The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has congratulated the Kerala Forest Department for promoting the planting nearly 18 million trees under social forestry programme over the past four years, participating in the Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign of the UNEP.

The Department had promoted the planting of 10.14 million saplings under the Greening Kerala Scheme, 4.21 million saplings under My Tree Programme, 2.25 million saplings under the Greening the Coast Programme, 1.06 million saplings under Our Tree Programme and 12 lakh saplings under the road-side planting of shade trees programme.

Forest Minister Benoy Viswam told the media at Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday that the survival rate of the saplings were 50 per cent. The rate was the highest (80 per cent) under the My Tree Programme because of the involvement of school students and teachers.

The Programme had won the Indira Gandhi Vriksha Mitra Award on Union Ministry for Environment and Forests in 2007. The Minister noted that besides students and teachers; religious institutions, youth and women’s organizations and even political parties had participated in the social forestry programme.

Asked about the pruning of mangroves in the Kadalundi Community Reserve, the Minister said that the pruning was done on the basis of a decision of the managing committee of the Reserve. There was no policing at the Reserve as it was a community reserve.