Now, GPS to aid afforestation project

Now, GPS to aid afforestation project

Farmers are being given seedlings at subsidised rates

Now, GPS to aid afforestation project

The National Forest Policy states that 33 per cent of a geographical area should be under forest cover but in Karnataka, it is only 22 per cent.

To increase this, the forest department is giving seedlings to farmers at subsidised rates and is keeping a tab on the plantations using GPS (Global Positioning System) technology.

Explaining the concept, a senior department official told Deccan Herald that under the Krishi Aranya Protsaha Yojane, the department gives seedlings to farmers at highly subsidised rates of Re one, Rs three and Rs five, depending upon the age of a seedling.

Once these seedlings are planted, the area is GPS-mapped and put on Google maps. The area is then physically examined every year and based on the rate of survival of the saplings, farmers are given financial incentive.

They are also given permanent ownership of these trees and its yield such as timber and fruits.

“This was started in the year 2011 and so far the success rate of the survival of the saplings has been satisfactory. During the first year of assessment in 2012, the success rate was 45 per cent and in 2013 it dropped to 40 per cent due to drought. This monsoon season, the demand for seedlings has been higher compared to previous years. This could be because of the incentive and benefits which farmers are gradually realising,” the official said.

The department is supplying seedlings across the State, but the demand is more on the outskirts of Bangalore city. The areas where the demand is on the rise are Hoskote, Devanahalli and Nelmanagala taluks in Bangalore Rural district, Ramanagara in Ramanagara district. The other dry areas in the State which will gain are Gulbarga, Bellary, Raichur and Bidar.

The demand is not only from farmers but also from large property owners. For farm lands, there are no restrictions but in case of individual property areas, the minimum number of seedlings to be planted is 400. The demand for Jamoon (Nerle Hannu), Mango, Chikoo (Sapota), Neem (Bevu), Silver Oak, Casuarina, Melia dubia,Teak and Sandalwood is high. The official pointed that the idea behind introducing this concept was to increase the forest cover, reduce the burden on the forests and its produce.

Also, most importantly, the aim is to reduce man- animal conflict. It has always been seen that animals straying out of the forest areas destroy crops and farm lands. Further, farmers, apart from crop cultivation have an alternative which will fetch them short and long term returns, the officer said.

Forest and Ecology Minister Ramanath Rai said that there was a lot of pressure on the forest lands across Karnataka for development. He said that the forest cover in the State had depleted by 23 per cent and the GPS mapping was one way to increase the green cover.

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