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Forest cover decreases in Sariska, Ranthambore tiger reserves

RAJASTHAN, 25/06/2013: Ranthambore Tiger sanctuary in Rajasthan on June 25, 2013. Photo: R. Balaji

RAJASTHAN, 25/06/2013: Ranthambore Tiger sanctuary in Rajasthan on June 25, 2013. Photo: R. Balaji

The famous Ranthambore and Sariska tiger reserves in Rajasthan have registered a decrease in their forest cover over the last decade, while there was a marginal increase of 25.45 sq. km in other parts of the State as compared to 2019. A major portion of the loss was in the open forest areas, which are an important part of the wildlife sanctuaries.

The Indian State of Forest Report, a biennial publication of the Forest Survey of India under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, has revealed that the total area of green cover decreased by 44.57 sq. km in Ranthambore and 15.95 sq. km in Sariska. The forest cover with respect to the areas of digitised tiger reserve boundary was 45.39% in Ranthambore and 66.83% in Sariska.

Elsewhere in the State, the patches of land with very dense forest were found in Alwar, Bikaner, Hanumangarh and Jaipur districts and their size remained unchanged at 78.15 sq. km, while there were some changes in the moderately dense and open forest cover. The area of 16,645.96 sq. km of the green cover in the State comprised 4.87% of the total area of the State, according to the report.

The report has analysed expansion of forest cover inside and outside the recorded forest area in different categories and given a finding that the green cover across the State has increased marginally by 25.45 sq. km. Besides, as many as five invasive species of trees have occupied a total of 511 sq. km of the recorded forest area.

Forest and wildlife experts here have attributed the shrinking size of forest cover to the encroachments for agriculture and an unchecked grazing of animals over extensive areas. Tourism & Wildlife Society of India (TWSI) honorary secretary Harsh Vardhan told The Hindu that since the pasture lands had been largely destroyed, there was an extreme pressure of grazing on the forest land.

Mr. Vardhan said wherever an expansion in the green cover was visible, it was because of the spread of the invasive shrubs of Prosopis juliflora . These plants cause negative impacts, affect the native biodiversity and cause economic losses in the habitats where they grow.

‘Political influence’

After a plantation exercise undertaken in Jaipur district’s Neota village recently, the livestock grazing on the land destroyed half of the 500 saplings planted on the land.

Experts said the grazing on the forest land was often facilitated by the people enjoying political influence, which rendered the task of forest protection difficult.

The experts also suggested replication of a model involving eco-restoration of a rocky tract of land near Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, which was earlier densely covered by Prosopis juliflora , and its conversion into a green habitat. After the project's completion, the fort is surrounded on three sides by a natural landscape which has become a much-admired nature park.

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Printable version | May 19, 2022 5:43:25 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/forest-cover-decreases-in-sariska-ranthambore-tiger-reserves/article38307193.ece