On World Environment Day, the Chief Minister of Goa Dr. Pramod Sawant gives a gift of 100 waterholes and 5 lakh tree plantations in the forests of Goa. He has announced that the state would create 100 new water bodies and plant 5 lakh fruit trees in its forests. This comes as part of the government’s measures to reduce human-animal conflict.
Earlier, environment minister Nilesh Cabral had launched ‘Ecosystem Restoration’ as the theme for the year 2021-2030. As part of this initiative, Dr. Pramod Sawant launched a three-month-long state-wide programme of distributing free saplings. 23 nurseries from across the state will aid in distributing saplings of ornamental, medicinal, and commercial trees to encourage the habit of tree plantation.
The theme of the decade, Ecosystem Restoration aims at assisting ecosystems that have been lost or degraded. This may be done either through actively planting saplings or by removing pressures so that nature can recover on its own.
However, it is not always possible, or even desirable to return an ecosystem to its original state. Returning farmlands and infrastructure to the forest it once was, will not be possible. However, protecting the existing forests is possible and is crucial too.
The Chief Minister also launched a Web Portal for the Forest Department to facilitate the registration of farmers and other landowners so as to exempt commercial tree plantation areas and all the trees raised henceforth on private nonforest areas for economic benefits. He termed this as a step towards self-reliance or ‘Swayampurna Goa’.
World Environment Day saw him release a book entitled “Trees of Panaji”, by botanist PhD Scholar Shri Arjun Aditya which provides information on around 134 trees. Apart from this, he also released a brochure ‘The Magical Immunity Herbs’ brought out by Goa State Medicinal Plant Board.
This year, the CM announced there will be 250 youths who have been trained as nature guides, to inform and educate the people about the rich biodiversity of the forests. There will be 50 ‘Vaidya Mitras’ who work to harvest herbs from the forest. In addition to this, the state aims to educate and highlight the importance of the rich bio-diversity of the forests by organizing special events like Bird Festival, Turtle Conservation event, and more.
The human-animal conflict has been an issue in Goan forests for some time now. Steps had been taken earlier too, like the phasing out of the Australian Acacia, the growth of which was believed to have led to animals straying into the villages, in search of food. So, on the occasion of Environment Day, he announced that a total of Rs 10 lakh has been given as compensation to those farmers who had to bear the brunt of this conflict.
It is encouraging that a state leader is concerned about the trees in the forest. Even last year, during his Liberation Day speech, he had stressed the importance of striking a balance between development and the environment. As the government itself cannot do everything to help restore the ecosystem, we as citizens too should do our bit. A gesture of goodwill, or a peace offering to those riling under the rampant felling of trees in the state, definitely seems to be the right step in the right direction.