Beyond doubt, loss of forest cover has exacerbated the effects of climate change, opening the door to flash floods and soil erosion. These and other consequences are well documented and have negative impact on local economies and disruptions of food supply patterns on a wider scale.
In this context, afforestation programmes are important. The government has recently taken up various Centrally Sponsored Schemes such as National Mission for a Green India (GIM), one of the eight Missions outlined under the National Action Plan on Climate Change. As per the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, it aims at protecting, restoring and enhancing forest cover and responding to climate change by undertaking plantation activities in the forest and non- forest areas.
The Chief Secretary, at a high-level meeting held on January 24, stressed on involvement of Panchayats in all afforestation works. Meeting the demands of the forest dependent communities for water, fodder and non-timber forest produce should be the main objective of all afforestation works, he rightly underlined. This will ensure that they become willing partners in protection and conservation of forests.
The meeting was informed Under “Green Jammu and Kashmir Drive”, a record number of plants are being planted with the people’s participation under the campaign “Har Gaon Hariyali”. In the current year, against the target of 1.35 crore, the concerned department is making all efforts to plant 1.50 crore, of which about 0.90 crore plants have already been planted, according to the official statement.
During the current year, the government target rehabilitation of degraded forests of 15000 ha area. The concerned functionaries said that 8108 ha with planting of 59.70 Lakh plants have already been covered. Winter planting in temperate zones is in progress and targets for the year are likely to be achieved in full, the officials informed the meeting.
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.
While government efforts towards increasing the green cover are welcome, 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. Humanity must launch a multi-pronged offensive to beat climate change. Failures not only threaten the survival of many species, and reduce the ability of forests to provide essential services, the climate change is likely to be pronounced and will spare none.