Srinagar: Waking up to the global climate change, the Jammu and Kashmir government is planning to create Urban forests near city and town areas.
Frequency of extreme weather events coupled with erratic rainfall and increased daily temperatures over the last few years. Experts fear it will not only affect agriculture crop yield and nutritional quality but also the sustainability of towns and cities.
To make cities more climate resilient, the government has decided to create green spaces near cities and towns under the Nagar Van (City forests) initiative.
Conservator of Forests, Kashmir South Circle, Irfan Ali Shah told The Kashmir Monitor that the Nagar Van initiative aims to contribute to the environmental improvement of cities and towns by pollution mitigation, providing cleaner air, noise reduction, water harvesting, biodiversity conservation, and recreation-based forestry.
“The forests in Kashmir are generally 15-20 km away from the city and towns. The people here are usually not able to reap benefits which accrue from forest cover,” Shah said.
He said keeping this in view, the government has sanctioned two Nagar Van projects each for Jammu and Kashmir.
“Under this initiative, we have identified 30 hectares of open forest land in the Dooru area of Anantnag Forest Division. We are planning to grow trees like Deodar, Kail, fir, broad-leaved, and fruit trees in the identified land,” he said.
Moreover, this concept of Urban forests, according to Shah, has multiple benefits. “It is not only about growing trees. We will create a water harvesting structure, an amusement park for the children, walking trails; theme based environmental park, a medicinal plant garden, and a Nature interpretation center to create awareness on environmental issues for local people and school and college students.”
He said, historically, Dooru is a water deficit area. “We are hoping that the water harvesting structures will serve a greater purpose there. We are also creating Amrit Sarovars and rejuvenating the existing ponds inside forest areas for the benefit of both people and biodiversity,” he said.
Principal Chief Conservator Forests and Head of the Forest Force Dr. Mohit Gera said South Kashmir provides a huge opportunity for citizen-centric Forestry interventions
“It is blessed with rich natural resources, water bodies, and lush green forests. It’s time that the benefits of these forests should be extended to the people in the town areas of South Kashmir. Besides, Vans are part of the Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav initiative of the Government.
Commissioner Secretary, Forest, Environment & Ecology, Sanjeev Verma said: “Nagar Vans are for the benefit of people and forests at large. This is in sync with our continuous efforts like the flagship Green J&K drive for the greening of cities and towns,” he said.