The chapter characterizes forest as a resource and describes its centrality for the supply of a huge range of eco-services to human society. It classifies forests according to density and quality and forest types depending on the forest product-mix. It also discusses the causes and the extent of deforestation and forest degradation in India. The chapter further discusses the issues of forest management for forest resource conservation giving a historical view since the British colonial days and pointing out how the Joint Forest Management emerged as a consequence of long struggle of the local forest people for ascertaining their rights against the legal position of the state both in the colonial and the post colonial period. It concludes the discussion by outlining the National Forest Policy for the conservation as well as the relaxation of the ecological constraints and better sharing of the benefits of the forest ecosystem among people
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