Delhi to get ‘working plan’ for upkeep of its forests

DELHI :For the first time in over two decades, Delhi will get a ‘working management plan’ for its forests, which will act as a reference for all agencies involved in upkeep of the capital’s green cover, a senior forest official said Monday.

The Forest Research Institute (FRI), Uttarakhand, has accepted the Delhi forest department’s request to create the plan, and will send a team to conduct the study soon.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Ishwar Singh told The Indian Express that other states already have such a plan in place, but the capital has not had one since at least 1996. “Delhi’s forest cover is increasing and we have been planting many saplings. This plan would help us determine the quantity and quality of their growth, in addition to quantifying several other factors such as the soil we have conserved,” he said.

The FRI will factor in the density of green cover, the type of flora and fauna that exists in forests, their present level of degradation, retention of water in soil and its conservation.

Officials estimate it would take around one year for the plan to be drafted. After preliminary data is collected, the institute will hold discussions with the forest department and other agencies to determine measures for improvement and management.

These measures would be factored into the plan, which would be adhered to for at least a decade, officials said. They added that this could include measures such as building check dams to conserve soil in forests. The plan will then have to be approved by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEF&CC), following which it would act as a “prescription” for management of forests in the capital.

The FRI team supposed to carry out the study would include soil scientists, botanists, zoologists and IFS officers. “Since Delhi has not had a management study of this kind in the past, the team would have to start from scratch… The forest department also comes out with an annual plan, but the (FRI) plan would put everything in one place,” Singh said.