With a view to increasing the forest cover in the district, the Forest Department will plant seedlings of teak and casuarina on an extent of 265 acres of private lands in this financial year.

After the onset of the monsoon, the Forest Department will make arrangements to take the nurseries to the private fields of small and big farmers and plant the seedlings, said Anuragh Mishra, District Forest Officer.

One lakh seedlings -- 50,000 seedlings of teak and an equal number of casuarina, had already been raised at the Department's nursery units in Pudukottai, Keeranur, Aranthangi, Tirumayam and Ponnamaravathy.

For the small farmers, a maximum of 2.5 acres will be covered. The ceiling is five acres in the case of big farmers. On an acre, a maximum of 4,000 seedlings of casuarina would be planted. For teak, which requires adequate spacing, the maximum number of seedlings is 200 an acre. The seedlings will be planted as per the choice of the farmer and the soil condition of the fields. There has been an overwhelming response from the farmers to the programme, for the 'Tree Cultivation in Private Land' (TCPL) scheme.

The Forest officials would ensure a follow-up for the survival of the seedlings. A special incentive of Rs. 5 and Re.0.25 paise will be sanctioned by March next year, to each surviving seedlings of teak and casuarina respectively.

On the success of the earlier three phases in the past three years, Mr. Mishra said that about 3,015 acres had been covered since 2007-08.

Shade-giving trees for domestic gardens:

The Forest Department had also readied the seedlings of shade-giving trees such as neem for planting at home-gardens. Persons interested can purchase the species of their choice at the Forest Offices, he said.