The Punjab forest department has created three posts of divisional forest officer (DFOs) for extension education services, tasked mainly with educating the masses about the value of forests and sharing policy initiatives.
The principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) for Punjab, MP Rai, shared the information with HT over phone: “In Punjab, we feel there is a desperate need to take our activities to the public at large to check depletion of forests. I feel no hesitation in admitting that at present our department does not have any fast mechanism to share our policies at a mass level. The DFOs (extension) will plug these gaps.”
According to the 2011 biennial report of the Forest Survey of India, the state had 3.5% forest cover and 3.37% tree cover, which added up to 6.87%. According to the latest, 2013 FSI report, the forest cover is now 3.52% and the tree cover 2.98% — total thus down to 6.5%. Appointments of the new DFOs are being touted as part of the state government’s plan to increase this to 15% by 2020.
For now, these DFOs would be posted at Bathinda, Patiala and at Phillaur in Jalandhar, and would oversee extension work in divisions under their jurisdiction. “To start with, the DFOs have been assigned divisions. They will conduct seminars in schools and with farmers, and educate them about the forests and their importance. Their job would also be carrying forward our research programmes, including development of new plants,” said Rai.
The posts have been filled — Daljeet Singh at Bathinda, Charanjeet Singh at Phillaur and Jugraaj Singh Rathore at Patiala.