The National Forest Commission was set up in 2003, under the Chairmanship of Justice B.N. Kirpal and was given the following terms of reference:
o Review and assess the existing policy and legal framework and their impact in a holistic manner from the ecological, scientific, economic, social and cultural viewpoint.
o Examine the current status of forest administration and forestry institutions both at all-India and state-levels to meet the emerging needs of the civil society
o Make recommendations indicating policy options for achieving sustainable forest and wildlife management and development, biodiversity conservation and ecological security.
o Suggest ways and means make forest administration more effective with a view to helping achieve the above policy options.
o Establish meaningful partnership and interface between forestry management and local communities including tribal.
The Commission had these objectives:
Long-term betterment of forests and wildlife in India
Safeguarding the interest of forest dependent communities
Maintaining the national commitment for ecological security of the country as mandated in the National Forest Policy of 1988.
The Commission’s Report (submitted in 2006), examined the current status of forests and reviewed the forest policy, legal framework, institutions and administrative structure of the forestry sector. It also considered the goals and constraints of the forestry sector’s approach to forests, wildlife and nature conservation, farm and agro-forestry, center-state relations as well as forest and local communities.
The Report also examined forest related international instruments, forestry research, the relation between forestry and industry, forests and local communities in depth. The Commission made 360 recommendations covering all the aspects of its terms of reference. It is not clear what follow-up actions were taken on the basis of the Report.