The State Government is making concerted efforts to increase green cover of the state to maintain the ecological balance and conservation of environment. To achieve this, a massive plantation is being done across the state, and in last four years 48000 hectare of land has been brought under green cover by spending Rs. 635-61 crore further aiming to cover 15000 hectare additional area by spending Rs.162.5 crore for this year.

Rs.1.33 crore medicinal plants were planted in the same period and 35 lakh such plants would be planted this year. Emphasis is being given on plantation of broader leave, wild fruit bearing and medicinal plants enabling the farming community to get cattle feed, fuel wood ete. Wild fruits and medicinal forest wealth is also a source of self-employment to the rural youth resulted in a reasonable improvement in their economy.

The State Government is implementing various forest projects including Rs. 630.37 crore Mid Himalayan Watershed Development, Rs. 227 crore Swan River Integreted Watershed Management, Rs. 10 crore Forest Management and Capacity Development in Training Sector, Rs. 310 crore H.P. Forest Eco System Climate Proofing, Rs. 800 crore HP Forest Eco system Management and Livelihood and Rs. 665 crore Forest Eco system Climate Proofing Projects which have given new dimension to the forest sector in the State.

As per India State of Forest Report-2015 of Indian Forest Survey Institute Dehradun, state has achieved an increase of 13 sq. kilometer forest area which manifests efficient forest management of the State Government. The people are getting direct benefits out of afforestation works. Himachal Pradesh has become the first State in Asia to get carbon credit and first installment of Rs. 1.93 crore has been received in lieu of carbon credit.

To enhance the survival percentage of plants, the maintenance period of saplings is increased from 3 years to 5 years and under Catplan, the period is increased from 5 years to 7 years. Besides this, R.C.C.Fencing has been promoted to protect the planted saplings and to stop the deforestation for this purpose. To save the state from the ‘lantana’ disease, 3689 hectare of land has been made lantana-free with an amount of Rs. 13.99 crore and a target has been set to re-establish 743 hectare of land by spending an outlay of Rs. 13.99 crore.

Forest clearance had been a hindrance in construction of roads and other developmental works. For undertaking various developmental works, the State Government has been authourised to resolve the land transfer cases upto one hectare. As many as 362 cases were sanctioned under Forest Conservation Act, 1980 while 563 cases under Forest Right Act, 2006 during last four and half years and developmental works were given a new dimension.

TD policy was revised as per the expectations and needs of the people and its notification was a major decision of the State Government. Now the people are eligible to easily get seven cubic meter timber once in fifteen years for the construction of new house whereas 3 cubic meter in five years for carrying out renovation of old house.

The State Government brought the 775 villages out of sanctuary area benefitting about one lakh people and the decision resulted in a rapid development of these villages.

Great Himalayan National Park Shamshi in Kullu district was given heritage status by UNESCO in the year 2014 which was a matter of pride for the State. This park has now received the world attention and tourism is getting added attraction. Similarly the notification of revised eco-tourism policy in the year 2016 was another big step to boost natural tourism in the state.

State Government is giving thrust upon the conservation of forest wealth and enhancing green cover in the state so as to minimise the impact of climate change. People of the State have been urged to come forward in supplementing the efforts of the State Government in afforestation drive.

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Rahul Bhandari is Editor of TheNewsHimachal and has been part of the digital world for last 15 years.