'Large-scale forest tracts cleared during lockdown'

Large-scale forest tracts cleared during Covid-19 lockdown in Karnataka: Biodiversity Board

In the Balur Reserve Forest near Kottigehara, more than 472 large trees have been cut down in the last two weeks

The letter listed out the extent of damage in different areas and sought an investigation to find the culprits. Credit: iStock Photo

The Karnataka Biodiversity Board has flagged large-scale destruction of forests and encroachment of hundreds of acres during the lockdown as officials of different departments were focusing on fighting the pandemic.

In a brief report submitted to the forest minister, chairman of the board Ananth Hegde Ashisar said that hundreds of acres of forest have been destroyed in Chikkamagaluru and Shivamogga districts over the last three weeks.

Ashisar stated that the excavators and electric equipment were being used to clear large trees in several places spread across the two districts. “The forest minister should visit the areas immediately to put an end to the violation of laws enacted to protect the forest, wildlife and biodiversity,” he said, adding that senior officials in the forest department should conduct a survey to estimate the damage and punish the culprits. 

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The letter listed out the extent of damage in different areas and sought an investigation to find the culprits. It urged officials to set up camps to keep watch on forests.

The chairman said 480 acres of forest had been destroyed in 12 places near Hogarekanugiri, a hill at Vagarehalli near Birur which was recognised as a biodiversity hotspot.

In the Balur Reserve Forest near Kottigehara, more than 472 large trees have been cut down in the last two weeks. Forest has been cleared in Basarikatte and Devagoda villages in Koppa taluk. 

In Shivamogga, many trees in the 540-acre Halesoraba Devarakanu were felled. He said over the last few years, the forest had attracted scientists from across the country due to its rich diversity of trees.

Forests were also destroyed in several villages near Anavatti in Sorab, Sagar, Hosanagar and Teerthahalli taluks.

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