Karnataka losing forest cover at alarming rate

Bengaluru: With the state government choosing development over ecology, the state is slowly heading towards the disappearance of the forest land.

In Karnataka, out of 15,860 hectares of forest land diverted for different projects, only 1,270 hectares of non-forest Compensatory Allotment land has been notified under Section 4 of the Karnataka Forest Act.

The Protected Forest notification is still far off leading to loss of natural vegetation in Western Ghats.

Former Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Karnataka, B.K. Singh said that forest lands are diverted at the will of the state across the nation.

“Forests are not only lost in non-forest areas, but is also in forest areas, where Forest (Conservation) Act 1980, has not been properly implemented. Compensatory afforestation (CA) grown on non-forest land have not been very successful. In majority of cases, CA lands are not notified as Protected Forests, these lands are located far from forests clusters and pose management issues,” he said.

He further added that the species chosen for compensatory forestation were mono culture of two or three species and could never be a substitute for the loss of forests with high biodiversity value.

“Diverting forests in Western Ghats and planting CA land in dry areas is a very poor compensation,” he commented.

Recently, hilly districts like Wayanad, Idukki (in Kerala) and Kodagu in the state bore the brunt of landslides and landslips. The former IFS officer associated this with soil piping – when the trees are cleared in any area, the underneath roots decompose over period of time and hollow pipes are developed beneath the earth surface. The earth in such areas sinks up to 20 metres and the phenomenon is termed as soil piping

Recently, the state government has decided to notify the wooded areas under the control of the Revenue Department as compensatory forests in lieu of the forest land diverted, but Singh remarked that though it was a good move, it does not bring additional area under vegetation and may impact rain and induce natural disaster.


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