Sunday, June 05, 2011

37,000 trees felled in Gujarat every day

37,000 trees felled in Gujarat every day

Nearly 37,000 trees are cut in Gujarat every day!

It is estimated that 1.35 crore trees are felled in Gujarat every year.

The threat of increasing population, urbanisation, industrialisation and road expansion is greatest on social forests in non-forest areas.

Illegal mining, increasing tourism, road construction and expansion, human encroachments and illegal grazing in forest areas are perceived as threats to the Gir forests in Saurashtra.

In central and south Gujarat, unchecked cultivation encroachment by tribals in forest areas in the hope of getting land is a rising concern

Rs 3,505 crore worth of revenue per annum is estimated to be generated from timber alone in Gujarat

State's forest cover is merely 9.66% of the state's total geographical area, much lower than the UNEP requirement of at least a third of the total land mass

As the world celebrates World Environment Day today on the theme, 'Forests: Nature at your service', it is a good time to point out that Gujarat's forest cover is meager and it faces further threat largely from human interventions like encroachments, tree chopping for industries and road expansion, illegal mining, illegal cultivation and grazing. These have put the state's forests under immense pressure.

According to a forest department estimate of 2009, there are approximately 42 crore trees in Gujarat in forest and non-forest areas. But shockingly, 5.6% of the 26.9 crore trees in non-forest areas (approximately 1.35 cr) are felled every year! The rest 15 crore are in forest areas.

While the forest department is aware and concerned about the degradation, it has aptly pointed out that this is a global phenomenon, not local. As increasing human population requires land, the biggest pressure is on forests because trees can be chopped within hours to make land available to man for housing, animal grazing etc.

"Social forests are disappearing. It is only because we have massive plantation drives that the rate of degradation has been arrested, otherwise in no time, the forest cover would disappear. The forest and tree cover has increased in the last ten years, though not as much as we need," says additional principal chief conservator of forests HS Singh.

Gujarat minister of state for forest and environment Mangubhai Patel candidly states that development is a must and it cannot be compromised, but "we are ensuring that forest are not harmed in the process".

Singh adds that the Planning Commission has estimated that revenue of Rs3,505 crore is generated every year from timber alone in Gujarat, which makes forest maintenance a very lucrative economic activity. The national revenue from timber is pegged at a whopping Rs45,000 crore by the Planning Commission. Principal Secretary, environment and forests, Gujarat, SK Nanda says that the state is encouraging farmers to take up timber cultivation.Turn to p5

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