Involve people in forest conservation, says chief secretary

Conservation and protection of forests can never be done efficiently without the active participation of the public, S V Ranganath, Chief Secretary of the State, has said.

Emphasising on participatory forest management and development, he spoke about forest conservation with the aid of technology and e-governance.

Ranganath was addressing forest department officials from across the nation after inaugurating a two-day national workshop (May 9-11) on ‘Info-systems for decision-making in forestry’.

The event is a first-of-its-kind initiative of the Karnataka Forest Department. More than 100 participants, including the department officials, research organisations and activists, are expected to take part in the workshop.

With an aim to provide a platform for exchange of ideas and information on utilising technology in the conservation of forests, the two-day event will have sessions on forest resource management and regulation, forest asset tracking, monitoring, evaluation and accounting, citizen services and mobile governance and digitisation of forest boundaries.

Sharing his views on e-governance and technology in forest management, Ranganath said management of forests involved the understanding that forest ecology is surrounded by the lives of several communities.

Roping in the local government and exploring the role of panchayats will enrich efforts towards conservation. “We need to learn from other models of conservation and make sure we are not reinventing the wheel,” he said.

In spite of the significance of technology, e-government is not a substitute for dedicated work. Also, making use of technology is not just about putting in place expensive gadgets. Officials involved must consider the value for money while employing high-end gadgets, he added.

‘Strike a balance’

Additional Chief Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee said governments must strike a balance between economic development and conservation of ecology. “We have to look at the possibilities that will help us preserve the ecology. We have to make agro-forestry a viable model.”

While forest management was necessary, he said, too much intervention could have an adverse effect. He encouraged forest officials to visit the field often.

“Many officers  would have never visited a forest. The GPS does not match a good pair of legs,” he remarked.

Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation was also part of the event.

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