Pricing Nature

There is a long history of putting a price on parts of nature. The centuries-old corporate rush for prized timber and land has led to the loss of forests on a large scale and the violation of communities’ rights. So-called "ecosystem services," such as the role that forests play in ecosystems, are a new way of monetizing and trading in nature. The result is greater dispossession of forest-dependent communities and ongoing corporate destruction of community territories.

The ‘conservation’ model in India continues to enclose forests and evict communities in a deliberate attempt to undermine and scuttle the Forest Rights Act (FRA) - a landmark legislation that strengthens the authority of communities over their forests. Meanwhile, companies are allowed to destroy forests, even inside the conservation areas.

Funds from the Compensatory Afforestation scheme have been allocated for Covid-19 relief measures. The scheme has funded plantations that invade community land and has led to illegal evictions where “Protected Areas” have been declared. This has not stopped during the lockdown.

A long cycle of state repression in India now sees new amendments to the colonial Indian Forest Act which would not only make forest bureaucracy more powerful than ever, but would also de facto put an end to the landmark Forest Rights Act.

India’s programme to compensate for the destruction of forests for development projects is routinely setting up monoculture tree plantations on community commons. Women, who are mostly affected, are at the centre of its resistance.