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Forest protection will ensure biodiversity conservation: Altaf

Daily Excelsior, Jammu, 1st April, 2013

Jammu, March 31 (Scoop News) –Minister for Forests and Environment, Mian Altaf has said that biodiversity conservation can be ensured when forests are protected, adding the initiatives taken by the Government in this direction are showing encouraging results. He said attention need to be focused on forest protection besides checking forest land encroachment.

The Minister was speaking at a seminar on “Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development” organized by Indian Institute of Public Administration(IIPA) and World Wide Fund for Nature India (WWFI) jointly here last night.

Commissioner Secretary, Forests, Sheikh Aijaz Iqbal, Member Public Service Commission, K.B.Jandial, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Vinod Ranjan, Chief Wildlife Warden, A.KSingh, Director, SFRI, Deepak Khanna, Chairman, IIPA, Dr Ashok Bhan, Vice Chairman, IIPA, Dr C.M. Seth, Secretary, IIPA ,J.B.S. Johar besides senior serving and retired officers from various wings of forest department, NGOs, faculties, research scholars, college teachers and students were present on the occasion.

The Minister said that Government has recently established Biodiversity Conservation Board while Biodiversity Act 2002 was already adopted in the State. He said the important task of forest department is to protect forests which can pledge the biodiversity conservation in the State. He said forests house wild animals, birds, insects and reptiles, adding that our collective responsibility is to initiate and work for protection of forest.

Mian Altaf said that the timber smugglers were active in certain critical areas like Shopian and Pirpanchal but with the support of the people and joint efforts of the officials, the department succeeded in containing this illegal practice of smuggling to a large extent. He said the forest land encroachment in Jammu was a challenge to the Government and the department not only succeeded in retrieving the land from encroachers but also ensured protection of forests by fencing where felt necessary.

The Minister said that lifting of ban on timber import has considerably reduced pressure on the forests. He said department has set up several nurseries aimed to save the traditional forests and the saplings produced there are being put on open sale to common man. He said it has received a good response and people prefer now to plant traditional forest trees in their fields.

Mian Altaf said the initiatives taken at administrative level to improve the work culture in the department will definitely yield good results. He said further efforts are required to set right the system. He said forest department needs an expansion to extend the ambit of its activities besides making all the wings of the department more effective and responsive.

 Aijaz Iqbal while speaking on the occasion said that there are two challenges before the world, protection and conservation of biodiversity and eradication of poverty.

Dr Asok Bhan said that need is to preserve native genetic pool of specie; identification of native plants and their conservation are important components of biodiversity conservation. He said forests store all biodiversity thus creating awareness among the people. He said consumption level of forest products has increased with population explosion.

Earlier, Dr C.M. Seth delivered lecture on “biodiversity and sustainability”. He said state has already drafted the biodiversity strategy and action plan and considerable progress has been made in this regard. He said J&K Himalayas are one of the hotspots and biodiversity authority need to make efforts to conserve it by notifying biosphere reserves. He said that several preservation plots have been set up to study the ecological behavior of certain representatives’ forest types and also to study the impact of climate changes.

Deepak Khanna presented key note address on Biodiversity Board- a step towards Biodiversity Conservation. He highlighted all pros and cons of the programme. He said UNO has declared 2011-12 as a decade on Biodiversity Conservation.

Later the Minister awarded Jodhamal public school for their best performance in organizing EARTH hour on March 23.