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Assam to focus on plantation drives
- 7 lakh saplings planted in five years

Guwahati, July 1: The Assam forest department plans to take up more plantation drives to increase the forest cover in the state.

Speaking on the concept and importance of Van Mahotsav Week, which is observed from July 1 to 7, state forest minister Rockybul Hussain today said the plantation drives undertaken in the past five years would yield results in the future.

The minister said seven lakh saplings have been planted in the past five years.

“There was no plantation drive between 1991 and 2000 and there has been a huge backlog for which we had to speed up,” Hussain said.

The present forest cover of Assam according to the State of Forest Report, 2009, is 35.03 per cent.

The report also said there was a loss of 66 square km in the overall forest cover of the state.

It said there was a decrease of 3 square km of very dense forest, loss of 66 square km of moderately dense forest and an increase of 32 square km in open forest.

The minister said climate change because of global warming was not reversible now but planting more trees could minimise its effect as forests act as carbon sinks — reservoirs that can absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The department has asked all social forestry ranges to plant 500 seedlings in educational institutions and other important places while territorial ranges will have to plant saplings in 10 hectares.

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said the growing realisation of importance of conserving forests was one of the most positive developments in Assam of late.

“Exploiting natural resources in an extreme way benefits some but in the long run they and their next generation will suffer,” said Gogoi.

He said the movement towards deeper commitment to protect the environment through planting new trees and taking care of the existing one was rapidly gaining momentum all over Assam, which is evident from the successful implementation of various schemes.

As part of the Van Mohatsav Week, the Kokrajhar social forestry division today distributed over 1,000 saplings at a programme held at Kokrajhar main town near Government Higher Secondary School.

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