Himachal Government finally seems to be waking up to the need for protecting the forest wealth and enviornment in the state. Alarmed at the rate the forests are vanishing the government has started new schemes to increase the green cover and involve people’s participation to create self employement opportunities in the state.
As per a communication from a government spokesman, realising that forests help preserve the fragile environment of the Himalayas the government has launched multiple schemes to involve people in preservation and conservation of forests.
Under ‘Sanjha Van-Sanjivani Van’ 525 Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCS) have been constituted. These Committees are planting one crore herbal plants on 2,500 hectares. Once these plants will be ready 75 percent of the income generated will go to the JFMCS while the remaining 25 per cent will be given to the panchayat.
Under the ‘Jan-Jan Sanjivani Abhiyan’ the government distributed more than 15 lakh herbal plants to more than 12 lakh rural and urban families in 2008. The State Medicinal Plant Board has signed a MoU with Patanjali Yog Peeth, Haridwar for marketing of the medicinal plants.
Besides these schemes the government has also started the ‘Apna Van-Apna Dhan’ and Pipal-Bargad plantation schemes.
In ‘Apna Van-Apna Dhan’ scheme, people are being encouraged to grow trees on their private and barren land. The forest department is distributing four lakh plants free of cost to the public.
‘Pipal-Bargad Plantation’ drive has also been started in some identified villages which is a part of the awareness generation campaign regarding the importance of Pipal and Bargad trees by involving the village communities.
In order to conserve water resources in forests the government plans to initiate ‘Van Sarovar’ scheme which would be executed under NREGA. Water harvesting structures will be built to conserve soil and water. This would also help in preventing forest fires.
For stopping of smuggling and illicit felling of trees the government is setting up ‘Van Thanas’ to deal with organized crime. 6 such thanas have already been set up and 10 more will be functional shortly.
Out of the 45,000 species of plants found in the country as many as 3,295 species are found in Himachal. The state is the largest supplier of Chilgoza, Kuth, Dioscoria, Dhoop, Picrorrhiza, Valeriana and Ephedera in the country.
The total geographical area of Himachal is 55,673 sq kms, out of which 66.5% (37,033 sq. km) is classified as forests. The total economic value of the forests of the State has been estimated at Rs. 1.5 lakh crore.