The state forest department has doubled last year’s sapling plantation efforts with 11 crore saplings in inventory across various nurseries in Maharashtra, officials told HT.
While a four-crore target has been set for 2017 for forest and non-forest areas, the 50-crore projection still stands till the end of 2019. The plantation drive will be held across the state between July 1 and 7, which happens to be the Van Mahotsav or Forest Day, an annual week-long tree planting festival celebrated across the country.
Over the next two weeks the forest department will earmark areas across the state for plantation. “This year, the focus of plantations will be in mega cities such as Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and Nasik to establish a balance between the green cover and infrastructure projects,” said a senior official from the forest department.
Of the 307 lakh hectares of total area in the state, 61.35 lakh hectares, or 20%, comprises forests. The forest department intends to increase the green cover to 33%, which means planting a total of 400 crore trees.
The officer added that this year’s drive is focussed on clean air, water and aesthetically attractive ambience. Saplings will be planted in and around schools, hospitals, municipal parks, gardens, road sides and government buildings across the state.
According to the forest department, there was a 85% survival rate of the 2.14 crore saplings planted across the state last year. These plants were monitored in November last year. However, another survey will be conducted in May before this year’s plantation.
“We have already received applications for four crore plantations in Maharashtra and thus the inventory of 11 crore saplings has been made across various nurseries in the state,” said P Srivastava, additional principal chief conservator of forest, Information and Technology division, adding that a complete database is being prepared for the drive.
“Last year, there were issues with non-forest department people to upload information about their plantations on our website. However, this year with our new website, we will provide a platform where all plantation sites can be uploaded and there will be transparency,” he said.
State’s 2-crore plantation drive lauded by Commonwealth Nations
During a recent conference with forest and wildlife representatives from all Commonwealth Nations, between April 2 and 7 in Uttarakhand’s capital Dehradun, the state forest departments efforts for planting 2.14 crore trees across Maharashtra with a survival rate of 85% was lauded.
“Forest and wildlife officers, experts and scientists unanimously praised the work in Maharashtra and said such efforts have never been carried out in any of the other Commonwealth countries,” said said P Srivastava, additional principal chief conservator of forest, information and technology division. He also shared the plantation drive through a presentation at the conference. “Our work was crosschecked with detail since there was a lot of curiosity and once presented, various countries wished to replicate the efforts.”
Who can participate in the drive?
Corporate sector, private landowners, entrepreneurs, NGOs, educational institutions, paramilitary forces, railways, police, army and government departments
What to keep in mind while planting saplings?
• Choose diverse plants frrom trees to shrubs to climbers to grasses.
Select native plants
• Protection from free grazing, fire and water for the first 2-3 years.
(Source: Manasi Karandikar from Oikos Ecological Services, Pune-based consultancy firm working on ecological management aiding the plantation drive)
List of indigenous species to be planted
Ain, Amba, Badam, Chinch, Gulmohar, Jamun, Karanj, Neem, Peepal, Wad, Bamboo, Anjan, Arjun, Beheda, Bel, Bor, Sitaphal (custard apple), Fanas, Gulvel, Hirda, Kavat, Khair, Kanchan, Naral, Nilgiri, Teak and Cashew
(Source: State forest department)