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Millennium Post

‘Preserve forest wealth by people’s involvement’

Due to global warming and change in climate patterns, forests are disappearing at an alarming rate in India, thereby endangering country’s flora and fauna, including human existence. The moot question is how to manage forest resources to plan a safe and better future.

In an interview with Millennium Post, V K Bahuguna, senior IFS officer and director general of Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), addresses various issues regarding the same. 
Bahuguna is an expert on community forestry and represents the country at various international forums. He has won many prestigious awards like Queen’s Award for Forestry in 2000. He has also penned down numerous books, including articles and features in various magazines and national and international journals. Excerpts:

What are the major causes of forest degradation in the Uttarakhand?

Forest fire and biotic pressures are the main culprits of forest degradation in the state. Apart from these, grazing and collection of woods by locals for cooking and other purposes also causes forest degradation. Another cause is poor investment. Forests are our soul and heart. There is an urgent need to make people aware about the importance of forests at grass root level.

Global warming is a worldwide phenomenon. What are the impacts of global warming on the rich forest cover area of hilly areas?

Global warming is a natural phenomenon. Man-made activities like materialistic lifestyle and use of poor technology are the ingredients of global warming. In our state, there is water stress and as a result, forests are moving to xeric condition. The 65 per cent forest covers in this state need to be 
managed well.

How can we preserve forest wealth in a more pragmatic way?

We can preserve forest wealth simply by people’s involvement and by applying latest eco-friendly technology for sustainable development of the forest reserves. There is need of joint forest management and by promoting village protection committees and panchayat. In our country, nearly five crore people are directly involved in joint forest management.

What are the prospects of forest tourism in our state? In the UK, it has become a booming industry?

This is a very good question indeed. In the UK, 70 to 80 per cent revenue from forest lands comes from tourism sector. There is vast scope for village decentralised tourism at village level. It will give encouragement to traditional dishes, traditional lifestyle. Moreover, it will also check migration of youths to plains by generating employment opportunities by various means. For village tourism, simple emphasis should be given to proper 
transport, clean drinking water and other basic requirements from the tourists’ point of view.

What are the strategies to prevent over-exploitation of forests?

Instead of forest-based products which are needed for day-to-day life, we can go for alternatives where there is no exploitation of forests or least exploitation of forests.

What are the scopes of herbal medicines in the hilly areas?

There is tremendous scope for herbal medicines which needs to be tapped. Moreover, cultivation of herbal medicines under the guidance of expertise can generate revenue to the state government besides giving employment to the local youth.
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