Country Risk Profiles

About India

Most of the natural forests in India are state-owned and managed. Such forests in India are legally recognized through government notifications based on the Indian Forest Act, 1927 (IFA) and the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (WPA). The forests are classified as unclassed, Reserved Forests (as notified under IFA 1927) and Wildlife Sanctuaries or National Parks (notified under WPA, 1972) and, for very sensitive ecosystems, Biosphere Reserves under the Man and Biosphere Programme. Commercial extraction of forest produce is not allowed from Protected Areas (under WPA 1972) and Biosphere Reserves. Since the National Forest Policy, 1988, the government has encouraged Trees Outside Forests mainly in the form of agroforestry plantations on private lands to substitute for the vastly degraded natural forests. The Joint Forest Management Program which was conceived through the National Forest Policy, 1988, and the recently legislated Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (commonly called Forest Rights Act) has encouraged more participation from forest-dependent communities to protect and rejuvenate the degraded natural forests as well as recognize the traditional rights of forest dwellers to the resources from state forests. As per the latest assessment (State of Forest Report 2013 by Forest Survey of India), about 3.3% of the total geographical area of the country (about 3 million hectares) is made up of agroforestry plantations, mostly on private lands. More than 12 million hectares of degraded natural forests have been brought under Joint Forest Management resulting in perceptible improvement in forest protection and forest productivity. To ensure scientific felling operations, the Supreme Court of India has directed (Godavarman vs Union of India, 1996) that no felling operations in government forests will be carried out without scientific management plans (Working Plans) prescribed as per the National Working Plan Code. In the case of plantations on private land, management plans are mandatory. However, as per individual states' harvesting rules, the forest department has specified certain species for which a harvest permit is required to be obtained by FMU owners from the local village administration (panchayat) or local forest officer (Deputy Conservator of Forests). Nationally across India, the transport of forest products from government forests is accompanied by a transit pass, a document that details the origin and destination of the consignment along with the fees paid to the Forest Department. In some cases, for specific species grown on agricultural and privately owned lands, the requirement for a transit pass has been waived (only for movement within a state). In such cases, the receipt of taxes paid to the local Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) is considered a legal document of transit. The Supreme Court as per its above order has also directed wood-based industries involved in saw-milling activities to obtain the relevant license from the Forest Department. The Report of High Level Committee to review various acts administered by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India, published in November, 2014 (http://envfor.nic.in/sites/default/files/press-releases/Final_Report_of_HLC.pdf) has provided a number of recommendations which, if adopted, may influence forest governance in the country as well as affect the findings of the criteria for legality. Some of the relevant recommendations are as follows: i) Define forests in the forest laws as opposed to current Supreme Court interpretation of the definition of forest as per the dictionary meaning ii) Exclude farm forestry and agroforestry plantations from the definition of forests and outside the purview of the Forest Department iii) Transparent and streamlined process of providing clearances for diversion of forest land and enhancing the requirement for Compensatory Afforestation in cases of loss of forestland iv) Harmonization of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, schedule with CITES v) Provide statutory nature of Wildlife Management Plans in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 vi) Delineation and demarcation of eco-sensitive zones with emphasis on using GIS tools vii) Recognition in the relevant laws of cultural traditions linked to forests. During the evaluation of risk, the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) has been used. India has a current score of 41, which places it at a global ranking of 78 out of 180 countries (2018). This is considered to be a relatively low score that warrants caution related to corruption in the forest sector too. In addition, the World Bank (WB) Worldwide Governance Indicators show that India also here scores relatively low. Especially in the control of Corruption indicator, India scores relatively low. It is therefore generally assumed that India is a country with a high level of corruption. Other FSC sources of information listed in the FSC-PRO-60-002a V1-0 EN have only been used where referred to in the risk description directly.VIEW MORE

India has around 70 million hectares of forests, which covers 24% of the country. Around 15.7 million hectares are primary forest, 43 million hectares of otherwise naturally regenerated forest, and around 12 million hectares are planted forest. The total forest area is increasing by around 1 million hectares a year. About 85% of the forest area is publicly owned, and 15% privately owned (FAO, 2015). Most of the public forests are administered by the government, and some of them by communities and indigenous groups. India produced almost 50 million m3 of logs in 2014, of which only a small proportion was exported. The export value of primary timber products exceeded USD 80 million (ITTO, 2015). Illegal logging and trade of high-value timber is a major problem in many parts of the country. In 2009. the Ministry of Environment and Forests estimated that 2 million m3 of logs were illegally felled per year. Several legality risks are present in India, relating to legal rights to harvest, taxes and fees, timber harvesting activities, third parties' rights, and trade and transport. As India is one of the world’s largest importers of wood-based products, it is also a major consumer of illegal timber. The volume of illegal imports has increased, and in 2012 almost 20% of timber imports were estimated to be illegal. There has been limited acknowledgement of the problem within the country, and little response from the government (Chatham House, 2014). Companies sourcing timber from India should take care to ensure the risks identified are not present in their supply chains, or have been sufficiently mitigated. VIEW LESS

Description of source types

Source types describe the possible origins of a commodity from within a country. Knowing the “source type” that timber originates from is useful because different source types can be subject to different applicable legislation and have attributes that affect the risk of non-compliance with the legislation.
Source Type
Government Reserved Forests/ Unclassed Forests
Timber from Government Reserved Forests/ Unclassed Forests (can be natural forests, plantations, degraded areas or barren land), managed solely by the State Forest Department or jointly by the State Forest Department and local communities through Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs). May only be harvested by Forest Department. Forest Working Plans (Forest Management Prescriptions as per the National Working Plan Code for a period of ten years) must be in place, and consignments must be accompanied by a transit pass which details the origin and destination of the consignment.
Private plantations
span style="font-size: 11pt;">Timber from private plantations, including block plantations, agroforestry plantations, farm forestry plantations, industrial plantations, etc. Permits are required from Forest Department or local panchayats (local elected representative bodies) as per harvesting rules for specific species. A harvest permission letter from Forest Department/ local government (panchayat) head is required, but the requirement for a transit pass is optional as per transit rules. In cases where the transit pass requirement is waived, substitute documents such as Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) tax receipts are considered legal documents.

CPI score

39, updated 2024

Armed Conflicts

With continued violence in Kashmir and a heightened threat of terrorist activity by Pakistan-based militant groups, tensions and concerns over a serious military confrontation between nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan remain high (Global Conflict Tracker). According to the Uppsala Conflict Data Program there were 8 598 deaths from 2010-2019.

Voluntary Partnership Agreement

No Data


FSC certified area: 0.131 Mha, updated April 1, 2023

Bans & Restrictions

All CITES-listed species (appendices I, II and III) from natural forests are banned from being exported for commercial purposes. Cultivated species in Appendices I and II are permitted to be exported

Risk Species

Name CITES I CITES II CITES III IUCN Redlist Special attention
No records found


Tree cover loss

Tree cover loss”. Accessed on 01/01/2023 from www.globalforestwatch.org. The graph shows year-by-year tree cover loss, defined as stand level replacement of vegetation greater than 5 meters in the country. Note that “tree cover loss” is not the same as “deforestation” – tree cover loss includes change in both natural and planted forest, and does not need to be human caused. The data from 2011 onward were produced with an updated methodology that may capture additional loss. Comparisons between the original 2001-2010 data and future years should be performed with caution.

Overview of mitigation options organised by source type

Source Type
Number of risks
Document verification
Stakeholder Consultation
Field Verification
Scientific Testing
Government Reserved Forests/ Unclassed Forests
Private plantations
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