Most of the tribal population in the State resides near and around forest areas, particularly in Thane, Nashik, Dhule, Nandurbar, Jalgaon, Pune, Nanded, Amravati, Gadchiroli and Chandrapur Districts. The total forest area in the State is 63,867 sq. kms. which is about 21 percent of the total geographical area of the State. Out of this 31,277 square km. of forest area, i.e. 49 percent is in the Tribal Sub Plan area of the State. Forestry works, therefore, play an important role in the socio-economic development of the tribals. The forestry works mainly consist of harvesting of major and minor forest produce, afforestation and plantation, wild life and nature conservation, forest protection, etc. The tribal economy is therefore, sustained mainly on the forest produce available in the forest and also due to the employment provided by the Forest Department, Forest Labourers' co-operative societies, Maharashtra State Co-operative Tribal Development Corporation, Forest Development Corporation, etc. Thus, tribals earn wages by working on different forestry schemes. The tribals also improve their skill and earning capacity through the training courses in logging, etc., organised by the Forest Department.
Earlier, the tribals due to their illiteracy and ignorance were exploited by unscrupulous forest contractors. The State Government with the intention to free tribals from exploitation, promulgated different Acts such as, The Maharashtra Sale of Trees by Occupants belonging to Scheduled Tribes (Regulation) Act, 1969; the Maharashtra Tribals Economic Condition (Improvement) Act, 1976 and the Nationalization of Tendu and Apta leaves under the former Act of 1969. Under the Maharashtra sale of trees Act,1969 the Forest Department demarcates the land of the occupants with the help of the local talathi and draws up a detailed marking list of the trees to be sold, showing the necessary details such as, species, estimated yield, etc. The matured marked trees are filled, converted, transported and sold departmentally. The occupant is paid the sale proceeds after deducting the expenses incurred on harvesting, sales, etc., Under the Act of 1976, lending by private agencies and marketing of certain agricultural and minor forest produce in the Tribal Sub Plan area by any other agencies except those notified by State Government from time to time are prohibited. The Maharashtra State Co-operative Tribal Development Corporation is the major administrative organisation entrusted with the task of implementing the Act of 1976.