Pune Forest Department’s Tree Plantation Drops Sharply, Recovery Planned

Pune Forest Department's Tree Plantation Drops Sharply, Recovery Planned

Pune Forest Department's Tree Plantation Drops Sharply, Recovery Planned

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Dnyanada Sagare

Pune, 17 June 2024: The Pune Forest Department experienced a significant reduction in tree plantation this year, planting only 88,600 trees across 79 hectares, compared to 8.2 lakh trees across 706 hectares in the previous season. This marks just 10% of their annual average.

The decrease in plantation area from 706 hectares to 79.75 hectares from June to August is attributed to high costs, worker reluctance, and limited land availability. The department had planned to plant a variety of native species, shrubs, herbs, and bamboo, aiming for an average coverage of 700 hectares annually.

Mahadev Mohite, Deputy Conservator of Forests, explained to Pune Pulse that the fertile patches have already been planted, but workers are unwilling to work in difficult terrain areas due to low wages. Despite increasing the wage rate from ₹270 to ₹400-450, workers prefer urban jobs where they can earn more. To meet their targets, the department will begin recruiting workers under the MGNREGS scheme in September 2024, aiming to gradually achieve their goals. This year, the MGNREGS scheme faced challenges, but the department plans to cover 500 hectares in the next session.

Urban areas like Pune, Bhamburda, Paud, and Vadgaon present additional challenges due to rising labor costs and land availability issues. Many open fertile lands are covered with Gliricidia, leaving little space for new plantations. The department sought state funds in December 2023 to clear these trees and create more space for indigenous species.

The plantation activity, usually funded by several central government schemes, costs around ₹3 crore annually. Despite the challenges, the department aims to cover 500 hectares through MGNREGS in the next season, even though only 79 hectares of plantation is expected across 12 ranges for the 2024-25 season.