UNESCO is seeking residents’ feedback on the potential declaration’s impact on their lives and livelihoods. Scheduled Tribes were the key stakeholders.
Other traditional forest residents include the Scheduled Castes, Other, Backward Classes, minorities, and the general category. The majority of Karnataka residents claimed they were unaware of the procedure that led to the designation of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Because of their general backwardness, the Forest Rights Act recognises the rights of the Scheduled Tribes. Following the strict enforcement of restrictions in ‘protected zones,’ unlawful tree-felling and poaching have decreased. The majority of forest residents were aware of this reality.
Issues with the Act: Ceiling of four hectares permitted under the Forest Rights The bulk of forest residents claimed land of little more than one acre under the Forestry Regulation Act. Other traditional forest residents were rejected at double the rate of the Scheduled Tribes.
In the case of the Scheduled Tribes, the causes were linked to new encroachments-claimed lands being on paisari bhoomis (wasteland and forest areas that have not been recognised as protected forests or reserved forests) or revenue lands.
People living in the eco-sensitive zone suffer the following issues: People in settlements located in eco-sensitive zones began to face harsh limitations on their access to the forest. Road repair and other development operations have been halted. Normal farming is prohibited, as is the use of fertilisers, and tiny knives are not permitted to be taken into the forest.
People are not allowed to cut down trees that have fallen on their houses in order to restore them or shift the ground. The growing animal rebellion is destroying the crops of the agricultural forest residents. Those who lack recognition over their lands are not compensated for their loss.
Monkeys and snakes released from cities into the wild make their way into their homes. People stated that the government had taken over grazing pastures to compensate for forest land lost to projects.
Many individuals are accepting relocation offers and leaving ‘safe regions’ for good. If half of the village population left, it would be difficult for the remaining residents to continue their usual lives.
Because they lack the ‘Records of Rights, Tenancy, and Crops’ that are necessary along with the title to the property, most forest inhabitants are denied basic services and other government advantages offered under various plans and programmes. Half of Karnataka’s world heritage sites are protected areas (National Park: 1; Wildlife Sanctuaries: 4) while the remainder are reserved forests.
The government must clarify the Act to avoid confrontations between government agencies preserving biodiversity and communities who have lived in the forest for decades or centuries. The protection of biodiversity necessitates particular consideration: forest dwellers who choose to live in the forest must be permitted to do so.
Many of them adhere to the eco-sensitive zone’s standards. Those who wish to reap the benefits of development must be shifted to a new location and an appropriate package. Protected areas should be determined following consultation with the local community.