Shimla: Keeping in view the dramatic climatic changes in the state, the Himachal Pradesh forest department is planning to develop a model forest in each village. For this the department is studying the aforestation projects in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where village-level forests have been a success.
Currently, about 66.5% of the total geographic area in the state is covered by vegetation classified as forests. Though this figure seems impressive, the reality is that forest cover in the state has thinned out considerably over the years with human interference reaching out to almost all areas. According to sources in the department, water-retaining trees would be planted in an area covering about two hectares of land in each village. The responsibility of looking after these forests would also rest directly with the villagers.
The department had a budget of Rs 132 crore for 2006-2007, whereas a sum of Rs 72 crore was sanctioned through external sources for the same year.
Rs 65-cr DFID assisted Forest Sector Reform Project covering 85 panchayats to promote sustainable livelihood amongst poor forest dependents.
Rs 365-crore World Bank aided Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Project covering 602 panchayats.
Rs 160-cr Swan River Watershed Project aided by Japan Bank covering 60 panchayats.
World Bank aided Kandi project and Indo German Project.
Rs 33.60 crore Bio-diesel Project for aforestation of jathropha.