Karnataka Forest Department neglecting its duty towards tribals of Western Ghats
27 July 2008
Sirsi: Non-timber forest produce (NTFP) earlier called Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is the source of income for many families, particularly the tribal people, in the villages of Western Ghat districts.
But thanks to the negligence of the Karnataka Forest Department (KFD), NTFP has been losing its importance. KFD has lacked interest in rejuvenation, caring of these plants and produce, creating awareness among the tribal, their training or motivation, monitoring the extraction of NTFP and the like programmes.
According to sources in the Department Canara Forest Circle, just with five forest divisions, there is a potentiality of getting an annual income of Rs two to three crore from about 30-35 NTFP species. In Canara Circle, about 3000 families depend on NFFP. They get around 33 percent of the total value of the NTFP in a year, according to a survey done by the Department a couple of years ago.
The NTFP in Canara Circle include Uppage (Gracinia gummigatta), Murugulu (Garcinia indica), Cane, (Clalmus thwaitesi), Dalchinni leaves (Cinnamoum), Sheegekai (Acasia coninna), harda (Analekai), Halmaddi (Ailanthus triphysa), Honey and wax, beedi leaves, Surige (Mammea suriga), Rampatre (Myristica malabarica), Shame Bidiru (Oxytethera stocki), Laavancha (Vativenia zizaniodes), resin and the like.
Environmentalist and spokesperson of Life Trust in Sirsi Narasimha Hegde felt that the KFD should take it seriously. It must empower the village forest committees (VFC) to enlighten the NTFP collector families about various issues including value addition of the products, protection of species and so on. He opined that even the Stree Shakti groups might also be involved in the process. When his attention was drawn to the problems in NTFP collection the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Sirsi Division, Vijaymohanraj told this paper that the DFD was ready to associate the awareness among the villagers and in protecting the concerned species.