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finland: tribal forest rights now law in india

India is home to the world’s largest Indigenous population, with approximately 90 million people belonging to tribal groups collectively referred to as the Adivasi.


Delhi parliament area Forest Bill demoHowever, the environmental laws inherited by India from the British Crown historically excluded the Adivasi from the forests.  In December 2006, as a result of the Adivasi’s long struggle, the Indian Parliament passed the Tribal Forest Rights Act, which officially recognises and promises to correct "historical injustice" done to Adivasi forest communities.

However, a long delay ensued before the act was notified into force. It was the subject of much controversy in Indian Parliament, as well as mass public protests calling for its notification.

Under an initiative of Friends of the Earth Finland, the FoE International Forest and Biodiversity Program, the World Rainforest Movement and 13 other environmental organisations, an appeal was made to Indian Government to notify the new Act into force, to formally enshrine the rights of India's Indigenous Adivasi forest communities under law.

In India, a major daily newspaper published a long article on our appeal, while India's Tribal Minister also made positive comments about it in a published media interview.

Finally, in December 2007, Indian Parliament notified the Act into force.  With this move, India launched the implementation of Indigenous communities' rights to protect and sustainably use the forests where they live. This is a significant step for India’s 90 million indigenous people, most of whom live in forests.

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