January 26, 2022 1:32:46 pm
Ecological Experts have pointed out that the Karnataka forest department should concentrate more on plantations in dry regions than in notified forest areas in the Western Ghats. Dry regions like Vijayapura, Raichur, Gadag, and Koppal have less than 5 per cent green cover and plantations there would contribute more to carbon sequestration (the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide to mitigate global warming), said experts.
Former principal chief conservator of forest BK Singh said: “Annually the forest department has been taking up plantations of 50,000 hectares in the state of Karnataka. There is a greater focus on planting in Western Ghats areas than in dry areas. The growth in Western Ghats areas is on average 30 cubic metres per hectare per year, while that in dry areas is three cubic metres per hectare per year. But the problem is that the Western Ghats areas are fully saturated and newly planted trees do not record good growth. I would advise that the focus is shifted to dry areas that will generate more overall biomass in the state, which will have more carbon sequestration potential.”
Singh suggested that the forest department should grow trees on wastelands held by communities and the revenue department.
According to the statistics by the Forest Survey of India (FSI), Kodagu is the greenest district with 79.42 per cent of its geographical area under green cover followed by Uttara Kannada which has 79.12 per cent of the geographical area under green cover. Raichur, which has only 0.52 per cent of its geographical area under green cover, could not add even a per cent to its green cover between 2019-202. Dharwad, which has 8.80 per cent of the area under green cover, could add only 0.49 sq km to its forest cover. Vijayapura has 0.26 per cent of the area under forest cover, which is the least among districts.
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Singh pointed out that Uttara Kannada district is a heavily forested area where illegal felling of trees and diversion of forest areas for developmental projects have damaged the natural forest. However, the trend to fill the narrow gaps would not put up more growth. he said.
“There is a limit to the amount of biomass any land can produce, so planting of more trees beyond the capacity of the land should be avoided. It would also not add to the carbon sequestration potential of the forests,” he said.
“The Western Ghats region already has many naturally regenerated seedlings and many times these are also counted as planted. Instead, the department ought to have concentrated and diverted much of its funds in regreening dry regions of Karnataka,” a senior forest official told The Indian Express.
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