Madurai green cover remains below 15 per cent; Activists urge actions to increase green cover
Madurai is referred to as 'Kadambavanam' for its large Kadamba tree forest that used to flourish across the district.
MADURAI: In view of the World Environment Day celebrated on June 5, TN Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan inaugurated the tree plantation works in Madurai organised by the city corporation under the Green Madurai initiative.
While the ideal amount of the total geographical area under the forest category should be at least 33% according to the National Forest Policy of India, the district has no more than 15% green cover in Madurai. Environmental activists urge the department concerned to take action towards increasing the green cover and reducing deforestation.
"Madurai is referred to as 'Kadambavanam' for its large Kadamba tree forest that used to flourish across the district. However, the name has lost its relevance outside literature as the district's growth led to deforestation. While the average national green cover stays above 20%, Madurai district's green cover is reportedly still under 15%," sources added.
Though sources added that the stats have witnessed a large increase (2% - 3 %) compared to the previous years, the number remains minimal numbers. The National Forest Policy of India points out that the ideal amount of forest cover should be at least 33% to maintain ecological stability.
A senior official from the forest department told TNIE that as per the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021, the district has about 54,322 hectares of green cover, which makes up 14.91% of green cover. "The reserve forest area is about 26,589.305 hectares. A series of actions have been taken over the years towards increasing the green cover of Madurai district. For instance, during 2022-2023, the forest department, through the Special Area Development Programme (SADP) and Green Tamil Nadu Mission (GTM) schemes, planted around 1,11,832 tree saplings across Madurai," the official added.
"Though actions are being taken towards planting saplings, there is a slight dip in the survival rates of these saplings. However, the forest department is keenly taking measures towards planting more trees in the district to increase the green cover. During 2023-2024, the department will be planting nearly 4.5 lakh tree saplings (3.57 lakh saplings through the GTM scheme alone). Awareness programs are also being held to encourage people to plant more trees," said Gurusamy, district forest officer.
Recently, the city corporation began an initiative Green Madurai, through which the corporation along with the forest department aims to plant 50,000 trees within the corporation limits. As part of the scheme on Friday, about 51 saplings were planted alongside the Vaigai banks. IT Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan inaugurated the initiative in the presence of the mayor, commissioner, and other officials.
Raja, an environmental activist and a member of Vaigai River Makkal Iyakkam in Madurai said that while Madurai city is developing with major infrastructure on one side, the green cover is declining drastically on the other side. "I remember a large number of trees alongside the Vaigai river banks and Natham road, but all of them were chopped off for the sake of developmental works. Authorities must take action towards increasing the green cover of the city. Apart from simply planting saplings, they must take care of it properly," he said.
Another environmental enthusiast from Madurai noted that Idayapatti is one of the major Kadamba forests in the district. "Even forest minister Mathiventhan referred to the place as a bio-diverse area with loads of species of animals and trees during the special walkathon on the bio-diversity day earlier in May. This area has been chosen for the construction of Madurai central prison, which will greatly affect the diverse area and the forest. The TN government should take action towards opting for a different area for prison construction, and preserve Idayapatti forest," requested Abhishek.
Total Green Cover in Madurai district - 55,322 ha (14.91% of total forest cover)
Madurai Division RF Area: 26,589.305 ha
Source: India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021
2022-23 Planting plan
Programme No. of saplings
2023-24 Planting Plan
Programme No. of saplings
NABARD 1,00,000 (distributed to public)
NABARD 6,000 (RF Planting)
Source: Forest department