Ooty: The Nilgiri Documentation Centre (NDC) has called for actions to utilize the 34 hectares of land, retrieved recently by the forest department from the golf club in Ooty, for extension forestry programme to help create awareness programme, trek and related activities to make the public develop interest towards forestry.
Making this appeal Ooty veteran Mr. Dharmalingam Venugopal, the Director of NDC, said that it is welcome news that 34 hectares of land leased out to the Ootacamund Golf Club has reverted to the forest department following a Supreme Court order.
The forest department is already having more land than it can effectively manage in the Nilgiris. This 34 hectares, which is abutting the Ooty town, should not be merely added to the land under forest.
The forest department could use the 34 hectares for promoting “Extension Forestry” to spread awareness, education and responsibility in forest conservation among the locals and the visitors. Extension forestry also includes entertainment components like leaning games, treks and camping.
The UN Food and Agricultural Organization defines forest extension “as any process of integrating indigenous and derived knowledge, attitudes and skills to determine what is needed, how it can be done, what local co-operation and resources can be mobilized and what additional assistance may be necessary to overcome particular obstacles. It implies action by the people to solve local problems, not action for them, though it does not preclude assistance where local resources are inadequate to meet otherwise realistic and necessary targets”.
This can be used by the forest department as a long-term strategy to tackle issues like man-animal conflict, forest fires and invasive species. Proper infrastructure and monitoring for forest tourism will prevent visitors entering reserve forest areas unauthorized and misusing the place.
Educational institutions, NGOs, community groups, social service organizations and individuals can be involved in the extension work, Mr. Venugopal suggested....