Ministry can't see wood for the trees in forest

Ministry can't see wood for the trees in forest

An RTI activist had sought to know how the forest cover is measured

The startling disclosure on the absence of any definiiton on “forest” came after Ajay Marathe, a resident of Mumbai, had filed an Right To Information (RTI) application asking for state-wise and area-wise comparison statement showing increase in forest area and the forest cover in the last decade.

A Forest Policy Division official of the ministy in his reply said:
“Definition of forests is under active consideration and yet to be finalised. However, regarding definition of “forest”, we may like to refer to the judgment of Honourable Supreme Court dated December 12, 1996 in the case of Tamil Nadu Godavarman versus Union of India and others in Writ Petition civil No. 202/1995”.

“It is surprising that in the report on ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’ updated on 30 March 2011 they talk in length and breadth on how 3 million hectares of forest cover have been added over the last decade. This too when we get to read news reports of encroachment on forest area by builders, chopping off trees in other places leading to forest being completely erased in many states. This is why I asked them to provide what was the definition of forests for preparing the report,” Marathe said.

“The report speaks of shifting focus from increasing the quantity of forest towards increasing its quality and improving provision of ecosystem goods and services. That is why I have asked them to define quality of forest and how it is measured,” he said.

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