Jammu: The Forest Department today observed the “International Mother Earth day”. The theme for this year is “Restore our Earth”.
The event was organized through Web Conference and was well attended by all the officers of Forest Department and HoDs and other officers of the allied wings of Forest Department viz., Pollution Control Board, Soil and Water Conservation Department, Social Forestry Department, Wildlife Protection Department, WUCMA besides representatives of prominent NGOs and civil society organization. The experts shared their views on the activities to be carried out in the field of environmental protection, afforestation, pollution mitigation etc., towards rejuvenation of environment for healthy living.
While inaugurating the Web Conference, Keshav Varma, (Retd.) former Ahmadabad Municipal Commissioner and recently appointed Chairman of Special Purpose Vehicle on Smart Cities by Government of J&K emphasized the need for ecological balance, responsible afforestation, biodiversity indexing and zonation of developments and conservation related activities. He insisted that quantification of ecosystem services and green accounting should be done for J&K. He further observed that maintaining the quality of habitat is very essential for fauna to thrive well. He also insisted on maintaining open communication with other departments and general public which will help in forming successful plans.
Suresh Chugh, Chairman, J&K Pollution Control Board, while speaking on the occasion, reflected on the need for healthy environment for a healthy earth which is capable of providing natural resources sustainably. He insisted on the responsibility of individuals, societies and organizations in healing and restoring the health of earth for sustainability.
Dr. Mohit Gera, PCCF and HoFF & Chairman Biodiversity Council, J&K highlighted the activities of the department for rejuvenation of ecology, rehabilitation of degraded forests, protection of forests, conservation of Biodiversity. The role of grass root level institutions like Village Panchayats, BMCs, FRCs,JFMCs and VPPCs was highlighted by him for effective implementation of various schemes and programmes like Green India Mission, CAMPA and CAPEX plan.
The success of “Green Jammu & Kashmir Drive” in planting of more than 100 lakh saplings during 2020-21 with active involvement of people and other stakeholders was also highlighted by him. He also spoke on various activities which the department shall be carrying out in 2021-22 which will directly support the restoration of Earth. He also informed that with the help and support of all the stake holders mainly the Rural & Urban Local Bodies, Line Departments, NGOs & Civil Society, the department can successfully contribute towards other program of the Government like Jal Shakti Abhiyan-III; Catch the Rain: where it falls, when it falls, Smart Cities and Fit India.
Suresh Kumar Gupta, Chief Wildlife Warden, Wildlife Protection Department spoke about the highly diverse Wild Animal wealth of the J&K. He also spoke about human-wildlife conflict, improvement of wildlife habitat and creation of Water Harvesting Structures for mitigation human-wildlife conflict. He also shared recent incidence of seizure of wildlife countrabands like leopard skins, nails, canines and molars of wild animals and expressed the need for coordination vigilance and protection of wildlife. Sh. Sarvesh Rai, APCCF/CEO CAMPA shared his views on the spirit behind compensatory afforestation and net present value and how the department is utilizing these compensatory levies in afforestation works. He also called for landscape based planning for afforestation works so that large areas are afforested for ecosystem service.
Dr. Jagdish Kishwan, (Retd.) former PCCF (HoFF) spoke about REDD plus, which can help in not only restoring the degraded forests of J&K but also it can lead to spin off benefits like biodiversity conservation, livelihood generation and mitigation of climate change.
A.K. Srivastava, (Retd.) Former PCCF and Director General, NCCF spoke about Forest Certification and its benefit to farmers in expanding the markets and increased returns of their produce including export of timber. S.F.A. Gillani, APCCF/Chief Conservator of Forests, Kashmir spoke about Wetlands Conservation and linked livelihood generation to local population.
Nadeem Qadri, Amicus Curiae to the High Court of J&K, while speaking on the occasion, advocated for green and clean J&K and appreciated the efforts of the Forest Department in Green J&K Drive. Further, he thanked the department for collaborating with his organization for planting of thousands of trees. He shared activities of Earth Network and called for working together to deal with difficult problems of polythene as well as pollution.
Nazir-Be-Nazir of Society for Protection of Wetlands also shared his views about protecting the environment and the role of their organization in it. He gave an example of floods of 2014 in Kashmir which result in huge losses because of land use change of wetlands. He advocated that Forests should be a focal point for planning for all other departments if Earth is to be restored speedily and effectively.
The program concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr. Balaji, CCF, J&K Forest Department.