In the backdrop of the essential need for maintaining a healthy forest resource, the valid concern for its continued depletion and degradation, and, being aware of the close association between people and forests, the Forest Department (Government of Jammu and Kashmir), has recently adopted a Forest Policy.
Forests are essential for soil conservation, water security, and for meeting the needs of local population for timber, firewood, fodder and other forest produce. Forests of Jammu and Kashmir exhibit remarkable diversity ranging from sub-tropical to temperate to alpine because of the distinctive geo-climatic conditions prevalent in the State.
The basic objectives of the State Forest Policy of Jammu and Kashmir are as follows -
- Conservation of biodiversity and natural habitat through preservation of natural forests with the vast variety of flora and fauna.
- Rehabilitation of degraded forests so as to optimize their productivity and restore their potential to provide ecosystem goods and services on sustainable basis.
- Poverty alleviation by meeting livelihood needs of forest dependent communities through sustainable supply of forest produce by improving productivity of existing forests, and through forestry activities, schemes and programmes.
- Extending tree cover outside forests to reduce pressure on natural forests for supply of forest produce.
- Checking denudation and soil erosion in catchments through integrated watershed management techniques and practices.
- Maintenance of the health of forest vegetation and forest soils for augmenting water supplies through recharge of underground aquifers and regulation of surface water flows, sediment levels and water quality.
- Optimally utilising the mitigation and adaptation potential of forests in the context of climate change.
- Reducing pressure on forests through appropriate interventions including development of forest fringe belt into high production tree strips.
- Utilisation of natural resources using best management practices including development of non-timber forest produce and institutionalization and operationalization of concepts of eco-tourism and nature tourism.
- Creating a sustained people’s movement for achieving the aforementioned objectives, so that environmental security is ensured.
Since forests influence, and in-turn are influenced by activities and functions of different departments like Revenue, Tourism, Sheep and Animal Husbandry, Agriculture, Horticulture, Industry, Irrigation and Flood Control, Public Works Department etc, necessary steps will be taken to ensure that the policies, objectives and activities of different departments and organizations of the State are in harmony with the objectives enshrined in the State Forest Policy, and conflicts, wherever these exist, will be resolved appropriately.
The Forest Department will prepare an implementation schedule for realizing the objectives of this policy. A high powered institutional mechanism will be put in place to monitor and review the implementation of the policy.