J&K Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) headed by Chief Secretary has in principle given nod to the additional Annual Plan of Operation (APO) for meeting the target of sowing 1.75 Cr saplings besides carrying out demarcation of the boundaries of all the vulnerable forest areas.
There is need to focus on revitalization of the degraded forest areas and ensure that the dense and moderate forest cover of the Jammu and Kashmir increases with time.
Kashmir has been known for its greenery all over the world. People of Jammu and Kashmir have been for ages depending on forests timber for construction besides innumerous useful and nourishing herbs.
However, for a few decades now, lush green forests have faced axe. The deforestation by timber smugglers, some government agencies and even people bordering the forests, keeps on damaging large scale land for construction of private houses, residential colonies, and even some government offices.
The effects of degradation of forests are already visible in drying up of perennial water sources at many places, accelerated soil erosion, flash floods, silting up of reservoirs, loss of biodiversity and reduced forest productivity.
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.
People need to wake up and save the forests. From their ancestors, people of Jammu and Kashmir have inherited a ‘paradise on earth’. The unusual weather being experienced is giving a warning to all, whether ordinary people or those at the helm of affairs.
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 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.
Forests are the best places to de-stress the minds and the concerned department should encourage people to visit these natural habitats and promote eco-tourism.
The peculiarity of the region is its unique ecology and environment, which distinguishes it from other States and UTs, is to be maintained and the concerned Departments have the responsibility to maintain it sustainably.