For those who shed blood to shield the green: National Forest Martyrs Day

By Sudeshna Banerjee
National Forest Martyrs Day was marked by a programme at Banabitan on Wednesday in which a part of the Children’s Park in front of Banabitan was rechristened Shaheed Smriti Bon, in memory of the fallen foresters.

The day is being observed ever since the ministry of environment and forests made the declaration in 2013 to recognise the valour and sacrifice made the forest personnel for protection of forests and wildlife.

The day commemorates the Khejarli massacre in 1730 when Maharaja Abhay Singh’s army started felling khejri trees held sacred by the Bishnoi community in Khejarli village in Rajasthan. A woman named Amrita Devi had stepped up in resistance, offering her head instead. She was decapitated as were her three daughters, who took her place, followed by 359 Bishnoi men till the news reached the king.

“People think all the sacrifices made in the line of duty are by the armed forces. No one thinks of us. I have seen at close range how three lives were lost while I was posted in the Midnapore range. Two of my men died of tiger attacks while another was trampled by an elephant,” said Rabindranath Saha, deputy conservator of forests.

Forest minister Bratya Basu invoked the spirit of Suresh Biswas, the 19th century Bengali adventurer, in toasting the courage of the foresters. “Our pride is not just in our past but in our present too. It is unfortunate that even ministers are quoting epics as sources of scientific truth,” he said.

Later, he regretted the recent attacks on foresters probing the death of a tiger in the Sunderbans. “We need peaceful cohabitation of wildlife and villagers in buffer zones,” he said.

Source: For those who shed blood to shield the green: National Forest Martyrs Day – The Telegraph, 2019-09-14

India eyes farm forestry to reduce carbon footprint

By Jayashree Nandi
India plans to partner with the private sector in scaling up its agro-forestry efforts. This is, however, a controversial subject because environmental activists are against India allowing any private or corporate forestry projects on forest land.

Agro-forestry or farm forestry will be India’s key strategy to reduce its carbon footprint so as to meet its goals under the Paris climate agreement according to the submission the country plans to make at the COP 24 climate conference that’s being held in Poland.

The forest conservation division of the union environment ministry has readied a document which will be presented during COP 24 underway at Katowice in Poland, as part of India’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) strategy.

India plans to partner with the private sector in scaling up its agro-forestry efforts. This is, however, a controversial subject because environmental activists are against India allowing any private or corporate forestry projects on forest land.

India, through various forestry projects including agroforestry, aims to sequester about 2.5 to 3 billion tones of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 2030.

Source: India eyes farm forestry to reduce carbon footprint – Hindustan Times, 2018-12-03

Study predicts huge depletion of forest cover in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh by 2028

A study carried out by the IIRS has predicted a depletion of 9,007.14 square km (2.94 per cent) of forests in parts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh by 2028.

A report published in the The Telegraph stated that the study – ‘Forest Cover Monitoring and Prediction in a Lesser Himalayan Elephant Landscape’ – published in the current issue of Current Science, says deforestation and loss of wildlife habitat in Upper Assam is likely to influence not only adjoining Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh but Lower Assam as well. The IIRS is under the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The report further stated that scientists involved in the study said they monitored the depletion of forest cover in parts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh over 42,375 square km in an elephant landscape falling in the Lesser Himalaya in the North East. The study, which covered a vast elephant landscape spread across West Bengal-Assam, Assam-Bhutan and Assam-Arunachal Pradesh borders in the lesser Himalayas, found a loss of about 7,590 square km (17.92 per cent) of forest cover from 1924 to 2009.

This was also found by US Army topographic maps (1924) and multi-date satellite images. The forest cover of 2028 was predicted using the 2000-2009 depletion of forests study and Cellular Automata Markov Model (CAMM). As elephants are long-ranging animals and are distributed across the landscape, it is important to carry out studies covering large areas to address the habitat status over time, which can be used for effective habitat conservation.

Source: Study predicts huge depletion of forest cover in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh by 2028 – Northeast Now, 2018-08-23

Under Attack, foresters suspend patrolling, fire duty

By Amit S Upadhye, Bengaluru, India
Backed by political leaders and anti social elements, the villagers living around the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary are resorting to attacks on forest officials. The attacks are on the rise after the recent shootout incident where a resident of Doddahalli was shot dead.

Fearing more attacks, the foresters have suspended patrolling duties in the sanctuary. The foresters who retaliated a shooting group and killed a poacher are now demanding police protection for them and their family members.

Source: Under Attack, foresters suspend patrolling, fire duty- The New Indian Express, 2017-03-21

Indian foresters at greater risk than those of other countries

DEHRADUN: India has been leading for many successive years for having the maximum casualties of foresters for the same pursuits, in comparison with Asia, Africa, America.

Shashi Kumar, director-general of Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, said “There is conflict of interests and incidents such as forest fire etc which is resulting into deaths of foresters. Human-wildlife interface has also increased many notches above. The area of wildlife is disturbed because of several reasons, resulting into human-wildlife conflict on constant rise. Our front line forces are not equipped to face this challenge. They lack the modern training and equipment.”

Source: India has the maximum casulties of foresters in comparison to other Asian, American and African countries – Times of India