SEP 11, 2018 – NATIONAL FOREST MARTYR’S DAY:

Forest Martyrs’ Day was observed on September 11, 2018  to commemorate the personnel of Department of Forest and Wildlife who laid down their lives to protect natural resources.

On this day in 1730, over 360 members of the Bishnoi community were killed in Khejarli, now in Rajasthan, when they had objected felling of Khejri trees, by the then king of Jodhpur.

DRAFT NATIONAL FOREST POLICY 2018:

The ministry of environment, forest and climate change has framed a new draft National Forest Policy 2018 in March, 2018. The new forest policy aims to address the new realities – climate change, human-animal conflict and declining green cover.

The features of the draft forest policy 2018 include:

  1. It aims to bring a minimum one-third of India’s total geographical area under forest cover through scientific interventions and enforcing strict rules to protect the dense cover.
  2. Unlike the previous policies, which stressed on environmental stability and maintenance of ecological balance, the 2018 policy focuses on the international challenge of climate change.
  3. It proposes public-private participation models for undertaking afforestation and reforestation activities in degraded forest areas and forest areas available with Forest Development Corporations and outside forests.
  4. To address the issues of human-animal conflict it proposes for Quick response, dedicated teams of well equipped and trained personnel, mobility, strong interface with health and veterinary services, rescue centres, objective and speedy assessment of damage and quick payment of relief to the victims would be at the core of the short-term action.
  5. Monitoring and management of population of wildlife would be adopted on a long-term basis within and outside forests for maintaining the balance.
  6. Safeguard forest land by exercising strict restraint on diversion for non-forestry purposes, and strict oversight on compliance of the conditions.

The policy is criticized for:

  • Involving private concerns for afforestation and reforestation activities pointing out that this would mean privatisation of India’s natural resources and creating private forests.
  • It doesn’t provide mechanisms on how these objectives will be achieved considering the competitive demands for forestlands.
  • The draft policy orients itself more on the conservation and preservation of forest wealth rather than regenerating them through people’s participation.
  • The policy does not discuss in detail the contentious issue of diversion of forest land for mining and other purposes.

Although the draft policy mentions the importance of forests in Northeast India, it fails to address the forest diversion issues for projects in the region.

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