Laws, lore and logjams: Critical issues in Indian forest conservation
India’s forests support a rich assemblage of floral and faunal biodiversity and have also been the ancestral habitat of diverse tribal and inidenous communities. However, recent government legislation combined with action by the Indian judiciary aimed to stem the rapid loss of forests and wildlife is undermining rather than contributing to conservation and social justice. The contradictory nature of these interventions is creating new distortions and conflicts by failing to address the root cases of forest degradation. This paper discusses the main obstacles to sustainable and just forest management: Poor procedures and unsound premises for defining and identifying forests; dissonance between tribal and conservation laws; neglect of democratic decentralisation of forest governance.