Kashmir Truth Be Told Blog
Yus neereth gassan, pheereth cha yevaano: morda che gassan zinde (Kashmiri saying)

7/22/08

Environmental Stewardship

Years of timber smuggling has robbed our forests of so many deodar trees that these forests look more as barren and open meadows now. The only thing that makes this statement wrong is the fact that meadows are usually percieved as being flat lands and not mountain slopes.

Unscrupulous people have been scouring our forests for these precious old growth trees and chopping them down with impunity -- sometimes with the knowledge of the concerned officials and paramilitary forces, who reportedly have a share in the loot.

These trees are atleast a few hundred years old and have a ready market within Kashmir and other parts of India. The smuggling is very lucrative with each cubic foot of deodar fetching not less than Rs 5000. Consider what a 200 ft long and 5 ft wide tree would be worth to these smugglers who simply have to chop it down and take it to the nearest band-saw owner.

It will takes decades for these forests to rejuvenate - and they will only grow back if the forest department actually takes an initiative to plant deodar saplings there. I was in disbelief when I learnt that the forest department doesnt actually reforest these areas with deodar but instead with poplar and willow trees.

I have confirmed this fact and was shocked to learn that even if the forest department decides to make an effort to repopulate a forest area with deodar trees, unscrupulous forest officials plant the cheaper poplar trees and pocket the difference that the deodar trees would have cost and yet on paper they show that deodar trees were planted.

What these corrupt and officials fail to understand is that every corrupt action has a cascading affect and ultimately affects each and every citizen of Kashmir. They may have pocketed a few hundred rupees for not planting an acre of forest with deodar trees, but I hope they realize at some time in their life that they have actually robbed their nation and simply passed on the misery to the future generations of Kashmir who will have to deal with this situation sooner or later.

I can only speculate what the future generations will think of this time when they have to deal with this problem which probably will have snowballed into a huge crisis in their time with erosion, landslides and floods wreaking havoc on their lives. They will certainly judge these officials very harshly for selling their souls for a few hundred rupees.

Taking care of our precious forests, and prime agricultural lands for our future generations is known as environmental setwardship. That means that we take care of these forests for our future generations. If our ancestors presented us these forests and agricultural lands in pristine condition, then it is only fair that we pass them on to the future generations in the same or better condition that they were handed down to us. Failing to do so will invite the label of being the most selfish and self-serving generation that Kashmir has ever produced.

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