Ladies standing around a tree

People’s Movements to protect forests

Enviromental Education For JTET/CTET

There have been a number of environmental movements in India through which people have been protesting for conservation of forests and other natural resources. Here some important People’s Movements have been introduced in brief.

Chipko- movement

This is the success story of Peoples’ movement for the protection of trees that started in 1970s in Garhwal Himalayas.

The movement was led by Sarvodaya workers Chandi Prasad Bhatt and Smt. Sarla Devi of Dashauli Gram Swaraj Sangh (DGSS) and by Smt. Gaura Devi of Mahila Mandal.

Earlier, the Uttarakhand Rajya Sammelan had organised a meeting in which leaders had stressed on exploitation of natural resources from hills and growing problem of unemployment. Sarvodaya workers organized general public meetings and demanded the replacement of contractor system with forest labour co-operatives and setting up of small-scale industries.

In 1973 the govt. amended to sell ash trees of area and allotted cutting of trees to a timber company. The local people took oath of protecting trees even at the cost of their lives by hugging trees against contractors’ men. This is why this movement is called as CHIPKO movement.

Gradually when the movement spread to all the villages of Tehri Garhwal and Kumayun, Sarvodaya workers started a door-to-door campaign. Sarvodaya worker Sundarlal Bahuguna sat on a hunger strike and his wife Vimla started mobilizing ladies to join the movement. Some people call Mr. Sundarlal Bahuguna as the father of Chipko movement.

Silent Valley Movement

The silent valley is located in the Palghat district of Kerala (India).

In 1929 British people had identified the valley as a prospective Dam site. The state govt. of Kerala had decided to launch the silent valley project on the Kandhi Puzha River in view of generating 240 MW of electric power and irrigating 10,000 ha of crop land.

A section of elites felt concerned about the ecological damage to be caused due to the project. A local NGO – Keral Shastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP) deputed a multidisciplinary team to conduct a socio-economic survey which declared that the project if implemented could submerge about 850 ha of virgin tropical evergreen forest, replete with valuable endemic trees and animal species including endangered animals like Nilgiri Tahr, Langur, Macaque, and Malabar Squirrel.

Later, this survey report was also confirmed by Botanical and Zoological Surveys of India. A Nationwide campaign was started by WWF, Bombay Natural History Society and students and scientists of different states.

Lastly, the IUCN General Assembly requested the Kerala govt. to call off the project. In August 1980 a joint committee chaired by Prof. M.G.K. Menon was formed to investigate the extent of ecological damages due to the project. The joint committee submitted its report in December 1982. Following the findings of the report the project was scrapped and in 1983 the valley was declared a National Park.


The famous Chipko Andolan (Hug the Trees Movement) of Uttarakhand in the Himalayas inspired the villagers of the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka Province in southern India to launch a similar movement to save their forests.

In September 1983, men, women and children of Salkani “hugged the trees” in Kalase forest. (The local term for “hugging” in Kannada is appiko.) Appiko Andolan gave birth to a new awareness all over southern India.

The Appiko Movement is trying to save the Western Ghats by spreading its roots all over southern India. The movement’s objectives can be classified into three major areas. First, the Appiko Movement is struggling to save the remaining tropical forests in the Western Ghats. Second, it is making a modest attempt to restore the greenery to denuded areas. Third, it is striving to propagate the idea of rational utilization in order to reduce the pressure on forest resources.

To save, to grow and to use rationally – popularly known in Kannada as Ubsu (“save”), Belesu (“grow”) and Balasu (“rational use”) – is movement’s popular slogan.

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