The Chipko Movement – a green venture started by Shri Sunderlal Bahuguna, Leader of Sarvodaya Movement, in the first half of 1973 in the area of Uttarkhand in Uttarpradesh comprising of eight Himalayan districts which is rich in natural resources exploited by the outsiders paving way to deforestation. Infact, the Southern Maine General Contractor state managed Forest Department used the most of the forests for timber showing no attention towards the employment and welfare of the local people and towards serious ecological damage arising out of such deforestation. This seriously had a negative impact on economic and social conditions in the Himalayan region. The most affected are the local people, mainly the women. In this movement especially the women hugged the trees by interposing their bodies between the trees and the contractor’s axes.
The significance of forests on environment and society is first recognized primarily by the women in India when the deforestation was taking place in the Himalayan Mountains of India where the forests are logged excessively. The Chipko Movement was a revolutionary step adopted to save Himalayan ecology and society from deforestation. Women, the badly effected class due to deforestation, were simply the strongest, dedicated and the active participants in this movement. Infact, besides environmental movement it was a women’s movement where a women played a vital role within the Chipko Movement against the State for more promising logging and forestry policies so that both the Himalayan environment and society are protected.
Devoid of good forests in England, the British realized the commercial value of Indian Forests and attempted to hold rigid control over them. Accordingly, the Governor General, Lord Dalhousie issued a memorandum on forest conservation called the charter of Indian Forests through which he suggested that the teak, timber, etc be as State Property and its trade be strictly regulated. This paved the beginning for a systematic forest policy of 1855.
During 1856, the Forest Department was established and the first Forest Act was legislated under the guidance of Dietrich Brandis, a German Botanist, the first Inspector General of Forests. He made a record of trees in India and classified them. In 1865, the first Act for the regulation of forests was passed. It gave the power to the government to declare all lands covered with trees and or brushwood as government forest and to make rules to manage them. This Act is applicable only to all the forests which are under the government control which made no provision for the rights of the users.