Re-evaluating the Chipko (Forest Protection) movement in India
This paper aims to re-evaluate the Chipko movement (1973-1981), a forest protection movement in the Uttarakhand hill region in northern India, which became widely known throughout the world through its image of local people hugging trees. Although the Chipko movement became famous as a good example of the “environmentalism of the poor” in the 1980s, it began to be criticised after the 1990s as the movement ended in failure due to the fact that the local people’s “true” desire to develop the local economy by using the forest’s resources was denied by the movement’s achievement of a total ban on commercial logging. Moreover, some scholars have stressed that the prohibition of commercial deforestation was not the outcome of the Chipko movement, but rather the consequence of the victory of the Department of Environment over the Ministry of Agriculture at the Centre. Against these previous studies, this paper argues that the Chipko movement did played a role in transforming the forest management systems, and the movement was also significant for the formation of a new network of social activists.
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