Jammu: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha Tuesday called for making the reforestation campaign a mass movement but added that with more than 55 percent green cover, Jammu and Kashmir was ahead of many other states and union territories.
An official spokesman in a statement issued here said that attending the International Day of Forests event organised by the Department of Forest, Ecology, and Environment here, the LG called upon the people for sustainable management of forests and the judicious use of resources to combat climate change and to ensure well-being of all.
“Healthy forests are the key to healthy living of people and it should be our topmost priority to safeguard these precious natural resources. Every element produced by nature nourishes us. Since time immemorial, the health and well-being of humans, animals, and environment around us are interlinked,” he said.
The LG emphasised on striking a perfect balance between the society and the environment for a healthy ecosystem and a strong economy. “Nature is a great source of wisdom. The more we learn from nature, the more we understand that forests are not only an integral part of our existence but also essential for our mental, physical health, and well being. A society that is closer to nature is more prosperous,” he said.
“On this International Day of Forests, let us rededicate ourselves to protect nature and conserve forests with the spirit of ‘One World, One Health’. We must protect and nurture economic, social, and environmental values for the benefit of present and future generations,” the LG said.
He directed the J&K Rural Livelihoods Mission to launch Van Sakhi Yojana in coordination with the Forest Department for the socio-economic empowerment of the women entrepreneurs associated with the sector.
The LG asked the Forests Department and other stakeholders to ensure that policy on ‘Sustainable Utilisation of Non-timber Forest Produce in J&K’ was fully operationalised on the ground to maximise its benefits to the people, especially women and tribal communities.
He emphasised on promoting high-value forest produce like Gucci mushroom and Artemisia herbal plant, which could be found in abundance in the forests of J&K to bring significant improvement in the quality of life of the forest-dependent population without harming the forests.
The LG highlighted the efforts made in the last two years for the protection of natural resources and for extending economic benefits, livelihood, and entrepreneurship opportunities to tribal families.
“Under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a large population of our tribal families dependent on forests have been granted their Forest Rights for which they have been waiting for years,” he said.
The LG asked the Tribal Affairs Department and the district administration to work in mission mode for granting individual rights under the Forest Rights Act and establishment of Van Dhan Kendras. He complimented the Forest Department and allied wings for achieving higher targets under ‘One Beat Guard, One Village’ programme under the campaign ‘Har Gaon Hariyali’ and for their forest conservation awareness efforts.
The LG also gave suggestions for sustainable management of forests. He said that the 2.5 billion population of the world was dependent on forests in one way or the other.
“From our ancient texts to the latest and greatest invention of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, you can find one thing in common that the entire universe is made of the five elements (Panch Tatva),” the LG said.” We must move ahead with the mantra of Panchakarma – the five major goals for the next year. The Non-Timber Forest Produce scheme must encourage associated Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and communities to work on conservation of forests and plantation.” He said that forest-related education in schools and participation of students in plantation drives must be ensured.
“Van Dhan Kendras and SHGs should be involved in branding and marketing of forest-friendly products,” the LG said.
He said that the inclusion of Panchayati Raj Institutions in Van Se Jal and Jal Se Jeevan programmes would make a greater impact in the campaign for conservation of natural resources.
On the occasion, the LG presented the UT-Level Awards of Forestry and Wildlife Conservation to the frontline staff of the Forest and Wildlife Department for their outstanding contribution.
He also felicitated the Village Panchayats for their efforts in the greening of common village lands.
The LG also released the publications on ‘Forests for Livelihood’ and ‘GIS-Based Land Use and Ecosystem Resource Mapping of Kishtwar High Altitude National Park’ and a ‘Forest Song’.
Earlier, he inspected various exhibition stalls, which focused on sustainable utilisation of Non-Timber Forest Produce including medicinal, aromatic plants, and various technologies. Principal Secretary to Government, Department of Forest, Ecology and Environment Dheeraj Gupta; Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and HoFF, Mohit Gera were also present on the occasion.