Compensatory Afforestation in Odisha, India: A political ecology of forest restoration
The Forest Landscape Restoration approach calls for a rights-based approach to forest restoration. One which also contributes to the social and economic well-being of forest communities. However, in practice, large-scale state led restoration projects might ignore the interests and expertise of local communities, leading to conflicts between the goals of local communities and restoration projects. This thesis examines a restoration policy of the Indian government, ‘compensatory afforestation’ to understand the processes surrounding its implementation and to study local responses to the policy in the state of Odisha. The policy makes it mandatory for public and private agencies which acquire forest land for commercial purposes to deposit funds to raise a forest plantation at another site.
Research goals & methods
The author asks the following questions: (i) how does restoration through compensatory afforestation in the state of Odisha interact with national processes calling for the democratization of forest governance, (ii) how does the policy impact the livelihoods and rights of forest-dwellers in the state, and (iii) how have forest-dwellers and civil society organizations responded to state-led restoration? The author collected geospatial data to understand the extend of plantations at the study sites and she collected ethnographic data to understand the impacts of these plantations on livelihoods and rights.
Conclusions & takeaways
The author finds that compensatory afforestation in Odisha does not reflect the national-level push for the democratization of forest governance, and it has had negative impacts on the livelihoods and tenure security of forest-dweller communities. Current interventions are state-led, focus on raising plantations rather than forest restoration, and tend to exclude communities from decision-making. This leads to conflict between the communities and the state since plantations are often on ‘podu’ patches or areas of shifting cultivation.
Valencia, L. (2019). Compensatory Afforestation in Odisha, India: A political ecology of forest restoration. MA Thesis, Graduate Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto.
- University of Toronto