Hyderabad: After 30 years, the nation’s forest policy will focus on the battle the world is facing i.e. climate change. While all the previous forest policies focused on revenue generation, ecology and stability, the new draft policy focuses on sustainability of forests and climate change.
The National Forest Policy draft, 2018 has addressed many integral issues in the environment but it has drawn sharp criticism for allowing the corporate sector to have its say in forest lands. An excerpt from the National Forest Policy, 2018 reads, ‘Public private participation models will be developed for undertaking afforestation and reforestation in degraded forest and forest areas available.’
An increase in private plantations in forest areas will cost us more than our land, say officials. Srinivas Rao, a senior forest officer, said, “The concept of Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility (CSER) has become a farce with many companies doing environmental work on a superficial level. If we let go of land ownership, the same will prevail. Soon, we will hear complaints regarding lack of monitoring and personnel.
What is even more problematic is the loss of indigenous wildlife and species. Like Avenue plantations, only a certain variety of greenery i.e. a mono culture will prevail in these areas. It will mean a serious downfall for our lush green forests.”
With private ownership, the tribal population who reside in the forests and largely depend on forest produce for their livelihood will also face a problem.
The draft also states that climate change concerns will be factored in all the forest and wildlife areas working plans. Professor N. Narayana, a researcher of climate change in IIT- H says, “It is about time we include climate change in our forest policy.
Our environment is getting affected by climate change and unless we deal with the same with more afforestation, specific species, more eco-friendly methods, less man made emissions and other measures, our green cover will not see a significant rise.”