Shimla: The rapid economic growth has had a telling effect on the natural resources of the Country. Conservation of forests is one of the foremost priorities of the State Government.

In Himachal Pradesh, 37,948 square kilometer area is a forest area and 15,433.52 square kilometer is a green forest cover of the total forest area. About 16,376 square kilometer of forest area is above treeline, which is covered under snow all through the year.

The Forest Department is making an all-out effort to conserve the forest and is working towards achieving the target of improving green cover by 30 percent by 2030 in the State. To achieve the target, the Department has initiated several schemes to strengthen the participation of people in conservation and development of forests through the plantation. One such scheme in this direction is the State government’s Vidyarthi Van Mitra Yojna, which aims to create awareness by involving school students in the conservation of forest and the environment.

Under Vidyarthi Van Mitra Yojna such schools have been identified that have setup active eco clubs and suitable open or degraded forest areas for plantation of indigenous tree species and can be maintained and protected by students. This would develop a sense of contribution and association among students with plants.

In the year 2018-19, about 228 schools were covered under the scheme in various parts of the State and 166830 saplings were planted in 164.30-hectare area by the students. In the Year 2019-20, approximately 146 schools were covered and 86702 saplings were planted in the 131.5-hectare area by the students, under the scheme.

Bahra University

In Vidyarthi Van Mitra Yojna the students and school administration play a vital role in identifying the site for the plantation of saplings. A micro plan for plantation is also prepared by the school administration and Divisional Forest Officer provides approval in it.  The Department also provides necessary technical information for plantation under the scheme.  The students are not only responsible for the plantation of the trees in the area earmarked for the school but maintain the area on a long-term basis.

The State Government is laying stress not just in creating awareness among students on conservation of forest and wildlife but is also emphasising on conservation of the natural resources of the State for future generation with its effective management. Besides this, the Government is also ensuring the conservation of forests and wildlife for those communities that are dependent on resources generated from forests for livelihood.