Govt sets up fund for village forest committees

The primary task of village forest committees (VFCs) is conserving, developing and managing natural forests at the local level. Besides, the government is committed to plugging the loopholes in the existing forest laws for the welfare of village forest committees, the minister said, speaking after inaugurating a ‘Forest-people contact programme’ organised by the Forest Department and the Western Ghats Task Force at Gayathri Mandir here.

Though the State has about 5,000 forest committees, only 2,000 such committees are active in preserving natural forests, he said. Lack of financial assistance has discouraged VFCs from actively taking part in forest conservation. Hence, the Forest Department has launched a special project to reinvigorate VFCs to work towards protecting forests, he said.

‘Sirichandana Vana’

He said the department would also launch a scheme, Sirichandana Vana, with a view to increasing the number of sandalwood trees that are on the verge of extinction in the State.

Under the scheme, sandalwood saplings will be planted on nearly 2,000 hectare in each district in the State, he said. Besides, the department will provide within a month compensation to farmers whose crops had been destroyed by wild animals.

The minister further said forest guards, watchers, surveyors, and range forest officers were being recruited as part of the efforts to strengthen the department.

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