The proliferation of multiple editions in newspapers has resulted in more news coverage of local environmental issues.

However, reporters were thinking only about local issues and were not making the link of the local issue to the global picture, Richard Mahapatra, senior editor of ‘Down To Earth’, a fortnightly magazine, said here on Thursday.

He was delivering a lecture on the second day of a three-day (July 17 to 19) media briefing on ‘Understanding Environmental Issues for Better Reportage’ organised here from Wednesday by Centre for Science and Environment and P.S.G. College of Arts and Science.

He said that the prices for guar or cluster bean, of which Rajasthan was the major cultivator globally, had soared in recent years.

While this was reported in Rajasthan newspaper editions, he said that the media did not focus on its use as a gum in the extraction of oil and shale gas, which had increased exponentially in the U.S.

The huge rise in prices of guar was a direct result of the energy crisis in the U.S., but this news angle was not explored.

Similarly, he said that the rise of the Indian middle class and the resultant increase in demand for timber had contributed to disputes in African countries between various clans who were vying to control land for plantations.

The media had become segregated and was not investigating the links to larger issues, added Mr. Mahapatra.

Speaking later, C.R. Bijoy a forest and wildlife activist, said that the very definition of forests itself had been disputed and the case had gone all the way to the Supreme Court.

The country was home to 102 national parks, 520 wildlife sanctuaries, 57 conservation reserves and four community reserves.

Around 22 per cent of forest area had so far been declared as ‘Protected Areas’ and, according to Government data, 1.73 per cent of forest area had been encroached.

Around 4.3 million people lived inside national parks. Nearly 60 per cent of the national parks were yet to complete the process of rights settlement.

As on May 31, he said that of the total 32,48,130 petitions filed by forest dwellers asserting their rights to live inside the forest area, 60.22 per cent had been rejected.

So far, 86.88 per cent of the petitions had been disposed of, added Mr. Bijoy.

While there were nine tiger reserves in 1973, there were 41 at present.

Several experts on various issues of environment, ecology, and wildlife addressed the meeting.

A field trip to some of the forest area in the district had been scheduled for Friday.

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