Kashmir Indepth

Valley loses 65-K kanals of forest land in 6-years by fire

Srinagar, Feb 01 : 
Forest fires appear to be taking a heavy toll on the green gold as over 65,000 kanals of forest land have been destroyed for the last six years.

In absence of boundaries and proper fencing, an official said live stock of the surrounding areas go on a grazing spree in upper reaches of forests resulting in habitat degradation.  

He said that the increase in forest fires happen due to non-demarcation of forest land in Kashmir. “Had the forests been demarcated, less fire incidents would have happened,” the official told.

Official details say that more than 65, 000 kanals of forest area have been destroyed in 1100 wildfire incidents in Kashmir for the last six years.

Figures reveal that highest number of incidents were reported during 2016- 2017, when 371 fire-incidents damaged 30202 kanals of forest land. This was followed by 192 wildfires engulfing 13,699 kanals of land during 2017-2018. 121 forest fires wreaked havoc on 4171 kanals of land during 2015- 2016. The wildfires reported during 2014-2015 are 111 destroying 3984 kanals of land. The most affected areas include the forests of Lidder and Kamraj with the number of wildfires ranging from 227 to 121, respectively.

An official of Forest Department told that half of forests in Kashmir are without demarcation.

“Eight-year-ago, government had decided to demarcate forest land in Kashmir. It was also decided existing boundary pillars will be strengthened but nothing has been done so far,” the official said.

He however said the artificial demarcation of its boundaries was done at few places. “Civilian population is also residing in forest areas including Dachigam National Park, posing a serious threat to its species,” the official said.
An environment panel headed by former legislator MY Tarigami had asked Jammu and Kashmir government to demarcate forest lands to stop encroachments and adopt appropriate mechanisms to check the pollution from brick kilns.

The committee had suggested that the Forest Department must take all necessary steps to demarcate the entire forest land to avoid day-to-day encroachment efforts by unscrupulous elements for their ulterior motives.  
Meanwhile a senior official said government has taken up several preservation measures for forest land.  “Vulnerable areas in forests are being demarcated on priority basis. It requires a large funding for demarcation of entire forest land,” he said. (KNS)

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