Shimla: The State Forest Minster Rakesh Pathania has emphasised on ensuring active participation of local people in important and ambitious works and plans, like forest ecosystem management and livelihood improvement.  

Rakesh Pathania, in a discussion with the officials and other staff at the headquarters of the “Project for Improvement of Himachal Pradesh Forest Ecosystems Management and Livelihoods” at Potters Hill, Shimla, said the equal and active participation of women is a must while moving forward towards increasing green cover and sustainable development of the state.

The Rs 800-crore project has been funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). It is being implemented as part of Indo-Japan cooperation.   

Appreciating the efforts of the project management initiated so far, the Forest Minister said he would visit the project areas and take stock of the activities there. He exhorted the staff to accelerate the pace of project implementation. He said that the target was to increase the green cover of the state from the current 27.2 per cent to 30 per cent by 2030, adding that this project would contribute significantly in achieving this goal.

The Forest Minister said that 61 nurseries of the Forest Department had been strengthened with the support of this project. Due to this, the capacity of the nurseries of the department had increased by 3.5 million plants. He said that saplings would be planted on 1631 hectares of land during this financial year. He further said that in view of the livelihood improvement of the forest dependent communities, they will be allowed to cultivate medicinal and aromatic plants on forest land in addition to the private land.

Turning to the goals and objectives of the project, Rakesh Pathania said that the emphasis will be on sustainable forest ecosystem management and augmentation, biodiversity conservation, livelihood improvement support and institutional capacity building and strengthening under the project.