Address by Governor at the Presentation of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vanashree Awards organised by the Department of Forests at Mantralaya, Mumbai
Address by Shri Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra at the Presentation of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vanashree Awards organised by the Department of Forests at Mantralaya, Mumbai at 4.30 pm on Tuesday 21st March 2017
Shri Devendra Fadnavis, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri Sudhir Mungantiwar, Hon’ble Minister of Forests, Finance and Planning, Hon’ble Minister for Housing Prakash Mehta, Shri Raje Ambarishrao Atram, Minister of State for Tribal Development and Forests, Shri Sumit Mullick, Chief Secretary, Shri Vikas Kharge, Secretary Forests, Shri Sarjan Bhagat, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Shri A R Chadda, PCCF, Shri Shree Bhagwan, PCCF, officers and staff of forest department, officers and staff of all other departments, ladies and gentlemen,
At the outset, I extend my greetings and good wishes to all of you on the occasion of International Forest Day.
This is a day of great significance not only for the staff and officers of Forest Department, but for all of us, the people of the State, of the country and for people of the world. This is because the very existence and survival of human beings is closely interlinked with the survival and well-being of forests and our ecosystem.
I am very happy that Government of Maharashtra has instituted the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vanashree Awards and organized the awards function on this day.
I congratulate all the individuals, educational institutions, NGOs, Gram Panchayats and others who were presented the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vanashree Puraskaars for 2015. I also congratulate the employees, field staff and officers of the Forest Department who were decorated with medals for their dedicated services towards protection and conservation of forests.
Shri Sudhir Mungantiwar, the Hon’ble Minister of Forests deserves our wholehearted compliments for turning forest conservation into a mass movement. With his personal involvement and leadership, he has highlighted the importance of forestry and tree plantation.
It was a moment of pride for the entire State when the Department of Forests created a new record by planting 2.82 crore saplings on a single day on 1st July 2016. The Hon’ble Chief Minister and I were part of the tree plantation drive.
I wish to congratulate the Hon’ble Minister of Forests and his department for setting a target of 50 crore tree plantation during the next three years. I am sure, the Forest Department will lead from the front in achieving this goal.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Forests cover 31% of global land area. More than 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods, medicine, fuel and food. Forests are key to the planet’s supply of freshwater, which is essential for life. Forest provide protection against soil erosion, droughts, floods, noise, radiations, etc. Forests also play a crucial role in regulation of global climate and temperature.
Unfortunately, despite these ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate. According to a report, 13 million hectares of forests are destroyed every year.
Historically India had 65% forest cover. It shrunk to 40% by the middle of the century. The figure has come down to 19% today. India’s forests are a precious legacy of its people that was passed on from generation to generations in good health. It is our duty to protect and enrich our forests for our posterity.
Ancient Indian scriptures and literature mention forest management, and I do feel that we must revisit our ancient texts to learn how we could preserve our forests for centuries and ages. This will help us draw lessons for the future.
The State of Maharashtra has varied and rich biodiversity. In the recent past, the State has witnessed consecutive droughts. We are also witnessing unseasonal rains in some parts of the State. All these are alarming signals. Forests can act as our insurance against the vagaries of nature.
Dear officers and colleagues,
Peoples’ participation is critical in protecting and managing the forests. Traditionally India’s tribal communities have played the most important role in conserving our forests. The Hon’ble Prime Minister recently acknowledged the contribution of tribal communities in conserving forests and urged the people to respect the right of tribals over their land.
I was pleased to note that many of our officers and field staff have done excellent work in the joint forest management programme, motivating the villagers to participate in protection and management of forests.
Conferring individual and Community forest rights to those, who rightfully deserve them, is an important programme of the Government and needs to be given a fresh impetus.
Maharashtra has witnessed several instances of Man – Animal conflicts especially in the recent past. Even closer to Mumbai, these incidents are happening occasionally. These cases should be tackled with urgency and with utmost sensitivity towards the mute animals.
There is a need to increase the capability of the field staff in handling cases of man animal conflict. They should be provided the latest equipment for the safe rescue of the animals. Safety and security of the field staff must be accorded topmost priority.
I am pleased to note that technology is being increasingly harnessed in forest management. Use of technology in mapping the forests and in monitoring animal movement is also appreciated.
I often say that gone are the days of Communism, Socialism or any other isms. The only Ism the world is interested today, is Tourism. Today more than ever, people are venturing out for tourism.
There is great interest among tourists about wildlife and forest tourism.
While encouraging tourism, we have to make sure that the life and livelihood of wildlife is not disturbed. We must promote responsible tourism while welcoming our tourists. Efforts should be made to make local population stakeholders in promoting tourism. Tourism will bring income and empowerment to our local communities.
Last but not the least, I do feel that we must involve school children in the forest conservation effort. They are the future of the country.
Let us on this day resolve to preserve and protect our forests and create a better world for our future generations.
I once again congratulate the recipients of the Medals and the Vanashree puraskaar and wish you all success in your future endeavours.
Jai Hind ! Jai Maharashtra