BENGALURU: While the pandemic and its related lockdowns have hit the urban economy at large, their effects have also been felt in the realm of conservation. Not just has raising saplings in many nurseries taken a hit, but also schemes and projects announced in the budget, including grassland protection and survey of Great Indian Bustards and Lesser Floricans, have been impacted.
Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa had allocated Rs 50 lakh towards the survey and conservation of Lesser Floricans. Though the survey has started, it is moving at a snail’s pace.“The species has been sighted mostly outside the forest boundary in Bidar. Now talks are on with the Revenue Department to see if it can be declared as a conservation reserve or acquired, if is litigation-free. If it is private land, then how it can be conserved,” Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Wildlife, Vijay Kumar Gogi told The New Indian Express, adding that the exercise has slowed down because of the pandemic.
The Forest Department has partnered with researchers from Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) for the study. But due to the pandemic, volunteers are kept at bay. Though conservation and forest protection is listed under essential category, involvement of other departments has become difficult, another official said, adding, “Due to budget constraints, everything has taken a back seat in forest restoration work. Otherwise, the lockdown was the ideal period for survey, plantation, encroachment clearance and protection.” Additional Chief Secretary, Environment and Ecology Department, Sandeep Dave, said that work on grassland protection in the Shola forests has started. So has the work on clearing lantanna in these regions, but it has been slow.
Online events for enthusiasts
World Environment Day is observed every year on June 5, with the aim to create awareness about environment protection. The theme this year is Ecosystem Restoration. Due to the pandemic, the annual walk and events organised by the Department of Environment, Forests and Ecology are being postponed to July, or when the lockdown is lifted, officials said. However, different wings of the Karnataka Forest Department, like Nagarahole, Bandipur, Kali and BRT Tiger Reserves, are organising online events for wildlife enthusiasts.