Earlier, addressing the press conference, Sambhu Singh said Forest Department has embarked on a major campaign to save forest and its wealth and as an endeavour to make the State green, DM College and Khuman Lampak Sports complex will be converted to green zones by planting trees. The department is also trying to make the Keibul Lamjao National Park a world heritage site and works have started for it by clearing all encroachers and defining its exact territory. There is a strong need of preserving and conserving forests and to adapt to the environment.
Highlighting the achievements of the department, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest PN Prasad said the Langol reserved forest will be freed of all encroachers. Forest management was directly controlled by Kings of Manipur who gave the land to the local chiefs in return of revenue and services. Manipur Durbar formed Department of Forest in 1931 and State forest management was done under Durbar Resolution. Since 1962-63 the department came under the charge of a Minister.
The abundance in the diversity of the forests and its resources are attributed to the ideal location of the State in the junction of world’s two bio-diversity hotspots, the Indo-Myanmar hotspot and the Himalayan hotspot. The forest cover of the state is 16,994 sq km which is 76.11 percent of the State’s total area. The tree cover of the State is 243 sq km. About 721 sq km is under very dense forest cover and 5426 sq km under moderately dense forest area. The area under reserved forests including Wildlife Protected area network is 1,467 sq km. An area of 4,171 sq kms is recorded as protected forests and the rest as unclassed.
Manipur is the only State in the Northeast where the entire forests are managed under the Working Plans prepared under National Working Plan Code 2004, he said.
The State has six major forest types and ten sub types. Majority of the population in the hill districts are directly or indirectly dependent upon the forests for their livelihood. The department has urged village chiefs not to sell away forest area to contractors who fell all the trees and the plants without caring for the forest area.
Due to scarcity of water there is a greater awareness for conservation of forests. This year within this month of July, the entire DM College and Khuman Lampak Sports complex will be made green areas as part of conservation of Vanamahotsava. The observation this year will be on the theme, “one family, one tree”.
Manipur has two hotspots out of four in the country and 34 in the world. Manipur has unique distinction of possessing flora and fauna from the Himalaya to Manipur on one side to China.
Forests in hill areas are under stress due to shifting cultivation and illegal felling and extraction of other forest produces. Deforestation in the hill areas has led to soil erosion, landslides and siltation of rivers.The department is trying to maintain a balance between conservation and fulfilling people’s need. The department is trying to evolve a people friendly mechanism to reduce jhum cultivation as it can’t be stopped.
The Keibul Lamjao National park was declared as a Ramsar site and the population of Sangai is increasing. The State has also Shiroi Lily National park, Yangoupokpi Lokchao wildlife sanctuary, Kailam Wildlife sanctuary , Jiri- Makru wildlife sanctuary, Buning wildlife Sanctuary and Zeilad wild life sanctuary, some of which are now under final stages of constitution. About 788.10 sq km area falls under the conservation sites. Manipur Zoological garden and Orchid preservation centre managed by the department cover 1.18 sq km.
The Keibul Lamjao National Park has been declared as an eco sensitive zone and the government is trying to make the park as a World Heritage Park. The forests of Manipur have been classified as floristic composition, altitudinal variation , tropical semi-ever green and sub tropical pine forests. Forest Conservation Act, 1980 was enacted to control diversion of forest land for non-forestry purposes. Prior approval from the central government is required to take up works in the forest land. During 2015-16 ten cases of forest land diversion were cleared by the central and the state governments.
Forest Department is no longer considered a revenue earning organization and more emphasis is given on conservation of environment and natural resources. This year Rs 370.58 lakh was collected as revenue. This year 25 state plan schemes were taken up with an outlay of Rs 1159 lakh. The department also took up six centrally sponsored schemes, National Afforestation Programme, National Bamboo Mission, Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitat, Development of Orchid Preservation centre at Khonghampat and Green India Mission. The total expenditure for 2015-16 is Rs 7220.36 lakh.