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Managing our Lands

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By S Paul

The write up, ‘Woodland buffers……..in forest edge’, by V Pendharkar in GP dated 10 January is very professional and though heavy in matter is very educative and thought provoking. Land use management is extremely important for our administrators and town developers. Naturally, a land mass develops itself according to the climate to sustain ‘life’. Generally ‘life’ exists in many forms from insects to birds to animals to reptiles to micro organisms to aquatic creatures to plants to homo-sapiens. It is for us, the most intelligent life form, to help other species to coexist and not become extinct or rare. Therefore it becomes imperative that we consider the essentiality of land use management.
In more economically advanced nations, including the East Asian ones like Japan and Korea, they plan and maintain huge green parks within the precincts of their cities. Such acres of greens within their jungle of concrete gives a breathing space for the humans as well as other life species like birds, squirrels, vixen, butterflies and some fenced in animals, too. Go around the English countryside and one can come across thick groves of trees among acres of agricultural fields or pastures. I remember having seen in our own country in the northern plains, groves of trees having even fruit trees, surrounded with miles of ploughed and cultivated fields, which the farmers used to escape the summer sun along with their cattle and providing shelter to birds and some wild animals, too. Such a system has almost disappeared in our country as more money-minded farmers now line their fields with Eucalyptus or Poplar trees to sell them to paper and match making factories.
In Dehradun valley and surrounding hills, we have a natural abundance of primary forests. Which, despite being declared ‘reserved’, have been encroached upon, ransacked and denuded of many a natural product that was sustaining birds and animals. When hungry, these species have started venturing into human habitats. Thus causing Man-Animal conflicts. By interfering in the natural cycle, we create a great upset in the sharing of space and resources provided by nature to sustain all kinds of life. Therefore, this article by such a knowledgeable writer is indicative that we need very serious and immediate research in restoring the natural balance. One that I can think of is the deliberately planned planting of trees. From the next tree planting mahotsava (Harela), with the help of forest department, let us plant a considerable number of fruit and seed bearing trees deep inside the surrounding forests and hills so that birds and some animals like monkeys, langurs, squirrels, etc., do not have to forage for food in human habitats. And once these living beings in the food chain are available in the forest, it would help contain other carnivorous animals within the forests. Even planting of tall grasses like bamboo and sugar cane, etc., would prevent Elephants from plundering agricultural fields and cross railway lines and get killed.
These, my thoughts, may be amateurish in the matters of animal and forest management, but I hope that it would instigate and prompt NGOs and individuals to act in such a direction and help reduce Man-Animal conflict. Also help make our own environment more healthy and attractive for tourism. Our habitats do not need just residential and commercial structures but vast swathes of green in between to act as purifier for our polluted atmosphere. Authorities also must strictly bring about a sense among us Bharatiye to learn to live in a ‘home’ and not to convert it for any commercial purposes. The way shops, etc., crop up with impunity on all roads-lanes-gullies has to be curbed and we citizens must learn to take the trouble to walk or visit planned commercial complexes for our needs instead of desiring a ‘shop next door’. We also must be made to understand the benefit of systematic parking in proper places some distance away and walk to the bazaar. That, in real sense, would be progressive rather than becoming unhealthy rich and dependent on artificial means to stay fit which puts us out of touch with Mother Nature.