Maharashtra government plans to formulate a new social forestry policy which will be implemented in non-forest areas of the state to increase green cover.
“In Maharashtra, the forest land is about 19 to 20 per cent, which comes under the Forest Department. The Social Forestry Department has decided to provide green cover to 80 per cent non-forest area and will elicit co-operation from the local self government bodies in this endeavour,” officials in the Social Forestry Department said.
Water Conservation Minister Nitin Raut, who holds the charge of Social Forestry, has appointed a study group headed by former Chief Secretary Arun Bongirwar to formulate the social forestry policy.
“The study group comprises 18 members from revenue, forest, agriculture departments, social forestry, pollution control board and municipal corporations of Pune, Nagpur, Mumbai, private enterprises and environment consultants, including Arun Bongirwar. The first meeting of this committee will be held on November 23,” the officials informed.
The study group will formulate the new policy and include concepts of community forestry, village parks, urban forestry like tree plantations along the roads, ponds and all public spots, green belt by beautification of industrial areas, farm and agro-forestry like tree plantation near farm ponds, road side plantation, tree credit, bamboo plantation, development and marketing among others.
“The idea is to propagate a new theme that wherever there is land, there should be greenery,” officials said.
Tree credit is a new concept, which the study group will advise the government on increasing public participation in social forestry and how the public can get income from the trees planted by them.
The committee has been given time of three months to formulate their report and submit it to the government.
The endeavour is to reduce the burden on reserved and protected forest area and supplement the efforts of the forest department to increase the green cover in the state. There should be at least 33 per cent forest area, but in the state, only about 20 per cent of the area is covered by forests, officials said.
At present, the social forestry department handles 30 nurseries in the state, where saplings are produced and planted.