Hyderabad: The forest department’s idea to grow a natural fence alongside forest boundaries and minimise man-animal conflicts is yielding good results but for squatters, who are coming in the way.
Forest officials had earlier planned to dig a trench throughout the forest boundary and plant Gachakaya (Caesalpinia bonduc) there. The plant will act as a natural fencing on the forest boundary, while its spikes will reduce chances of wild animals venturing past it.
But it will take at least 18 months for the plants to assume the shape of a fence.
Telangana has a 26,000-km forest boundary and officials are assured that a trench with Gachakaya plantation is needed in 14,000-km.
The process began three years ago. An 8,400-km trench has been dug and Gachakaya planted on 4,500-km of it. Once this is completed, the plant will serve as a fence. But, in many areas, squatters are not allowing trenches to be dug.
“We are having trouble with the squatters,” said a senior forest department official. “Dealing with encroachments is a sensitive issue, as many of the squatters depend on the land for their livelihood. That is what brings political leaders into the frame. We are working hard to resolve the issues. In some scenarios we have decided not to lay a trench.”
He further said, “Grazing of cattle is another headache. Because of a drought situation, the government of Andhra Pradesh in 1968 came up with a grazing policy to allow cattle into the forests. Cattle are seen in many water bodies throughout the day. What would wild animals do then? Policies are needed to control these animal conflicts.”...