authority.
- Beat: Each section of a forest further is cut out into small beats. The forest guards are responsible for guarding their beat.
Fig: Division of forest in India
Roles and Responsibilities of forest department in India
For perfect governance, the forest department officers are put in a hierarchy with chains of command and assigned roles and duties The forest administration of India is:
- The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change is the apex body to make laws and policies related to the forest in India. These policies are directed toward each state.
- The state is the topmost authority for making the forest policies and instructing the forest officials and providing and making necessary arrangements for its implementation. They must ensure the safeguard of the forest and wildlife.
For ease of administration, forests are divided into various parts with a post accountable for any activity. There may be differences in the structure of the Forest department in different states. However, there are different levels of hierarchy with a proper chain of commands, roles, and responsibilities. Various posts and organizations are part of the state forest department and their roles and responsibilities are
Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (At the National level)
- The Minister of Forest is the head and is assisted by the Principal Secretary (Forest & wildlife) who is the point of contact between the state and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
- Responsible for planning, promotion, coordination, and overseeing the implementation of the various environmental and forestry policies and programs with the following objectives
- Conservation and survey of flora, fauna, forests, and wildlife, prevention, and control of pollution,
- Afforestation and regeneration of degraded areas and protection of the environment
State forest department
Planning, implementing, and monitoring programs in the forestry sector at the state level through circles, divisions, and ranges. Each person under the State forest department at different levels of hierarchy has assigned roles and responsibilities. The roles and responsibilities of forest officers are –
1. Principal Chief Conservator of forest
- State government issues orders specifying duties to the Principal Chief Conservator of forest for efficient administration.
- All Principal Chief Conservators of forest report to the government directly on issues keeping the Principal Chief Conservator of forest – Head of Forest Force (HOFF) apprised.
- The orders allocating duties and responsibilities to the officers posted within its administrative control are issued concerning PCCF.
1.1 Principal Chief Conservator of forest – Head of Forest Force: PCCF (HOFF) ( Top at the state level)
- Advisor between State government and forest department.
- Head of the department and overall in charge of administrative, planning, looking at financial matters, and evaluation of various projects
- Responsible for overall coordination among other Principal Chief Conservators of forest (PCCFs)
1.2 Principal Chief Conservator of Forest & Chief Wildlife Warden: (PCCF & CWW)
- Discharge of duties and responsibilities assigned under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972
- Management of wildlife under Wildlife protection Act 1972
- Supervision and management of all wildlife sanctuaries, National Parks, Biological parks, and Zoos.
- Promotion of Eco-tourism activities in the state
- Liaising with the Wildlife Institute of India and other related institutions working for wildlife conservation and research.
- Formulation and implementation of Wildlife conservation projects and promotion of research in wildlife in the state.
1.3. Principal Chief Conservator of forest – Forest Managemen (FM), Working Plan(WP)
- Preparation and implementation of the working plan in the state.
- Forest settlement and updating of entries of forest land in revenue record
- Notification of forest as a reserve or protected area.
- Management of Tendu Patta in the state
- Promotion of medicinal plants in the state.
- Formulation and implementation of soil conservation schemes.
2. Additional Principal Chief Conservator of forest –
- In charge of all service matters and other officers’ establishment including court cases
- Monitoring cases under Forest Conservation Act besides acting as Nodal officer to GOI
- In charge of the preparation of the budget, Five-year Plans, Plan schemes, controller of expenditure, and Public Accounts Committee
- Monitors protection of forests and wildlife, intelligence and crime records besides monitors the functions of all Forest Protection Squads in the State
- In charge of Social Forestry Programmes and forestry extension activities
- Assists Chief Wildlife Warden in all wildlife matters
- In charge of preparation and revision of working plans
3. Chief Executive Officer (CAMPA)
- In charge of compensatory afforestation projects and management of funds received thereon.
4. Regional Chief Conservator of Forest ( Top authority at Circle Level forest in the state)
- Senior-most department officer posted as regional headquarters.
- Inspect every division systematically, every plantation, and nursery at least twice and visit divisional and range offices as many as possible. The points during these tours that need his attention are:
- Surveys or settlements made or in progress
- The working plan already made or in progress, their cost extent to which they still need further planning
- Forest boundaries, their nature, and state of repair, demarcation, or work are still needed.
- Executive and protective staff efficiency, state of the discipline, and attendance at headquarters
- Protection of forest by every mean road, building construction in existence or under construction, their cost of repair
- Methods of working and management of forest force.
- Overseeing the progress of preparation and revision of working plans of all divisions.
- Financial management and monitors each
RCCF writes a self-contained note dealing with policy management and the progress of the division visited. This note is primarily for the information of the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of forest (Development).
5. Conservator of forest (Top authority at the Division level of forest in the state)
Assist as a senior-most colleague in his Chief Conservator of Forest. They will be directly under his administrative control. Some duties are
- Chairman of all forest development agencies in the district
- Nodal officer for joint forest
6. Forest Range Officer (Top authority at the Range level of forest in the state)
- Functions carry out interested to him under the Indian forest act and wildlife protection act
- Responsible for all revenue and expenditure within his range all payments of salary and wages of labor must as far as possible we make personally by him responsible to see labor is not implied for longer than required to check and control all works within his range
- To ensure that funds received by the state are used in the most economical and efficient way
- To realize himself or through his subordinates all forest department dues promptly on the due date
- Responsible for the safe custody of the government cash and its remittance into the treasury
- To protect check and consolidate all returns and register to prepare monthly range accounts and submit them to the division forest officer
- Any misuse to prevent any misuse of authority by subordinates
- Personally deal with people for compensation or any other needs
- Detects & investigates compounding of forest offenses
7. Forester (Top authority at Section level of forest in the state)
- Officials of the rank of a forester or nakedar
- Head Guard may be posted as the charge of a section
- Protect his section from damages
- Familiar with the boundaries of the forest, with various routes, track footpath roads nalas fireline and see if there has been any kind of encroachment
- Inspect the work of the forest guard in a section
- familiar with the mile with the names of trees and the common flora and fauna of his beat and recognize them
- Maintain a daily diary to record or inspection events of the day
- after government buildings and all stocks required
- prevent injury to the forest by fire grazing or illegal mining
- To recover the compensation in forest offense cases
8. Forest Guards (Top authority Beat level of forest in the state)
- Duties of forest guards fully acquainted with his beat the boundaries route names of the common trees and shrubs growing in his beat
- protect the forest from harm from humans animals and fire
- Fully acquainted with the rights privileges and concessions granted by the forest department in his beat
- Prevent commission of the forest offenses
- To prevent cattle from greasing in the core area
- To ensure entry inside the National park to only those who have proper permits or authority
- Forest foundry out planting trending cultural operations entrusted to him
- Report about encroachment to the range officer
- Duties of the driver responsible to ensure safe transportation of officers clients and tourists assigned to him and assisting them on entry and exit from the vehicle during their time in national parks
- responsible for maintenance and a keep of the vehicle assigned to him for driving
- Follow all rules while driving inside the national park and the forest area
- Keep vehicle ready including refilling of fuel tanks and planning proper routes
- Assist passengers in handling luggage and large packages
- Parking the vehicle at a safe place or any designated garage or parking lot
10. Forest guides
- The role of forest guides majorly for tourism purposes in national parks of India or reserve forests they are company the tourist on Safari Jeep vehicles along with Safari drivers.
- Must be acquainted with the knowledge about local flora and fauna and explain and interpret to the tourist
- Assist in tracking of wildlife along with the safari vehicle driver
Types of forest
The forest officials support the governance of the forest in India. The different types of forests are:
These forests cover more than half of the total forest area and are reserve forests in India. Mainly for the conservation of forest and wildlife resources the government reserve this forest any kind of human activities like grazing of cattle cutting of trees or hunting are strictly banned. The state has the authority to allow these activities under special cases.
Cover more than a quarter area of the total forest area comes under protected forest. The Indian Forest Act gives the State Government the authority to designate any land as a protected forest. It should be noted that these forests are not under the jurisdiction of the state government. A reserved forest can be a protected forest, but a protected forest cannot be a reserved forest.
The government has the authority to make rules and restrict forest use in these forests. However, when these rules are broken, many practices are permitted in these forests. Aside from that, the state has the authority to reserve certain tree species in these forests. These powers are provided so that the state can control the trees whose timber, fruits, and non-wood products have the potential to generate revenue.
State Government can give the rights to any village group, which the Government has over any land which has been reserved. Rules for regulating the management of the forest are to be made by the State Government.
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