According to Vandana Shiva, the people’s struggle against commercial forest policy has come to light in the region of UttaraKannada. The destruction of tropical natural forests has caused irreversible changes in the ecosystem of the forests. The destruction of mixed species denied people’s access to biomass for fodder, fertilizer, etc.
The clear felling of natural forests has led to severe soil erosion and drying up of perennial water resources. Moved by the destruction of essential ecological processes, the youth of Salkani village in Sirsi launched a Chipko movement, which was locally known as “Appiko Chaluvali”. They embraced the trees which were to be felled by contractors of the forest department.
The protest within the forest continued for 38 days and finally the felling orders were withdrawn. The success of this agitation spread to other places and the movement has now been launched in eight areas covering the entire Sirsi forest division in Uttara Kannada and Shimoga districts.
The Appiko Movement, a movement similar to the Chipko Movement, was launched in September 1983 by the representatives of a Yuvak Mandali to save the Western Ghats in Southwest India. It was observed by the representatives of the Yuvak Mandali that in areas, which were easily accessible, there was an excessive concentration of trees reserved for felling, and there was also excessive damage to other trees during such course of felling.
In a one-hectare plot sampled, it was found that 11 trees had been marked for cutting, out of which 8 were fallen. In the process of felling these eight trees, as many as five trees had been damaged. This rapacious destruction of forest resources was undermining the ecological survival of local communities, who finally stopped felling, through non-violent direct action, as seen in the case of Chipko.
The objective of the Appiko Movement is three-fold—to protect the existing forest cover, to regenerate trees in denuded lands and, last but not least, to utilize forest wealth with due consideration to conservation. All these objectives are implemented through ideally established Parisara Samrakshna Kendras (environmental conservation centers).
The Appiko Movement has created awareness among villagers throughout the Western Ghats about the ecological destruction of forest wealth. People now closely monitor the exploitation of forests by the forest department and have been able to show the discrepancy between professed and actual practice of forest management.
The regions rainforests have been undermined by logging for the plywood and paper industry, conversion of forest to monoculture plantations and the construction of large hydro-electric dams for power generation. This has also resulted in the destruction of livelihood of forest dwellers.
The Appiko Movement forced the government to change its forest policy. Some specific changes include ban on clear felling, no further issuing of concessions to logging companies, and moratorium on felling of green trees in the tropical rainforest of the Western Ghats.