Dilawar proposes cross-departmental j0oint forest management in J

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Srinagar, Apr 1 (UNI) Concerned over severe deforestation which has caused climatic change and drought conditions in Jammu and Kashmir, horticulture Minister Mohammad Dilawar Mir said the government has decided to dove-tail and pool resources in related programmes of forest, horticulture, PHE and irrigation departments for eco- development and Joint Forest management (JFM).

''Much of our forests have been devastated by severe deforestation, causing climatic change and drought conditions detrimental to agriculture and horticulture activities, Mr Mir said and added that the creation of the proposed JFM village committees would go a long way to bring about a turn around in this trend.

He said it has been proposed to constitute a pilot project involving the Forest department and several villages in the upper reaches of Rafiabad for starters.

Mr Mir said under this institutional arrangement, that would allow financial support to flow into the JFM programme from other departments and the private sector, several villages would be selected for creation of new Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs).

Villagers too have agreed to cooperate with both the forest and horticulture departments and staff concerned to curb de-forestation in the area while earning livelihoods from a forestation and other joint forest management activities, the minister said.

He said depletion of water reservoirs has greatly affected the sustainability of livelihoods, especially amongst remote communities in the upper reaches, and the JFM initiative planned by the Forest Department for the most severely affected villages is a welcome step.

However, he said there was a need to ensure greater cross- departmental coordination for forest conservation and rural development.

''If this pilot project takes off well, it could have an important demonstration effect for future efforts in the rest of the state,'' he added.

Elaborating the proposed JFM, Mr Mir said funding for the pilot project is sought from corporate social responsibility funds of companies operating in the State, central and state rural horticulture development and forest conservation schemes, and other potential sources.

For the first time, villagers will be able to generate livelihoods through both direct participation in aforestation and forest conservation, and through the development of value added income generating activities, such as small scale horticulture, agriculture and eco-tourism, the minister said.

UNI BAS ASM SK KN1448

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