Special Correspondent

``Multiple demands being made''

NEW DELHI: Union Environment and Forests Minister A. Raja said the Government was trying to strike a balance between conservation and development as it was vital for long-term ecological security.

Inaugurating a two-day conference of the Principal Chief Conservators of Forests and Chief Wildlife Wardens here on Tuesday, Mr. Raja said multiple demands were made on the forest sector, ranging from livelihood concerns to developmental aspirations. "This highlights the need to increase the utility value of our forest resources," he said.

Reiterating the Government's commitment to achieve a 33 per cent forest and tree cover by 2012, Mr. Raja said the 12th Finance Commission had allocated an additional Rs. 1,000 crore to conserve forests.

The Ministry is seeking participation from different stakeholders to make wastelands green under the multi stakeholder partnership programme.

He said efforts were on to influence other land-owning ministries to earmark two per cent of their budgetary outlay to plant trees and earmark 25 per cent of plan outlay in the Rural Employment Guarantee Schemes to the Ministries of Rural Development and Agriculture. These initiatives need to be complemented by State governments, he said. As many as 70 Principal Chief Conservators of Forests and Chief Wildlife Wardens from all over the country are attending the workshop, besides forest officers from training and management institutes under the Ministry.

Honour for Tamil Nadu

Earlier, the Tamil Nadu Forest Department was presented the ESRI Award for special achievements in using the Geographic Information System (GIS). The Tamil Nadu Forest Department has created a digital database of forest cover using the GIS and remote sensing technology. The authorities manage forest-related activities and disseminate information to divisional offices using the GIS.