Itanagar:  Setting an example, the Arunachal Pradesh Environment and Forest Department has achieved 70 per cent afforestation in the state at a time when forest areas are decreasing alarmingly in the country.

The afforestation programme was undertaken under the State Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority in 2010 in the areas where trees were cut by user-agencies for various purposes.

A Supreme Court judgement recently directed that there should be compensatory afforestation by the user-agency which should set apart a sum  of money for the purpose.

The judgement also directed that the state concerned would have to make available land on which afforestation could take place.

“The fund resources for CAMPA are generated from the user-agencies who are proposing various developmental activities and against which they are applying for forest clearance,” Diganta Gogoi, deputy conservator of forest (CAMPA & WP), said.

The state with a total 83,743 sq km geographical area has more than 5,000 species of flowering plants, 600 species of orchids, 89 species of bamboos, 18 species of canes, 400 species of ferns, 24 species of gymnosperms and equally high number of unexplored algae, fungi, lichens, bryophytes and micro-organism.

Moreover, it is home to more than 100 species of mammals, 650 birds, 83 reptiles, 130 fishes and seven non-human primates and innumerable species of insects, mirco-organisms and other life forms.

No wonder Arunachal Pradesh with its rich bio-diversity has been listed as one of the 18 “biodiversity hotspots” in the world.

Arunachal Pradesh has a total 51,540 square kilometres  under forest cover out of which 10,089.99 square kilometres fall under reserve forests.

Gogoi pointed out that as per the directive of the state CAMPA, compensatory afforestation was the primary target and the fund was obtained particularly for protection and preservation of forests.

“As per the apex court guidelines, we are getting 10 per cent of the deposited amount annually. We will get more fund only if we plead the court for enhancement,” Gogoi said.

He said that generally local species are taken up for plantation as indigenous species were more successful.

“If the state Forest Act is introduced, which is in the pipeline, with incorporation of traditional laws as suggested by various NGOs, there will be changes in the act and rules while implementing various schemes,” he said.

Free Press Journal