Beyond land titles, towards resilience: an experience from India through the implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006

Tenurial rights are critical for the Indigenous and forest-dwelling communities, and especially tribal groups of India. The discourse around the ownership, governance and management of forests in India underwent a significant change with the enactment of the Forest Rights Act, 2006. The livelihoods of people living close to and within forests are inextricably linked to the forest ecosystem. This paper demonstrates the learning that emerged through ground-level implementation of the Forest Rights Act, that recognition is only the beginning for building resilience. It also attempts to present the case of adaptation as the best mitigation and the most likely to be successful at the local level. A significant focus of the paper is to advocate that recognition of rights should provide a pathway to a process which is ecologically sustainable, socially just and economically beneficial for communities, and to suggest a way towards achieving convergence with government programmes.

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