Studies done by the World Bank suggest that local communities are best equipped to safeguard valuable forests, and communities endowed with strong land rights are the most effective. Indigenous communities play a crucial role in protecting the critical ecosystems that are gradually degrading in the Nilgiris.
In 2006, the Forest Rights Act was enacted, on behalf of protecting both forests and those who dwell in them. Although it is was enacted with the hope of being a big step by the government to undo historical injustices committed against the indigenous and forest dwelling communities, the implementation has been disappointing.
It has been noted that much emphasis is given to few provisions of the act rather than the whole act and claiming the right is a complex process and lot of evidence is often demanded by the officials. These procedures are difficult for the communities to handle and assistance is often needed. Keystone realised that it’s important to assess to what extent the communities have understood the law, and if they have – how we can help them access the right envisaged under the law, providing support through trainings involve all stakeholders and give them power through the Forest Rights Act to improve their lives.