Report of the 4th national conference of the Forum of forest people and forest workers (NFFPFW): Dehradun, 26-28 May 2012

This article includes the proceedings of the Forum for forest people and forest workers organised at Dehradun

Around 500 delegates from around 19 states and three neighboring countries Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal participated in the 4th National Conference on the Forum of forest people and forest workers organised in Dehradun on 26-28 May 2012. More than 80% delegates were from the forest communities. A summary report of this conference is presented in this article.

The conference centered around five issues
1. Setting the people’s agenda for struggle against neo-liberal regime: collective struggle by the natural resource based traditional working people for protection of livelihood and resources.
2. Strengthening the collective process of production and reproduction of natural resources i.e. forestry, agriculture, fisheries and mining
3. Strategic alliance building with other natural resource based working people’s organizations focusing on vulnerable areas with workers’ movements
4. Self strengthening process of community leadership in the forest rights movement to create an alternative forest governance system under the community leadership.
5. Strengthening of women leadership at all levels in the movement and in the organization from local to national level.

The conference began with a public hearing of depositions mainly from the tiger project and elephant project areas.They testified to the lack of political will to enforce the Forest Rights Act. The hearing clarified that "The forest should be handed over to the forest people”.

The second day was devoted to a discussion of the convener's report which comprised the following:
1. Genesis of forest rights movements in India during and after colonial period.
2. The history of NFFPFW from 1992-1998, the formation of NFFPFW in 1998 in Ranchi and the period from then to present situation.
3. Political situation in the context of NFFPFW movement focusing community leadership and its relations with other sections of the society.
4. Alliance building with other natural resource based working people’s movements.
5. Organizational questions: the role of community leadership, role of middle class activists,strengthening of women and youth leadership.
6. Proposed organizational structural changes. Need to create a federation structure from the Forum structure. Formation of secretariat in place of steering committee, with President, General Sect. and Secretaries.

A decision was made to amend the constitution primarily by forming a federation structure, establishing a secretariat, and electing a chairperson and general secretary. The conference also passed several resolutions:

  • to undertake a comprehensive programme to rejuvenate forests through collective efforts at village level in the coming five years
  • to propose an alternate arrangement with the involvement of forest communities and respective gram Sabha
  • to amend the forest rights act so as to grant community entitlement of land that will enable them to engage in collective/cooperative farming and forestry.
  • To extend solidarity to associated protests such as those against nuclear plants, steel plants, etc.
  • to ensure the constitution of Forest Rights committees in all the villages where the organization is active as per the procedures specified in the FRA, 2006.
  • to strengthen our organization at the level of the village.
  • to evolve an alternative development model based on the rights of the people to natural resources
  • to aim at greater co-ordination between various working people and organizations across South Asian countries

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