The India State of Forest Report-2009 has concluded that the presence of Maoists in forest areas of Jharkhand deter widespread tree felling that has been the norm in certain remote areas. The report arrived at this conclusion after comparing the current forest cover, based on satellite data of October-December 2006, with the previous assessment based on data collated in November-December 2004.
The report also praised the initiative of joint forest management committees, a strategy under which the forest department and village protection committees enter into an agreement to jointly protect and manage forest land adjoining villages and to share responsibilities as well as benefits.
The report pointed out that the recorded forest area of Jharkhand was 23,605 sqkm, 29.61 per cent of the total geographical area. Reserve forest constituted 18.58 per cent of the total area, while protected forests constituted 81.82 per cent.
Apart from the village committees, the presence of Naxalites in various forest areas of Jharkhand proved to be a boon in disguise. And if village protection committees were instrumental in protecting forests, the forest department acted as facilitator.
“The joint effort of village protection committees and the forest department led to the increase in green cover. The presence of rebels also kept at bay those involved in tree felling,” confirmed C.R. Sahay, the principal chief conservator of forest.