Shortage of land hampering govt’s afforestation drive

PTI New Delhi | Updated on December 30, 2012

India is planning to bring millions of hectares of its area under tree cover, but shortage of land is hampering the Government’s ambitious afforestation programmes to achieve the national goal.

The forest and tree cover in India has over the years stabilised at around 23 per cent of geographical area, whereas the National Forest Policy, 1988 lays down the national goal of 33 per cent of forest and tree cover for ensuring ecological security and environmental balance.

“Achieving of this target will require additional 10 per cent of the geographical area of the country to be brought under forest cover which would not be possible without bringing non-forest lands under tree cover,” says an Environment Ministry report.

The report of the Committee constituted to study the regulatory regime regarding felling and transit regulations for tree species grown on private land says that an additional land for afforestation would be difficult to obtain in view of competing land use for agriculture, industrial and infrastructure development, urbanisation and also encroachments and fragmentation.

“Therefore, multiple land use with an important component of tree growth on non-forest lands holds the key for achieving the national goal for forest and tree cover,” it says.

In a bid to achieve its target, the panel suggests that the mandate of agro-forestry department, which is currently with the Agriculture Ministry, should be vested with Environment Ministry.

“Agriculture is a state subject, whereas Forestry is in the concurrent list. Agro forestry is with the Ministry of Agriculture as per the rules of business,” it says.

“The mandate of agro-forestry should vest with Environment Ministry which as the nodal ministry must work with agriculture and other concerned ministries and departments in formulating enabling policies for continuous growth of this important sector,” says the report.

It came at a time when the Government is pushing initiatives like Green India Mission (GIM) and National Afforestation Programme (NAP) to add two million hectares of forest and tree cover annually in the country.

Published on December 30, 2012

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