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J&K Forest Deptt organizes consultation meet on “Forests for Livelihood”

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Jammu: As part of the Government’s outreach programme to generate livelihood for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the J&K Forest Department organized a one-day consultation meeting-cum-discussion on ‘Forests for Livelihood’.

The event was inaugurated by the Chief Secretary, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta in presence of Sanjeev Verma, Commissioner/Secretary Forest Ecology and Environment Department.

The event focused on consultation with stakeholders for undertaking diverse activities for the creation of forest-based livelihood in Jammu and Kashmir; and was kicked off by an exhibition of forest-derived handicrafts, forest produce, and display technologies for processing of forest produce by various institutes of repute, followed by two technical sessions and a panel discussion.

In his address, the Chief Secretary highlighted the key role of  Forests in sustaining the economy; supporting the livelihood of millions of people living around forests, and ecosystem services provided by forests, especially in a hilly region like J&K. Lauding the efforts of the Government to enhance green cover of Jammu and Kashmir by launching ‘Green Jammu & Kashmir Drive’ and ‘One beat guard, One Village Programme’ which have a great potential to enhance the livelihood of the communities through their active involvement; the  Chief secretary also noted that greening of J&K is being carried out in all Village Panchyats under ‘Har Gaon Haryali’ campaign with the involvement of PRIs and Biodiversity Management Committees.

For the preservation of green cover, the Chief Secretary urged the Social Forestry Department to take the mission of ‘Har Gaon Haryali’, green villages, a step further to ‘Har Ghar Haryali’, green homes, in an attempt to encourage households to plant trees. He also suggested launching a movement on the lines of Har Nagar Ek Upvan, a green space for every town.

The Chief Secretary also appreciated the generation of livelihood by the Forest Department through its ‘Eco-trek routes’. He also encouraged the members of SHGs, NGOs as well as the Forest Officers to actively work towards finding innovative solutions to engage a greater number of people in livelihood generation activities and conservation of forest resources.

He informed that there are 572 unique medicinal plants in J&K and called for formulating a detailed plan for each one of the plants. He directed the Commissioner Secretary and the PCCF Dr Mohit Gera to spearhead the work in this regard and prepare a detailed plan for the cultivation, promotion, and marketing of these plants.

Suggesting more initiatives, the Chief Secretary directed the department to ideate on addressing fodder shortage in the region through forests. He called for making use of technology and afforestation activities to stabilize unstable mountain slopes and prevent landslides to prevent routine loss to the economy.

To address immediate environmental concerns, the Chief Secretary called upon the stakeholders to look for ingenious and innovative solutions instead of cost extensive engineering solutions alone for ecological projects. He also highlighted the evils of plastic waste and invited all to wage war against it. He also asked experts to find ways to generate income from plastic waste.

Similarly, wetlands were also told to be cleaned and rejuvenated. Healthy wetlands can generate a number of livelihood avenues, underlined the Chief Secretary.

Coming hard on encroachment of forest lands, the Chief Secretary said that such activities would not be tolerated and all the guilty would be evicted by law. Forests are for the people and not for individual encroachers.

The Chief Secretary also interacted with various stakeholders including the Forest Department, ICFRE, HFRI, IIT Mandi, IIT Rourkee, TRIFED, Rural Livelihood Mission, National, and State Medicinal Plant Boards, various NGOs and Self Help Groups.

On the occasion, Dr. Mehta also released a brochure on “Pine Needles to Bio-Briquettes” compiled by the Forest Department.

Speaking on the occasion, the Commissioner, Forests Department, Sanjeev Verma informed that the creation of livelihoods is being enhanced through various ways of afforestation, sustainable utilization of NTFP in convergence with the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj. He also informed about the benefits of sustainable management of Forests towards meeting the SDGs, India’s Nationally Determined Contribution, and Biodiversity Conservation.

Those present at the occasion include Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Dr. Mohit Gera; Addl. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Executive Officer, CAMPA, Sarvesh Rai among other senior officers from various departments and heads of various premier research and educational institutions of the country.

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