Jharkhand on Monday became the first state to distribute forest soil health cards to all the forest divisional officers to plan forestation drives suited to the local needs.
Additional chief secretary of forest, environment and climate change, L. Khiangte, made this announcement on Monday evening at a seminar hosted by the forest department in Ranchi on the occasion of World Soil Day.
“Today, the fertile capacity of the soil is rapidly decreasing due to land degradation of our earth. Along with this, the greenery is decreasing day by day and the fertile land is shrinking. It is a global crisis and the whole world is very worried about increasing soil erosion and degradation. The forest department of Jharkhand is also worried about this adverse condition of the earth and is trying to create public awareness for land and soil conservation,” said Khiangte.
The senior bureaucrat further added: “It is for the first time in the whole country, that forest soil health cards have been distributed to all the forest divisional officers in Jharkhand (earlier only agricultural lands soil health cards were made).”
The Ranchi-based Institute of Forest Productivity (IFP) released the forest soil health cards of the state on Friday. The soil health card was made upon the direction of the Union ministry of forest and environment and soon such soil health cards will be made for other states.
Chief technical officer of IFP, Sambhu Nath Mishra, informed that the study will provide information on soil quality parameters which will be useful for the forest officials for sustainable management of forests, plantation growers to identify suitable places for growing trees with respect to soil quality and ultimately its benefits will reach the rural people living near the forests.
“The forest soil health card will be very useful to identify the soil constraints of the area,” Mishra said.
A senior forest official said that soil health cards have been distributed amongst divisional forest officers in 31 territorial forest divisions (including three wildlife divisions).
Significantly, the forest soil health card report indicated that nearly 69 per cent of the soil in Jharkhand’s forest areas has turned unfit for plant growth due to acute deficiency of nitrogen.
“There is a major deficiency of nitrogen, which is vital for plant growth, in the forest soil of the state. The presence of nitrogen in the non-degraded forest should be around 258kg per hectare, but we find it at an average of 140kg per hectare in Jharkhand’s forest soil,” said Mishra.