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Tamil Nadu has an area of 22877 sq. kms under forests which constitute 17.59% of the geographical area of the State as against 33.33% required under the National Forest Policy, 1988. The variability in climate, topography, soil, water resources, altitude and biotic influences have resulted in formation of different forest communities, commonly known as forest types.
The State has a spectrum of forest vegetation types ranging from wet evergreen forests to moist deciduous, dry deciduous, sholas, grass lands and scrub forests. Invaluable trees like Sandal, Teak and Rosewood and wildlife like tiger, elephant, lion-tailed macaque, grizzled giant squirrel and numerous rare species of fauna and innumerable species of flora including important medicinal plants are found in the forests of the State.
Tamil Nadu, therefore, has adopted a compelling vision to inspire people to protect wilderness, the ecological diversity and species richness. The Tamil Nadu State Forest Act, 1882, The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and a host of rules formulated under these Acts are being implemented by the Forest Department. Adhering to the best scientific principles and incorporating traditional knowledge, new socio-economically and ecologically sound paradigms for managing forests and wildlife have been incorporated in the management strategies adopted by this department.


Union Planning Commission has recommended that the forest area in the country should be increased to 25% of the geographical area by 2007 and to 33.3% by 2012 (which is mandated by National Forest Policy-1988). The forest/tree cover in Tamil Nadu is 17.58%. Earnest efforts are being taken to increase the forest cover / tree cover in the State to 25% of the total land area of the State, by encouraging tree cultivation in and outside reserved forest areas.

Forest Management requires new policies and approaches. The policies should be ecologically sustainable, socially acceptable and economically feasible. The forestry sector is facing new challenges due to the increased role and the sector plays to boost the peasant income, enhances food security and reduces poverty. Pressures on forests have to be stalled, degradation checked, sustainable development promoted through prudent policy actions, which can bring about stronger rural development of forest fringe inhabitants and the tribals. The basic thrust of the proposed Forest Policy of the State for 2006-07 is directed towards environmental conservation, ecological stabilisation, robust development of the local people in and around forest fringe areas. The Joint Forest Management approach (JFM) fosters the positive relationship between the forest department and village communities. The Village Forest Committees (VFCs) protect and manage the forests and in turn share the usufructuary benefits from the forests. The empowerment of village communities as a source of local self governance in planning, management and development of forests has given new directions to the forest resource management in the State.

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