Committee to regulate felling of trees on public land
Panel likely to also provide policy support for the replacement of exotic trees on govt land with native tree species in a phased manner
CHENNAI: To increase green cover and protect native species, the State government has constituted a 10-member State Green Committee (SGC) to regulate felling trees and planting saplings on public land and offices. A Government Order (G.O.) to this effect was issued on July 2.The head of the committee will be the Environment Secretary and the member secretary will be the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Head of the Department).At district level, Green Committees (GCs) were constituted, with respective collectors as chair.
Environment Secretary Supriya Sahu told Express that the objective is to create a one-stop mechanism to increase the green cover and plant native species, thus bringing about an ecological balance. “The move will also address the problem of indiscriminate illegal felling of trees in public places. The district Green Committee will map all standing trees on public land and prepare a comprehensive list that will be updated periodically. The district committee will also be responsible for granting permission for felling of trees on public land after due verification,” Sahu said.
The G.O. also talks about the State committee providing policy support for the replacement of exotic (of foreign origin) trees on government land with native tree species in a phased manner. “We can not remove all the exotic trees in a jiffy. We discussed the matter with the chief secretary and decided to make a coordinated effort to plant only those native species that are beneficial to ecosystems. The district committees will be responsible for mobilisation of Self-Help Groups (SHGs), farmers organisations, youth organisations and civil society groups for establishing nurseries of native tree species to ensure that enough seedlings/saplings are available,” Sahu explained.
The SGC will meet at least once in three months. It also proposes to work out incentives for organisations and individuals to encourage tree planting. Shobha Menon, Founder Trustee, Nizhal, a Chennai based NGO that works towards connecting local communities for tree conservation in urban areas, welcomed the decision of forming Green Committees. “It is a landmark step for the protection of mature trees across public places in Tamil Nadu,” she said.