Also, it is very difficult for 8,500 forest guards to protect the state’s 61,000 square kilometres of forest. It became clear that if we roped in locals to help protect the forests, a lot more could be done.What steps have been taken to involve the locals in the conservation process?
We are working on implementing existing schemes in many villages. Residents in more than 2,000 villages across Maharashtra have now been given forest rights and are helping in the conservation effort while also supplementing their income through eco-friendly means. A total of 1,800 vacant forest guard positions have also been filled over the past 18 months, most of them with youngsters from local villages.What has been the outcome of the above initiatives?
One of the greatest indicators of the positive impact of the various initiatives is that the numbers of tigers have gone up in the state from 169 in 2010 to 210 currently.
Also, people have begun to treat the forest department as its friend and not somebody who is just there to harass people.