ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Towards Humane Forest Conservation

Towards Humane Forest Conservation Community Forest Management in Protected Areas: Van Gujjars Proposal for the Rajaji Area, (Foreward by Justice P N Bhagwati); Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra, Natraj Publishers, DehraDun, 1997; pp 336, price

"The sun and the moon and the stars would have disappeared long ago...had they happened to be within the reach of predatory human hands”, thus goes on old saying. If one looked at the forest cover in India over the last few decades, one would realise the truth of that adage. In 1950-51, 14.5 per cent of the land mass of India had forest cover. After vesting of all private and feudatory states forests in the state it stood at 22 per cent in 1984-85. In the whole of 1980s and 1990s there was a massive public investment for afforestation of degraded land, social forestry and tree farming. Yet the State of the Forest Report, 1995, relating to data of the period 1991-93 shows a decline in the forest cover to 19.45 per cent. Compared to the rest of the Asia-Pacific region which lost 88 per cent of its forest, we are certainly better off. But that is poor consolation.

Predatory and avaricious human beings are destroying forests for their private and/or corporate gain and profit. Globally, it is estimated that more than 1,000 plant species are disappearing from the planet every year. India has 45,000 recorded wild species of plants and 81,000 species of animals. It is feared that 10 per cent of these plants and 21 per cent of the mammals are threatened in India (p 21). Though according to the Bible ‘God created man in his own image’, a section of human kind has no compunction in destroying god’s other creations like plants, herbs, animals and even a specimen of its own kind for selfish interest.

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