WITH PUNE ranked among the polluted cities in the country, the forest department is all set to infuse a fresh lease of life through the concept of “urban forests” in the 2,000 hectare (5,000 acres) of forest land patches within the city. The forest department plans to do so with citizen’s participation.
These patches of land, which are otherwise used as dumping grounds or have sparse vegetation, will be turned into “urban forests” that will be managed by both citizens, forest officials and local body officials to ward of any encroachments on these lands.
The forest department had earlier implemented the “smriti van” concept, which has succeeded in Warje, Kondhwa and Vetal Tekdi. They are now all set to have the “urban forests” replicated at Pachgaon Parvati and Bavdhan and eventually in all the 35-40 patches of forest land within the city.
With nearly 2,000 hectare (5,000 acres) of forest land in the city, the forest department wants to make people participate in preserving the green cover through Joint Forest Management teams.
With the state and central government having released funds to the tune of Rs 10 crore to build boundary walls around these forest land covers to keep out encroachments, this concept was thought of by the forest department so that they can be well maintained and citizens can actively participate in maintaining these forests.
“The aim is to increase the green cover. The environment ministry wants to utilise the existing forest land lying vacant or degraded in various cities across the country. In Pune too, we have forest land at Mohammadwadi, Wanowrie, Hadapsar, Warje and other places,” said forest officials. On a regular basis, saplings will be planted and the forests will be maintained. In the Anandwan in Kondhwa area, environment activists water the trees and take part in sapling plantation.