HYDERABAD: Even as the demand for conferment of land rights to tribals and traditional forest dwellers under the Recognition of Forest Rights (RoFR) Act gets shriller each day, a study conducted in Telangana has reported a significant negative impact on forests and their biodiversity in areas where the Act has been implemented.
Further, the study suggests that distribution of land rights in forest areas under the RoFR Act need not be scattered all across the forest, but can be consolidated in one end, to avoid breaking forests into fragments.
As part of the study, researchers analysed the impact of implementing the Act in erstwhile Adilabad district, where around 20,563 sq km of forest lands were distributed.
Using GIS technique, the researchers looked at three interrelated parameters - patch density, edge density and core area index (CAI) - in forest areas where the Act was implemented. It was found that patch density and edge density increased drastically, while the CAI witnessed a drastic decrease after it was implemented in Adilabad.
Increase in patch and edge density indicates that forests in Adilabad became more patchy post-implementation of the Act due to more number of people conducting farming inside the forests. Whereas, decrease in CAI value indicates a fall in the percentage of a forest patch which falls under core area, a consequence of forests getting fragmented.
In simple terms, study indicates that implementation of RoFR Act by granting forest land to claimants wherever they asked for, resulted in human habitations popping up in many locations in between the forests. As a result, there were no large contiguous patches of forest left, which severely impacts quality of forests and movement of animals, thus impacting biodiversity.
Study conducted by TS forest dept
The study, conducted by researchers from the State forest department, was recently published in the journal ‘Current Science’. As part of the study, the researchers analysed the impact of implementing the Act in the erstwhile Adilabad district, where around 20,563 sq km of forest lands were distributed