IMPHAL, May 4 (Newmai): Manipur principal chief conservator of forests and head of Forest Force (PCCF & HoFF) on Friday said that for the first time, the survey for presence of elephants in the state has been conducted under Project Elephant funded by the Centre at two districts Tamenglong and Ukhrul in 2017-18. He was addressing the media persons at the ongoing series of press conference organised by the directorate of information and public relations (DIPR) at the Moirangkhom office.
K Angami said for the first time Manipur is being covered under All India Tiger Estimation 2018 exercise of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). He also said that Tamenglong, Senapati and Ukhrul/Kamjong are covered as these districts have high potential of presence of small resident tiger population. The districts have connectivity through forest corridors with Kaziranga National Park and Myanmar forests, the officer added.
According to K Angami, the forest department also took up the initiative to set up a Conservation-cum-Captive Breeding Centre of the state bird ‘Nongin’ in its native area of Shirui, Ukhrul. The department intensified its habitat management of Sangai and promoting eco-tourism in Keibul Lamjao National Park (KLNP). As per 2016 population estimation, the population of Sangai has increased to 260 which include 75 Stags, 127 Hinds and 58 Fawns, he added.
He then said the department organised ‘Curtain Raiser’ during Sangai Festival 2017 at KLNP in collaboration with the Tourism Department resulting in increase of tourists’ in the current year. He said compared to 6,000 visitors in National Park last year, the number of visitors crossed the 10,000 figure during the current year.
PCCF & HoFF said a total of 154 illegal timber seizure cases were disposed off during 2017-18 (till 31st January, 2018). He said the Indian Forest Act (Manipur Amendment) Bill, 2018 passed in the Manipur Legislative Assembly in February (Budget Session) will help to strengthen the protection network for forest and streamline the regulatory mechanisms for movement of forest produces.
He said Manipur recorded an increase in forest area of 263 sq km in the latest report of India State of Forest Report (ISFR), 2017 released by the Forest Survey of India on 12th February, 2018, which is the third highest rate of increase in India after Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
The increase in forest area is a result of conservation, plantations and regeneration take up under various Central and State schemes. He gave credit to the department officials, Joint Forest Management Committee (JFMC) and people including the villagers for playing an important role. The department collected revenue of Rs 23.50 crore during 2017-18 from April 2017-March 2018 for which he gave credit to the security forces including the para-military and State Police personnel for giving assistance in many cases including in seizing illegal timbers at various locations even at the interior areas of the State.
To increase the forest cover and improve forest, K Angami said the department is taking up afforestation programmes under Green India Mission (GIM), Restocking of Reserve Forest, Social Forestry Plantations, National Afforestation Programme (NAP), National Bamboo Mission and Medicinal Plant Projects in partnership with the villagers of respective areas.
The officer informed that during 2017-18, the department initiated the works in 556 hectare area under Restocking of Reserve Forest. Social Forestry Plantations are being taken up in 136 hectare to meet the fuel wood and fodder demand during the current year. Under Green India Mission, 7939 hectare area is being maintained to improve the density of degraded forests. Under CAMPA, afforestation was taken up in 6930.74 hectare area with an amount of Rs 32.08 crore and under NAP, 1438 hectare area is being taken up under afforestation with an amount of Rs 3.55 crore during the 2017-18.
Informing that a separate Urban Forestry has been energised and the Division has taken up 19.10 km of road median plantation on important roads of Imphal and Bishnupur (Moirang), he said all the road median plantations are maintained by the Forest Department from 2017-18 excluding the Airport Road which is maintained by the Directorate of Environment. He highlighted that the more than 9.5 lakh seedlings were distributed to the people for plantations free of costs under ‘Vana Mohatsava’ programme during 2017-18 and the department is targeting to raise about 25 lakh seedlings during 2018-19.
During the current year, 8 new ‘Community Reserves’ involving an area of 92.71 sq km have been notified under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 in Senapati and Tamenglong districts which has helped the department to increase the Protected Area Network in the State from 3.8% to 4.2% of the total geographical area. Community Reserves are the decentralised means of management of Protected Area Network where ownership rests with the Village Authority but with commitment for the protection of forests and conservation of wildlife, in return the Forest Department goes to village with some developmental activities.
He said the Central Government under National Mission on Himalayan Studies approved a new ambitious project Nature Learning Centre (NLC) based in Imphal, which will spread its activities across the State by involving village chiefs, civil societies, school institutes, media persons, politicians and administrators towards the cause of protection and conservation.