Biennial Conference of the International Association of the Commons
This paper was presented at the 13th Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons on January 10-14, 2011 in Hyderabad, India.
The Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA) has been hailed by many as a historic legislation. On economic terms, its main merit lies in its contribution to livelihood security – it provides secure land tenure, recognizes community rights to forests in addition to individual land rights, and attempts at gender equity. Further, under the assumption of as positive relation between tenure security and conservation, the legislation is expected to benefit local and sponsored conservation programs. However, at the same time the FRA poses a significant threat to the extractive “development” path that the country has embarked on. In this paper, I conduct an analysis of FRA implementation across the country to comment on its prospects for forest livelihoods and forest conservation. Further I explore the inherent contradictions between traditional forest livelihoods and a neoliberal economic regime.