SOCIAL FORESTRY [DIV. POONCH]
- Social Forestry Department started as World Bank aided Social Forestry Project in J&K as in 1981-82, initially for a period of 5 years, later extended up to 1990-91, since then the Project works continued as an activity under the State funding to provide Fuel wood, Fodder, Small Timber & other MFP for basic requirement of the rural poor.
- In 2001 the Organization created under the World Bank assistance was decided to be closed down & remained in the process of winding up till 10/2004 with a very low capital component. In 2004 the Organization was converted into a full-fledged Department.
- The Social Forestry Division Poonch is situated on the S-Western part of the J&K having its HQ at Poonch, functioning since 1986. Prior to this, it was part of Social Forestry Division Rajouri. The Division boundaries concede with the boundary of Poonch District. The Division is bounded on the west by the Cease fire line and in the North and East by Pir Panjal Range and in the South by the Social Forestry Division Rajouri.
- The Division comprises of 2 Social Forestry Ranges i.e Social Forestry Range Poonch & SF Range Surankote.
- During initial years of its activity, Division started tackling of degraded Forests lands/ State Lands. However with the passage of time when locals started getting benefits in the form of fodder, fuel wood, grasses etc from the treated area under Social Forestry, they started offering community lands voluntarily.
- In view of Devolution of Powers to the Panchayats, Village Panchayat Plantation Committees (VPPCs) with concerning Sarpanch as Ex-Officio Chairman are being revived for involving theme in identification, establishment, protection & management of Social Forestry Plantations as well as involving them in various Plantation Drives of the Department for greater participation & awareness generation regarding Tree Planation & Forest Conservation.
- Presently 228 Village Plantation Committees (VPPCs) have been re-constituted & working in the Division. The recently constituted VPPCs are being actively involved at all levels right from identification of lands upto the distribution of benefits amongst locals along with involving them during various Plantation Drives for greater participation & awareness generation.
MANDATE OF SOCIAL FORESTRY
- Rehabilitation of Degraded Forests (RDF) by establishing RDF Units/Closures.
- Raising of Village Wood Lots (VWL) over Waste land, Community land, State land etc.
- Raising of Strip Plantations alongside Roads, Canals etc.
- Farm Forestry –Raising & Distributions of plants on subsidized rate.
- Avenue/Institutional Plantations.
- Nursery Raising/Plant Production.
GOALS OF SOCIAL FORESTRY
- Greening Jammu & Kashmir.
- Improving Environment in the region.
- Generating Employment.
- Reducing Pressure on Natural Forests.
- Conserving the Natural Forests.
- Extending Tree Cover Outside Forests.
- Environmental Awareness Generation.
- Mobilizing Community Participation through JFM (Joint Forest Management).
- SITE SELECTION: – Plantation Units in the form of RDF Units, VWLs, Strips alongside Roads etc are established at the sites/locations selected carefully for the purpose of treatment of degraded area accordingly site specific interventions are proposed for Afforestation/Reforestation.
- FENCING: – Fencing of the area selected is carried out using PCC Fence Posts & Barbed Wire. The fencing of the area to be treated prevents human-animal interference in the area thereby preventing disturbance & trampling of the planted/natural grown saplings & also helps in preventing area from being encroached. This also promotes natural regeneration in the area as well as better protection of the planted/natural grown saplings till they establishes well.
- PLANTING: – In the fenced/enclosed area Saplings of different species suited to the area is planted using different planting techniques. Some species are raised through Patch sowing, Dibbling, cutting etc.
- USUFRUCT SHARING:– From the fenced/enclosed area usufruct in the form of grasses, firewood & fodder etc is distributed/supplied to the locals in a controlled manner to meet out their demand.
- ACHIEVEMENTS: – Number of Plantation units has been established by Social Forestry over the degraded state land/wastelands which have added to tree cover outside forests. Besides this Social Forestry has also planted trees in various institutions of the district over the years which are adding to the scenic beauty as well as betterment of environment of the area. This all has leads to overall improvement in ecology & environment of the area/region over the years.