J&K tribal communities act as forest guardians, climate warriors

Srinagar: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha recently spoke about  the crucial role of tribal communities in protecting forests, sustaining biodiversity, mitigating climate change, and promoting growth and food security in Jammu and Kashmir.

LG Sinha highlighted the unique understanding of the tribal community towards the environment, which has enabled them to serve as guardians of forests, ensuring their preservation and safeguarding biodiversity.

“The tribal communities in Jammu and Kashmir have acted as custodians of forests for generations, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to protect the environment,” said LG Sinha. “Their role as climate warriors cannot be understated, as they contribute significantly to climate change mitigation efforts.”

An observer while talking to Precious Kashmir said, “One of the most noteworthy contributions of tribal communities in Jammu and Kashmir is their active participation in afforestation campaigns. Through their knowledge of indigenous tree species and sustainable farming practices, tribes have played a major role in forest restoration initiatives, successfully combating deforestation and land degradation.”

He said, “By protecting forests, tribal communities also contribute to the growth and food security of the region,” he explained. “Forests provide valuable resources such as fruits, nuts, medicinal herbs, and timber, which are vital for both sustenance and economic activities in these communities.”

Pertinently, tribal communities often engage in sustainable agricultural practices that minimize the use of chemical inputs and protect soil health. Their traditional methods of farming, such as terracing, crop rotation, and intercropping, have proven effective in maintaining soil fertility and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“We must work towards creating a conducive environment where the tribal communities can thrive, while preserving their rich ecological knowledge,” the observer added.

According to the officials, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has taken several steps, including the establishment of community-based forest management committees, which involve tribal representatives in decision-making processes related to forest protection and management. “Steps are being taken to ensure equitable distribution of forest resources among tribal communities. By granting ownership rights and forest management responsibilities to these communities, the administration aims to foster a sense of ownership and cooperation in conserving forests,” the official said, adding, “Members of the tribal communities are being provided access to education, healthcare, and skill development. Empowering them with tools and knowledge, including the promotion of sustainable livelihoods, is contributing towards their overall well-being and encouraging continued stewardship of natural resources.”

“By recognizing and supporting the efforts of the members of the tribal communities, the region can honor its long-standing dedication to nature and pave the way for a more resilient and sustainable future,” said an observer.

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