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Preserving the Nature with People’s Participation!

Forest area of Gujarat is about 10% of its geographical area and Gujarat is a home of rarest species like Wild ass, Asiatic Lions, Whale Sharks and some winter migratory birds. The state enjoys great climatic and geomorphologic conditions, like it has the longest coastline in India, the salty deserts of Rann, grasslands and wetlands. It consists of 14% of fishes, 18% of reptiles, 37% of avifauna and 25% of the mammal population of the country. The state government continuously strives to increase the forest area through various programmes and preserves these species with the help of local citizens.

Conserving the Asiatic Lions:

Conserving the Asiatic lions with people participation is one of the prominent initiatives of Gujarat.

Few Spectacular initiatives for Lion conservation

  • A special package sanctioned for Brihad Gir area which has components such as forming Gir Conservation Society,
  • Established 321 eco development committees and 300 ecoclubs, appointing 364 Wild Life Mitras
  • Increase in death and injury compensation by over 50%
  • Developing lion gene pool at Rampara
  • Developed alternate home for lion at Barda
  • Establishing genomic and DNA bank for the lion

This Resulted into:

  • Rise in the number of lions 2.5 times i.e. from less than 180 in 1968 to 411 in 2010.
  • Also their distribution range has expanded in the three districts-Junagadh, Amreli and Bhavnagar.

“The King is slowly but surely regaining its lost kingdom in the Gir forest of Gujarat!”

Conserving the Whale Sharks:

A Similar experience has been in conserving the whale shark. This fish comes for breeding in large numbers near the Saurashtra coast. Earlier, due to heavy demand for its meat and oil, it used to be killed in large numbers. But recently over 284 whale sharks have been saved in the seven years (2004-2011) after the campaign started.

The species only found in the Little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat – The Wild Ass:

With the tireless efforts of the state government in conserving the Wild Ass, in just over four decades, the numbers have grown from a merely 369 in 1969 to over 4000 in 2008, a rise of over 10 times over a period of 3.5 decades is by any standards a huge jump.

Besides, The Wild Ass Sanctuary of Little Rann of Kutch, has been shortlisted by UNESCO to enter in the list of World Heritage sites.

The Rising Mangrove Cover:

With the help of people’s participation Gujarat has ensured rising mangrove cover.Mangrove cover has increased from less than 400 sq km in 1993 to over 1058 sq km in 2011 as per the Forest Survey of India reports; a two and a half fold increase in just under two decades.

Augmentation in the trees outside forest area through Van Mahotsav:

Gujarat has raised 9 cultural forests as part of Van Mahotsav celebrated at different parts of the state since past 9 years. One of the key strategies of rising number of trees outside forests is the appeal to the religious sentiments of the people by raising cultural trees (Vans).

In 1970s Kheda (now Nadiad and Anand districts), Mehsana, and Gandhinagar had very less number of trees but the canal irrigation and social forestry programmes by the state government have changed the landscape in these districts making them amongst the greenest districts in the country, having a tree density of over 50 trees per hectare outside the forest, with Anand having a tree density of 68 trees per hectare. With 416 trees for every 100 people, Gandhinagar is now known as the “tree capital” of the nation.

Results:

Rise in number of trees outside forest during the period of 2003-09, from 251 million to 269 million at an annual growth rate of 2.9 million trees.

Tree cover of 7, 837 sq.km. which is 4 % of geographical area outside forest is not only high among the states of India but it is also higher than the national average of 2.76 % of the geographical area.

Also, as per the Central Statistical organization (CSO, 2010), the annual contribution of the Trees Outside Forests (TOF) to the State economy in terms of timber alone was about Rs 4,052 crores and the timber production including poles from non forest areas is estimated at 23.1 lakh cmt. Due to this many timber conversion units have come up in Gujarat, generating employment and value added products.

Welcoming the Migratory Birds:

As the winters approach millions of birds across North America prepare for one of nature’s great events: the autumn migration to warm winter climate.

Among all states In India, the extent and diversity of wetlands are maximum In Gujarat. The share of wetlands of Gujarat is 34,750 sq. km which is 14.1% of the State’s geographical area.

Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, Khijadia Bird Sanctuary, Thol Bird Sanctuary, and Porbandar Bird Sanctuary are the places in Gujarat where some of the rarest Bird species are found. Rosy Pelicans, Flamnigoes, White Storks, Purple Herons, Kingfishers, Green Pigeons etc. are some of the notable Bird species found at Nal Sarovar Bird Sancturay. Recently Nalsrovar Bird Sanctuary had received a recognition from Ramsar Convention.

In a view to promote eco tourism in Gujarat Shri Modi says “Gujarat has a high level of biodiversity. It is blessed with a huge seacoast, Gulf of Kutch, islands and a variety of local and foreign birds. And so, the state government desires to develop eco tourism and to promote tourism activities for the bird viewers in the state.”

The state government firmly believes that growth can be sustained by preserving the environment and conserving it requires participation of people. And people of Gujarat consciously take the responsibility of preserving the nature.

 
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