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| Last Updated:04/12/2018

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Himachal Pradesh has 4.8% of India's forest cover

SHIMLA: Out of total 55,673 sq km geographic area in the state, the forest comprises 37,033 sq km, which is 4.80% of total forests in the country. According to Forest Survey of India report 2013, the state had 14,683 sq km area green cover, which was only 11,780 sq km in the year 1991 thus due to intensive plantation programmes, the state's green cover has swelled by over 2,900 sq km in the past 22 years, an official said on Monday. He said plantation has been carried out on 29,745 hectares in the past two fiscals.

In view of further expansion of green cover, the state government has fixed the target of bringing 8,712.45 hectares of additional area under forests by spending Rs 45 crore under various schemes during the current financial year.

The forest department aims to plant 1,00,000 saplings of "shahtoot", "jamun", "saru", "shisham", "sapheda", "pipal", "deodar" and "neem" alongside roads constructed under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna. Workers under MGNREGS will be involved in the project.

In addition to this, he said, 45 lakh medicinal plants would also be planted. Forest ponds have immense importance in maintaining the land humidity besides being helpful in extinguishing forest fires. The ponds are associated with the livelihood of rural communities and catering to the water needs of wild animals. A total of 100 forest ponds are being constructed during this fiscal while a total of 405 ponds have been constructed across the state.

In addition, to tackle the issues related to climate change in an effective manner, the state government has started HP Forest Eco-System Climate Proofing, a German Development Bank project of Rs 310 crore on Kangra and Chamba. Besides, the government is pursuing two more projects to increase the state's green cover.

According to senior officials from the forest department, the German aided project is one-of-its-kind and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has already been signed for two million Euros. Funds allotted would be utilized on forest officials' training programmes and development of local communities.

What's more, the state government has prepared and submitted a project named 'HP Forest Eco-System Management and Livelhood Project' to Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for obtaining financial aid of Rs 1,507 crore and this project would be implemented in 10 districts of the state.

The World Bank-aided Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Project's amount has increased from Rs 365 crore to Rs 630.76 crore and the term period has also been extended up to March 31, 2016. This project is being implemented in 710 panchayats of the state after bringing 102 new panchayats under the same. Rs 60 crore is being spent during the current fiscal in these panchayats, official added.