Digital Mapping for Inclusive Rights on Forest Land and Resources by PRADAN in Odisha

Securing the rights of forest dwellers on forest land and resources is crucial for their livelihood development as well as for forest protection, conservation and climate benefits. However, for decades, forest-dwelling communities have been struggling to secure their rights on forest land and resources, the absence of which is preventing them from securing the various benefits offered by government schemes in terms of education, healthcare, and agricultural development. Recognising these issues, the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Recognition of Forest Rights Act, 2006, commonly known as the Forest Rights Act (FRA) was passed by the Government of India. This Act enabled the forest dwellers to claim their customary and traditional rights on forest land and resources through Individual Forest Rights (IFR), Community Rights (CR), and Community Forest Resources Rights (CFRR). However, the intricacies involved in the claim-making process posed a major challenge for these marginalized communities. In this context, PRADAN, one of India’s leading NGOs, has been facilitating the forest rights-claiming process in Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. Over the years, PRADAN has achieved a major breakthrough by getting the claims accepted by the government using a digital mapping tool. This Good Practice Note describes how PRADAN is assisting in digital land mapping and documentation to expedite the claim process under the Forest Rights Act-2006 in Rayagada, Odisha, thereby ensuring the digital inclusion of forest dwelling communities (Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes [FDSTs] and other traditional forest dwellers [OTFDs]) in forest areas.