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Select Good Quality Land Near Project Site For Compensatory Afforestation: Government Panel To States

Compensatory afforestation can also be raised on degraded land, twice in extent of the forest area diverted, in case of the projects implemented by the central government or public sector undertakings.

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Select Good Quality Land Near Project Site For Compensatory Afforestation: Government Panel To States
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A Union Environment Ministry panel has asked states to offer good quality land for raising compensatory afforestation and ensure that such land is selected in the close proximity of the area being diverted for non-forestry work.

According to the guidelines issued under the Forest Conservation Act, compensatory afforestation is to be raised on suitable non-forest land, equivalent to the area proposed for diversion, at the cost of the user agency.

Compensatory afforestation can also be raised on degraded land, twice in extent of the forest area diverted, in case of the projects implemented by the central government or public sector undertakings.

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At a meeting held on June 13, the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) observed that land for compensatory afforestation is generally selected without giving due consideration to guidelines issued by the ministry which provide that “as far as possible, the CA land should be selected in the close vicinity of the forest area proposed for diversion and only in cases where such land is not available in the close vicinity, alternative land in nearby district should be selected".

The panel also said that in lieu of good quality forest land diverted for non-forestry purpose, inferior quality land is generally offered for compensatory afforestation and that's too at distant isolated and fragmented locations, making its management by the Forest Department a difficult task and ultimately leading to slow restoration of ecosystem goods and services (EG&S) foregone.

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"Land offered for compensatory afforestation is an important component of the proposal and good quality land should be selected in the close proximity of forest land to compensate for the maximum loss of EG&S being foregone from the forest land,” it observed.

After deliberating with senior officials of the ministry, the committee recommended that the authorities in states should ensure that land proposed for raising CA is of good quality which is able to generate and compensate EG&S lost from non-forestry use and as far as permissible, such land should be selected in the close proximity of area being diverted to ease their management by the Forest Department and ensure their protection from likely encroachment in future.

"Potential areas which can generate and compensate the ecosystem goods and services foregone from the non-forestry use of forest land, to the maximum extent possible, should be identified and offered for raising compensatory afforestation,” it said.

The panel has asked the integrated regional offices of the ministry to certify the suitability of land offered for compensatory afforestation in terms of its vicinity to the area proposed for diversion and/or contiguity with the existing forest area.

(With PTI inputs)

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