The Chipko Movement (India)
...for its dedication to the conservation, restoration and ecologically-sound use of India's natural resources.
The forests of India are a critical resource for the subsistence of rural people throughout the country, especially in hill and mountain areas, both because of their direct provision of food, fuel and fodder and because of their role in stabilising soil and water resources. As these forests have been increasingly felled for commerce and industry, Indian villagers have sought to protect their livelihoods through the Gandhian method of satyagraha or non-violence resistance. In the 1970s and 1980s this resistance to the destruction of forests spread throughout India and became organised and known as the Chipko Movement. The first Chipko action took place spontaneously in 1973 and over the next five years spread to many districts of the Himalaya in Uttar Pradesh. The name of the movement came from a word meaning 'embrace': the villagers hugged the trees and thus saved them by putting their bodies in the way of the contractors' axes. The Chipko protests in Uttar Pradesh achieved a major victory in 1980 with a 15-year ban on green felling in the Himalayan forests of that State by order of India's then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. A similar ban was later also implemented in the states Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh. (In 2005, the ban was still in place regarding felling for commercial purposes except for Himachal Pradesh where it had been lifted again in 2004 despite Chipko s protests.) The movement spread to Himachal Pradesh in the north, Karnataka in the south, Rajasthan in the west, Bihar in the east and to the Vindhyans in central India. In addition to the ban in Uttar Pradesh, the movement succeeded in halting clear felling in the Western Ghats and the Vindhyas, as well as generating pressure for a natural resources policy more sensitive to people's needs and environmental factors. The...