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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Another step towards afforestation

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In view of reducing pressure on forests, the central government has already launched a number of novel schemes and Social Forestry is one of them. In fact, the rural people living nearby forests have a traditional practice of collecting firewood and fodder besides seeds, fruits, flower buds etc. Through social forestry, villagers are being helped a lot to remain away from forests, but it is felt that the pressure is still mounting on.In view of reducing pressure from forests the government has come up with an elaborate plan and that is about the development of Fringe Forests. The fringe forests are to be developed on one million hectares of land including the non-forest land adjoining villages with an allocation of Rs. 1,600 crore. It is hoped that the scheme may boost up water-conservation and biodiversity conservation efforts continued across the country. This new afforestation scheme is to be launched under funding by the Japanese International co-operation ((JIC) in view of taking care of the fuel and fodder needs of the villagers who otherwise create pressure on forests.

According to the National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA) which has been formed under the Central Ministry of Agriculture, the afforestation scheme would enable villagers to create renewable resources in fringe forests and in adjoining non-forest land. The implementing authority has been decided to be the Ministry of Agriculture and the NRAA. The expert committee is due to prepare a project paper within three months to submit the same to the Japanese agency. Decisions has also been taken to harmonize two acts namely the scheduled Tribes and Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act and the Forest Conservation Act in view of protection of forests from further exploitation.

It is planned to involve the Joint Forest Management Committees working in different Rainfed areas of the country for the implementation of the scheme. The Joint Forest Management Areas in the country include parts of Rajasthan, Gujrat, northern part of Kurukshetra, and some areas of Chhattisgarh. As per reports about 1.7 lakh villages are located within 2 to 3 km radius of 32 million hectares in fringe forests and adjoining non-forest land.

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