Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The Forest Department plans to plant one crore saplings on private lands in the current financial year to increase the tree cover. Under the programme, saplings of profit-yielding, quick growing, drought-resistant varieties will be planted on farmers’ land by the department.

Presenting the policy note pertaining to his Ministry, Forest Minister N. Selvaraj said the national forest policy was aimed at bringing in a third of the geographical area of the country under tree cover before 2012 for ecological amelioration.

In the last two years, about 22,000 hectares were covered by planting two crore saplings on patta lands of farmers outside forest areas. The ongoing integrated forest protection scheme had been made broad-based by adding four components.

The scheme, renamed Intensification of Forest Management, would have as its new components protection and conservation of sacred groves, conservation and restoration of unique vegetation and ecosystems, control and eradication of forest invasive species and preparedness for meeting challenges of bamboo flowering and improving management of bamboo forests. It would be implemented at a cost of Rs.4.10 crore.

A sum of Rs.4 crore would be spent under the scheme to strengthen measures to control forest fires, demarcate forest boundaries to prevent encroachment by construction of cairns, carry out fire protection works and improve communication facilities.

Under Tamilnadu Afforestation Project Phase II, being implemented from 2005 – 06, 1.77 lakh hectares of degraded forests had been biologically upgraded and 800 project villages, including 150 tribal villages, brought under Joint Forest Management fold. In the current financial year, buffer zone activities such as community development and income-generation activities would be taken up under the programme on a total outlay of Rs 63 crore, the note added.