Trees on Private Land
A regulatory impact analysis in two
states in India.
Importance of trees on private lands
• Growing stock in TOF is 25%
– Recorded forest area
– TOF (potential)
Tale of two states – MP & Haryana
Recorded Forest Area
Growing stock (Forest)
Growting stock (TOF)
Production (Forest) mcm
Potential production (TOF)
Trees of private lands: Nature of
• Forest, deemed forest or Agro-forest ?
• Reserved species whose felling requires permission and
transit requires permits, e.g. teak
• Exempt species whose felling does not require permission
and transit does not require permits, e.g popular
• In between species where transit is regulated.
• Partially decentralized species where permissions /permits
are devolved to the revenue department or gram
• Urban preservation of trees acts which put severe controls
on cutting of trees primarily from an asthetic /
environmental point of view in urban areas.
Context of regulation
• It is hard to ascertain the origin of wood –
whether from farm or public forest.
• The presence of extensive public forests
creates additional pressure to regulate private
• Forest-poor states like Haryana - easier to
• Exotic species like Eucalyptus and Populus are
Context of regulation
• Forest rich states worry about poaching
over a third of the geographical area is recorded forest land
commercially valuable sal and teak forests.
The total growing stock is approximately 50 million m3 and with
a gross value of Rs.2 500 billion or US$55.5 billion.
• Expectations regarding farmer behaviour
– large scale felling on private lands if regulations are relaxed.
• Increasing value of alternate land-uses – e.g. real estate
puts additional pressures in peri-urban areas
Review in a Forest Rich state
diverse types of controls,
multiple points of regulation and
Regulatory burden on farmers
considerable regulatory burden on the
implementing agencies as well
nature of controls
Based on factors such as:
– (distance from the forests).
• Species harvested
– (is it a quintessential forest species?).
– (commercial or domestic).
• environmental or social concerns
– conserving trees near waterbodies, in high sloping areas,
near public paths.
• Condition of trees:
– Dead and dying trees less strictly regulated than green
trees- often perverse incentive
Points of regulation in value chain
1. (permission – at several levels).
1. (marking of harvested trees).
1. (approval of transit permit
2. and charge of royalties and fees if applicable).
1. (checking at check posts).
5. Point of sale
1. (nationalized species /monopoly buyer e.g. teak in MP).
Rules in MP – major revamp around
• Madhya Pradesh Prohibition or Regulation of the cutting of Trees Rules,
– Specify the institutional structure of permitting, location based constraints on
harvesting, harvesting of selected non-timber tree species with local
• Madhya Pradesh Regulation of Felling and Removal of timber in villages
adjoining Government Forests, Rules 2002.
– Establish the institutional structure for permitting harvesting based on use –
sale or self-use, as well as conditions for reducing the regulatory burden.
• Madhya Pradesh Transit (Forest Produce) Rules 2000
– Define the institutional roles of the Forest Department and Gram Panchayats
for regulating the movement of forest produce, especially timber.
• Madhya Pradesh Lok Vaniki Rules 2002
– Provide requirements for managing “tree clad” areas on private lands and
revenue lands and exclusions from general rules.
• objective implementation
– various regulatory bodies involved
– to undertake a number of steps, if they followed
the regulations to the letter.
Steps for objective implementation
Regulatory burden on the regulator too
These steps identified below are from a review of regulation in one state which has good forests, to
highlight the complexity in the system:
Ascertain how the applicant will use the wood.
Cross check ownership of land
Whether the tree is dead or dying.
If dead or dying, was the process assisted or created by human help?
Whether the slope of the land where each tree is located is above a specified level.
The species of each tree and whether it is an exempted species.
Estimate the potential volume.
Whether the volume is above 2 m3, if it is for subsistence use and of non-exempted species.
Whether the tree confers locational benefits near a path, or waterbody, or has other public benefits.
Cross-check the harvested wood with the approved amount.
Hammer mark the wood.
Approve a transit pass.
Cross-check the transit pass en route.
Cross-check the wood if it goes to a sawmill for processing.
Cross-check wood that comes back to the buyer to confirm it is put for domestic use.
Buy the wood at the depot, if it is a monopoly item.
Grade it to determine the potential price.
Sell the wood.
Send net payment to the seller.
If the seller is a tribal, credit the amount to a joint account between the tribal and the district collector
and monitor the use of the money.
• scientific management plan for private
• continuity of forest/ tree cover
• Increased productivity
• Simplified periodic felling as per plan
• Regulatory by-pass for other regulations
• 150000 ha of pvt forests lands
• doubling timber production
Experience of Lok Vaniki
Chartered foresters role reduced
Tree felling permission decentralized from
district collector to tehsildar
Ban on felling under lok Vaniki
Revised draft rule for lok vaniki
600 plus plans in one district (Dewas)
2000 odd ha covered
Slowdown in growth, but hardly any change of landuse
Farmers facing constraints in felling permissions, and new/revised
• Land records and maps not geo-referenced
– Joint survey of Revenue & forest officials
(regulatory scarcity and rationing)
– GPS boundary map in addition to Revenue
boundary may - compatibility issues
• FSC certification of selected Lok Vaniki forests
Current situation in MP
Harvesting of limited volumes for self use with an informational requirement.
Dead and dying trees of few species can be cut with Panchayat permission.
Commercial felling of existing non-exempt trees -fairly elaborate regulatory
The delay in approving harvesting hits farmers hard.
Lok Vaniki is designed to motivate farmers to think of long term forest
management and not one time harvest and conversion of land use.
The primary benefit of Lok Vaniki provides is exemptions from numerous
harvesting regulations. Earlier, high transaction costs of the previous regulations,
In recent years, regular harvesting dencentralized to tehsildar, and complexities of
Lok Vaniki increased, making it less attractive. Downside – less area under long
Burden on regulator
• Regulation implementaion burden on
– high ascertainment costs should they try to
implement regulations objectively.
– rationing, where only a small proportion of
applications are likely approved.
Burden on regulated
• Corollary , regulatory burden for small and large farmers,
significant, especially for any commercial use of healthy
• Direct impact
– transaction cost burden placed on landowners that try to
harvest and sell trees.
length of the approval process,
the uncertainty of approval,
Cost of lawyer or an agent to shepherd the application
Or - the costs of tens of trips to meet officials
• Indirect impact
– Disincentive for protection and nurturing of naturally
regenerated and planted trees on private lands.
• Forest cover
• Tree and forest cover 6.8%
• Punjab Land Preservation Act
– Section 4 (General)
– areas notified for restrictions on tree cutting without
permission – both rural and urban
• Exempt species – 7 on felling of transportation
• For urban areas – no tree preservation act.
• Identification of forests on private lands,
commonlands, and privatised commonlands
Is this a forest ?:
Govt of Haryana yet to make up its mind…..
• International regulations encourage legality
– EU Timber Regulations
– US Lacey Act
• Verification of source is key
• Challenge – to allow tracability without
increasing transaction costs and entry barriers
for small farmers
• Options to Increase ROR
Increase productivity of species
Review regulatory systems and assess implementation burden
Identify forests on community/pvt. Lands – reduce uncertainty
• Georeferenced land record maps
• Tracing of timber – bar codes etc
• Online availability of Transit Permits
Reduce ascertainment costs for regulator
Reduce delays for regulated
Allow env. Safeguards to be retained with lower regulatory costs
Faciliate sharing of eco-system services information, provide basis for