According to the Commissioner Secretary, Department of Forest, Ecology and Environment, degraded forests on over 3.5 lakh hectares of land would be restored in the coming five to six years by the administration.
While reminding one and all of the global environmental challenges as highlighted by the 6th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report and the need for paradigm shift and greater participation for meeting the global challenge, he said that the present decade would be dedicated towards environmental restoration, according to official statement.
Besides him, the top civil officer, the Chief Secretary of J&K, called for prompt disposal of forest related cases and directed the department to present a strategy and action plan for quick restoration of degraded forests of the J&K. Bio-fencing of wetlands and constitution of eco-clubs was also called for by the Chief Secretary. The statements are welcome and hopefully measures would be taken with promptitude as forest degradation is a serious issue which as per experts occurs when forest ecosystems lose capacity to provide important goods and services to people and nature.
The degradation and loss of forests threatens the survival of many species, and reduces the ability of forests to provide essential services.
The 15th century saint and poet Sheikh ul Alam famously remarked: “Ann poshi teli yeli wan poshi”, meaning “food is subservient to forests.” Simply put, the food will last as long as forests last.
Jammu and Kashmir has been known for its greenery all over the world. People have been for ages depending on forests for timber and other services for construction and nourishing herbs besides other numerous benefits.
The effects of degradation of forests are already visible due to accelerated soil erosion, flash floods, silting up of reservoirs, loss of biodiversity and reduced forest productivity.
There is no denying that natural resources for industrial and allied sector growth are important but the administration and the concerned people should consider the ecosystem services that the forests provide to J&K. There is a need to evaluate whether such large-scale diversion and conversions of forest land will be beneficial in the long-run or ruin the ecological fragile place beyond repairs. There seems to be a lack of appreciation of the unseen benefits of forests but the already existing impact is for everyone to perceive. There has been serious impact to biodiversity, food, water, energy security, and public health due to depleting forests and it needs to be considered by one and all. Efforts should be to save and protect the forests.