Custodian, Ecologically, Forest, Land, Natural Vegetation, Owner, Reserved
Forests, Tribunal Vested Forests

An Act to provide for the vesting in the Government of ecologically fragile lands in the
State of Kerala and for the management of such lands with a view to maintaining
ecological balance and conserving the bio-diversity.
Preamble.-WHEREAS the earth’s biological resources with their intrinsic ecological,
genetic, economic, social, cultural, scientific, educational, recreational and aesthetic
values are global assets and public trust vital to the sustained economic and social
development, maintenance of ecological balance and the very existence of humanity;
AND WHEREAS the fundamental requirement for the conservation of biological
diversity is the insitu conservation of ecosystems and natural habitats and the
maintenance and recovery of viable populations of species in their natural surroundings;
AND WHEREAS the tropical forests in the western ghats, which has been declared a
bio-diversity hot-spot by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural
Resources, are very rich repositories of bio-diversity extremely susceptible to rapid
irreversible degradation;
AND WHEREAS it has become inevitable to conserve effectively the ecologically
fragile lands, minimizing the reduction or degradation of these ecosystems and biological
diversity therein, which evolved through millions of years;
AND WHEREAS it is considered necessary to manage such lands in an integrated and
uniform manner within their ecological boundaries in accordance with the management
plans based on sound scientific principles.
BE it enacted in the Fifty-fourth year of the Republic of India as follows:-
1. Short title and commencement.- (1) This Act may be called the Kerala Forest
(Vesting and Management of Ecologically Fragile Lands) Act, 2003
(2) It shall be deemed to have come into force on the 2 nd day of June 2000.
2. Definitions.- In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,-
(a) “custodian” means the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of the State or any
other officer not below the rank of a Conservator of Forests appointed by the
Government, by notification in the Gazette, to exercise the powers and perform the
functions of the custodian under this Act; (b) “ecologically fragile lands” means,-
(i) any forest land or any portion thereof held by any person and lying contiguous
to or encircled by a reserved forest or a vested forest or any other forest land owned by
the Government and predominantly supporting natural vegetation, and
(ii) any land declared to be an ecologically fragile land by the Government by
notification in the Gazette under section 4;
(c) “forest” means any land principally covered with naturally grown trees and under
growth and includes any forest statutorily recognized and declared as reserved forest,
protected forest or otherwise, but does not include any land which is used principally for
the cultivation of crops of long duration such as tea, coffee, rubber, pepper, cardamom,
coconut, arecanut or cashew or any other sites of residential buildings and surroundings
essential for the convenient use of such buildings;
(d) “land” includes rivers, streams and its origin and other water bodies;
(e) “natural vegetation” means a growing stock predominantly of a plant species or
of a number of plant species occurring naturally on the land;
(f) “owner” in relation to an ecologically fragile land includes a mortgagee, lessee or
any other person having the right of possession and enjoyment of the ecologically fragile
(g) “prescribed” means prescribed by rules made under this Act;
(h) “reserved forests” means the forests reserved under section 19 of the Kerala
Forest Act, 1961 (4 of 1962) and includes forests notified under section 4 of the said Act;
(i) “tribunal” means a tribunal constituted under section 9 of this Act;
(j) “vested forests” means any forest vested in Government under section 3 of the
Kerala Private Forests(Vesting and Assignment) Act, 1971 (26 of 1971)
3. Ecologically fragile land to vest in Government.- (1) Notwithstanding anything
contained in any other law for the time being in force, or in any judgement, decree or
order of any court or tribunal or in any custom, contract or other documents, with effect
from the date of commencement of this Act, the ownership and possession of all
ecologically fragile lands held by any person or any other form of right over them, shall
stand transferred to and vested in the Government free from all encumbrances and the
right, title and interest of the owner or any other person thereon shall stand extinguished
form the said date.

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