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Protection of Green Gold
Dr.Banarsi Lal 7/21/2019 12:07:08 AM
Nature has bestowed J&K with a varied geographical and ecological richness. It is a unique forestry state and is considered as the great reservoir of biological paradise that makes the landscape elegant and colourful. Jammu and Kashmir state lies in the North West of the country, having total geographical area 222,236 sq.kms and its total population is 1,25,48,926(2011 census).The state contains sub-tropical ,temperate, alpine and cold desert regions with a total forest cover of 20,441 sq.kms. which forms about 19.20 per cent of the total geographical area of the state. Ladakh region receives very less rainfall and is thus devoid of forests contributing about 0.06% to the state forest area. Around 59% of the geographical area of the state is under permanent snow cover, glaciers and cold desert and thus unable to support trees growth. The national level goal in forestry is to cover at least two thirds of the total area in the hilly regions under forests and trees cover. Jammu and Kashmir regions forests account for 47% of the geographical area while Ladakh region is mostly devoid of tree cover. Jammu and Kashmir adopted its own forest policy to maintain adequate forests in various regions of the state in 2011.Jammu and Kashmir is one of the most beautiful tourists' destinations in the world. The state is characterized by scenic beauty, folded mountains, deep gorges, natural waterfalls, alpine pastures, lush green forests, rich wild life, snow clad fields, carpet green turfs, gushing fountains, lofty skying grounds, charming gardens, cool pollution free breeze, shimmering lakes, apple orchards, benevolent people etc. Forests are useful for human livelihood, soil and water conservation, biodiversity, green house gases, flood control etc. Forests were generally vested with the government especially after 1947 but usufruct rights of local communities, ethnic groups and tribes continued to be part of management. Irrespective of ownership, forests were treated as open or community resources of local population in the limited sense of traditional rights.
Around 36.50% of the flora of the country is endemic to this region, which is of great significance. Forests affect nearly every aspect of our life and are very important for the environmental, ecological and economic balance of our society. Forests are rich in biodiversity and are also the important sources for creation of employment and livelihood for large number of people of the state. Forests are also prime source of fresh water for both urban and rural population as they are helpful for the rainfall. It has been observed that the density of the forests is decreasing at an alarming rate and many important species of the plants/trees have extinct and many more species are in endanger. Now-a-days we observe that the illicit trade of forest wood and encroachment of the forest land by the people by which the forests are shrinking day by day. The flora of the prime species of the forests is reducing. In order to safeguard them from biotic interferences strenuous efforts are needed by both the government and non-government agencies. Increasing population, lack of awareness of the people pertaining to forests, hunger for land grabbing, unsystematic developmental activities have taken back lot of valuable genetic resources by the forests. Ecological studies regarding the continuous growth, stability, evolution of the ecosystem and organisms are necessary for healthy environmental management and also to balance the finite resources present on the earth. The available resources should be protected from degradation. Man himself has adversary affected the benefits provided by the forests to the living organisms. Following strategies are needed for the conservation of forests for the safe future:
Endeavors must be made to increase the area under forests and tree cover through implementation of different afforestation programmes/schemes.
According to the National Forest Policy (1998), 66% of the geographical area of the hill states should be brought under forests but the presently our state is well short of this (only around 19%). Roadsides plantation is must to reduce the level of the noise and the air pollution. Biodiversity and wild life conservation and management is supported by central legislations such as biodiversity Act, 2002 and Wild life (Protection) Act, 1972 and Statutory bodies such as State Biodiversity Action Plan by the J&K Govt. through, J&K SFRI vide Govt. The J&K government must be committed to conserve and manage the threatened biodiversity of the state. The management of the existing protected area network must be strengthened to conserve and increase the genetic stock of the species that are specifically endangered. The State Biodiversity Action Plan should be properly implemented. Measures for the ever-increasing dynamics of the human- animal conflict should be contemplated on priority basis, as this is the most challenging aspect in present era.
J&K state is said to be treasure house of many medicinal and aromatic herbs as the hilly areas are the hubs of these plants. There is dire need of conservation of these medicinal and aromatic plants in the state. Close co-ordination is needed with the state agricultural universities and other forest research institute for the intensive research on this issue. Indigenous Technical Knowledge (ITK) practices of medicines must be encouraged and should be properly documented. A forest fire causes irreparable damage to wild life, biodiversity, water resources, forest based livelihoods and well being and changes heaven into hell within very less time. Fire control measures such as creation of fire lines, effective information and communication technologies (ICTs), defined responsibilities and introducing the incentives to the local communities living in the fringes of these forests for participation in the fire management must be developed. Training programmes with regard to fire fighting to government employees, local communities and interested rural youths/persons in order to create more awareness on causes and the control of forest fires must be arranged. The management of natural resources including the water management is of paramount importance in present era forestry system. It will help to check soil erosion and denudation of the catchment areas of the river systems of the state for mitigating the floods, landslides and siltation. Field programmes must be launched to promote protection and the development of the water catchments of the state. Effective measures must be taken for promoting harvesting and conservation of the rain water. Eco-tourism has immense scope in the state as it will help to increase income and employment in the rural areas. Forest areas having the potential of eco-tourism must be established by developing eco-tourism cell in the state. While developing eco-tourism, emphasis must be given on ecological and environmental concerns of the state.
Research improves and develops new knowledge about the effects of different activities. The main thrust should be given on forestry research in the state. Dynamic scientific human resource persons must be recruited who will assist to the process of developing short and long term agenda with special focus on applied forestry research. There must be collaborative research between state forest research institute and Forestry Divisions of state agricultural universities for effective benefits. Extension publications regarding the knowledge of forests should be published for creating the awareness among the general public. The research journals must also be published from the forest research institute and also from the state agricultural universities so that the transfer of research findings and technological skills/know-how must be disseminated to the people. Modern nursery technologies supported by the sound silvicultural practices must be developed to prepare the quality planting material. The state government is making efforts for the conservation of forests but more efforts are needed for shaping the forest policy of the state which may help to encourage the protection, conservation and enrichment of the forests of the state.
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