Special Correspondent

Natural resources are under pressure owing to rising population: Governor

13 per cent of land in Asia and the Pacific has been degraded Poor quality of forest cover is because of lack of proper management and use of natural resources `Scientists, economists and ecologists should play a vital role in safeguarding natural resources'

BANGALORE: Governor T.N. Chaturvedi has questioned the claims that the area under forests in the country is increasing and noted that the quality of forest cover was poor.

He also noted that natural resources such as land, water and forests were under pressure owing to increasing population and growing demands.

Mr. Chaturvedi was inaugurating a three-day "Asia Regional Workshop on Compensation for Ecosystems Services" at the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC) here.

Degradation

He said there was slow recognition of degradation of natural resources in the country. He quoted a report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and said about 13 per cent of land in Asia and the Pacific had been degraded.

A conflict between environment and development started at the end of 18th century following the Industrial Revolution in Europe and protests against ecological imbalances were widespread in the 19th century.

Depletion of groundwater, salinity, water logging, pollution and displacement and rehabilitation were some of the major problems the country was facing now.

The problem of poor quality of forest cover was because of lack of proper management and use of natural resources, Mr. Chaturvedi said.

Role of scientists

For the last few decades, there had been explosion of interest in the science and economics of ecosystem. Scientists, economists and ecologists had to play a vital role in safeguarding the natural resources. The policymakers depended on the report or opinion given by experts and it was unfair to blame the authorities for inadequate rehabilitation of the displaced people. For instance, experts had submitted different reports on the construction of Tehri dam in Uttar Pradesh, the Governor said.

Long-term strategy

The participation of communities and non-governmental organisations was essential to strike a balance between ecology and development. A sustainable development should be adopted as a long-term strategy for preservation of resources, he said.

S.L. Rao, chairman, Board of Governors, ISEC, said institutional and legal constraints came in the way of protection of natural resources.

Reasons for conflicts

A strong public opinion was needed to punish individuals who killed rare forest species, he said.

Corruption, lack transparency in decision-making and poor rehabilitation of displaced families of projects were some of the reasons for conflicts in the society, he said.

Gopal K. Kadekodi, director, ISEC, said that the institute was conducting the workshop in association with the International Development Research Centre, Canada and the International Centre for Research in Agroforesting, Nairobi, Kenya.

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